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Jamaicans Gregg and Hutchinson prevail

Jamaica's Gary Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson became the first overseas competitors in eight years to carry away the crown jewel of Barbados motor sport at the weekend (June 3/4) when they won Rally Barbados 2006 by a margin of a little under five seconds.

In a dominant display of driving in the BD Gregg Bros/McEnearney Quality Inc Ford Focus WRC, reigning Jamaican champion Gregg was fastest on 13 of the 19 stages which counted toward the result. The trophy last left the island in 1998, when Gregg's fellow-countrymen Jeffrey Panton and John de Mercado won in a Toyota Celica GT4.

Winners in 2003 Paul Bourne and Louis Venezia (Warrens Motors Subaru/Plus Impreza WRC) finished second, with the much-improved Simpson Motors/Shell Helix/Automotive Art/VISA/Garbage Master Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII of 1999 winner Trevor Manning and co-driver James Betts coming home third.

With a penalty hanging over Gregg and Hutchinson, Bourne and Venezia were initially declared the winners when provisional results were published on Sunday evening after the DMS Distributors.com SuperSprint at the Vaucluse Raceway; a protest dealt with by the event Stewards during Monday, however, resulted in the local crew dropping to second place and Manning/Betts to third.

An official statement was issued by the Stewards and posted at The Boatyard prior to the Prizegiving on Monday afternoon. It read: "The Special Stages listed as numbers three and six have been cancelled from the Rally Barbados 2006 in accordance with ASR item 6, numbers 1 to 4.

"On investigating a competitor's protest on Special Stage 3, the Stewards have determined, from interviews with the Stage Flying Finish (SFF) marshal, Car Zero, the Stage Commander and the Clerk of the Course, as well as a physical visit to the stage, that the SFF was in fact not placed in accordance with the official markings (and as such with the official route) of the stage.

"No notification of this change in the official route was communicated to any competitor, either in writing or verbally. Based on the ASR-laid out rules on Amendments, Interpretation of Regulations and Bulletins, the official procedure for notification of changes was not carried out and, as such, these stages cannot be considered in the tallying of the total elapsed time for Rally Barbados 2006."

Gregg had been on the pace from The Start at Simpson Motors, fastest over the first two stages, and a hard-fought event was in prospect, attracting thousands of spectators enjoying very favourable weather conditions. Although the entry was lacking in quantity compared with last year - 70 cars left the start, as against 80 in 2005 - there was no shortage of quality competition. Gregg claimed five fastest stage times on Saturday, Bourne two and Manning three, and there were others knocking on the door: England's Kevin Procter, co-driven in the Procters Coaches/PC Vehicle Rentals/Motoscope Subaru Impreza by experienced local co-driver Stewart Gill, was rarely out of the top four before his retirement with a third blown turbocharger of the week, while 2004 UK National Champion Steve Perez was regularly setting top three times by the Saturday lunch halt in the VK Vodka Kick Ford Focus WRC, co-driven by Neil Dashfield.

By the close of play on Saturday, although all was provisional thanks to the issues surrounding stages three and six, Bourne led Gregg by nearly 10 seconds, with Manning, Perez and Harold Morley/Geoff Goddard (Warrens Motors/Sunbeach Communications Subaru Impreza WRC S9) completing the top five.

There had been impressive performances early on Saturday from some of the two-wheel-drive runners, especially 10-time winner Roger Skeete, co-driven in the Havoline/Michelin/FB Batteries Peugeot 306 Maxi by Stuart Maloney, Sean Gill/Michael Cummins in the new Simpson Motors/Shell Helix/Automotive Art/VISA Suzuki Swift and Nick Gill/Tony Pile in the McEnearney Quality Inc Mazda 3. All clocked stage times to embarrass four-wheel-drive cars, but would succumb to mechanical problems before the day was out.

On consistency, however, the two-wheel-drive challenge was led by Jonathan Still and Heath Hazell in the Hitachi Power Tools/Philips Lighting/Warrens Motors/Crane & Equipment/VP Racing BMW M3; Still lay sixth overnight, just ahead of Modified 8 leaders Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Mobil 1/Nassco Ltd/Motormac/PPG Toyota Celica GT4) and Group N leaders Steve Ollivierre and son Dominic in the ECMIL/Empire Cigarettes Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII.

The overnight top 10 was completed by the leaders of Modified 6 and 7, Ian Warren/Matthew Staffner (Subzero/Details Car Valet Inc/McEnearney Quality Collision Repair Centre/Aqua Pur Peugeot 206GTi) and Adrian Linton/Jonathan Linton (M7 Ravensden/Crane & Equipment/Garbage Gobbler/West Coast Garden Centre/Edwin Clarke Furniture Vauxhall Astra GSi).

While Sunday produced some stunning drives to entertain the massive crowds, there was little change in terms of overall position. Gregg was fastest on nine of the 10 stages run - Manning took the 10th - the Jamaican continuing his dominant form. The battle between Bourne and Manning continued to rage, each taking time off the other in various stages with Manning closing from eight to just over two seconds, but the only change in the top 10 was the demise of Morley, who suspects a mechanical failure resulted in his very solid contact with a power pole.

Still's fifth place guaranteed him repeating last year's SuperModified 13 win, while Hill claimed a fourth consecutive Modified 8 win in a car which had been undriveable just days before after a roll in the Red Bull International RallySprint. Ollivierre won Production 4, with Ian Warren and Adrian Linton claiming Group wins in Modified 6 and 7 respectively.

By the end of the day, the newcomers to the top 10 were Barry Gale and Ryan Rodriguez in the Dentyne Ice/Simpson Motors/Nishikoi Fish Foods Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI; after curing the Saturday fuel pressure problems, which had left him 16th overnight, Gale was a man on a mission on Sunday, finishing fifth on both the day's routes, to climb to 10th by the finish.

Rally Barbados 2006 was rounds three and four of the Texaco BRC Rally Championship; it was organised by the Barbados Rally Club in association with Armstrong Agencies, Automotive Art Shell, Da Costa Mannings Autocentre, Digicel, DMS Distributors.com, McEnearney Quality Inc, Red Bull, Simpson Motors and Texaco West Indies. The event was supported by The Boatyard, J E Security Systems & Services, Nassco, Office Solutions & Systems, SBI Distribution and Stoute's Car Rental.

For further information:
e-mail - robin@bradfax.com
web sites - www.rallybarbados.bb; www.barbadosrallycarnival.com

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