STOCKDALE AIMS FOR TROPHY NUMBER SEVEN

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STOCKDALE AIMS FOR TROPHY NUMBER SEVEN

And the format for scrutineering has changed

Britain's Martin Stockdale, whose stirring performances in his BMW M3 GTR have endeared him to local rally fans in recent years, arrives in the island at the end of this week hoping maintain his unique record in the Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) premier event, Rally Barbados (May 26/27) . . . although he will have to replace his car's clutch first!

Contacted in England on Sunday, Stockdale - Mad-dale to his Bajan following - said: "We had a problem develop with the clutch on the trusty BMW while we were loading the cars at Portsmouth. A new unit will be fitted upon arrival so, hopefully, we have already had our problems and can put them behind us."

Stockdale and his party are arriving in time to attend the Barbados Rally Club's 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Sherbourne Conference Centre next Saturday (May 12); he added: "We are really looking forward to meeting everyone again, and to another superb Rally Carnival. Being there in time to join in the Barbados Rally Club's celebrations makes it all the better."

The English businessman is the only driver to have competed in the Barbados Rally Carnival every year since its inception in 2001 . . . and has also been one of the most successful. He noted: "We've carried a trophy home with us every year, and I'm hoping that we can do the same again."

From 2001 to 2003, he campaigned a BMW M3 co-driven by Anders Howard; on his first visit, he finished second to Nathan Naime (Peugeot 306) in the Modified Open Group in the Texaco Havoline International Stages Rally, then won the Group in 2002, when he also finished seventh overall and highest-placed overseas crew. A Group B class win followed in 2003 in the re-named Rally Barbados, by which time the M3's engine had grown from 2.5 to 3 litres.

With that car sold, Stockdale and his friend and mechanic Julian, of whom he says "without his help, I wouldn't have the car ready", built what is thought to be the only BMW M3 GTR rallying anywhere in the world; the original 4-litre engine was replaced two years ago by a 4.9-litre V8, developing around 400 horsepower.

With new co-driver Mark Swallow, Stockdale won the DMS Distributors.com Sunday Cup in 2004, after a variety of engine problems and oil leaks had caused them to miss much of Saturday's action, then bounced back with a second Group B win in 2005. Last year, they finished third in the new SuperModified 13 class.

The rumbling 'Beemer' has always been a popular attraction at the International RallySprint, too, although Stockdale has not enjoyed a Group win at the St Thomas facility since 2002; in recent years, he has tended to finish second in the Group to close friend and rival, Jonathan Still, whose own M3 has gone through similar muscle-building programmes to Stockdale's over the years.

With the Cumberbatch family's pair of BMWs also showing excellent form in the recent Carnival Warm-Up Tarmac Rally - father St Elmo finished sixth in his E36 and son Sammy ninth in the newer M3 - there will be much to savour during Rally Barbados for fans of the Bavarian marque.

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New format for scrutineering

For 2007, scrutineering of local and overseas entries has been combined into one major event, which will be staged on Friday, May 18, in the Southern Car Parks of the Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, sponsored by Banks & McEnearney Quality. The scrutineering teams will start their work at mid-day and, in addition to the competition cars on site, there will be displays by a number of Rally Barbados sponsors. During the afternoon and early evening, there will be driver interviews and an official welcome extended to the overseas crews; food and beverages will also be on sale throughout the day.

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The Barbados Rally Carnival comprises two events: the Red Bull International RallySprint (May 19) is the third and final round of the Vaucluse Raceway RallySprint Cup and a round of the BRC Driver's Championship. It is organised by the Vaucluse Raceway Motor Sport Club and sponsored by Red Bull.

Rally Barbados (May 26/27) is organised by the Barbados Rally Club; each day is a separate qualifying round of the Texaco BRC Rally Championship and the BRC Driver's Championship. Principal sponsors are Automotive Art, Banks Holdings Ltd, Dacosta Mannings Auto Centre, Digicel, McEnearney Quality, Simpson Motors, Texaco and Williams Industries. Associate sponsors are Armag, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Crane & Equipment, Essco, Harris Paints, Nassco and SOL.

Since its creation, the Barbados Rally Carnival has attracted nearly 160 overseas competitors, followed by more than 4,000 supporters over the years; while the majority of those visitors have come from the British Isles, the list of nations represented also includes Austria, Finland, Holland, New Zealand and Turkey, joining the regional competition, particularly from Jamaica, St Vincent and Trinidad & Tobago. Each year, Rally Carnival injects around Bds $2 million into the island's economy, much of it in valuable foreign exchange.

Key dates for Barbados Rally Carnival 2007
Friday, May 18 - scrutineering for all competitors
- Sir Garfield Sobers Gymnasium, Wildey
Saturday, May 19 - Red Bull International RallySprint
- Vaucluse Raceway, St Thomas
Thursday, May 24 - Rally Barbados 2007 shakedown
Saturday, May 26 - Rally Barbados 2007, day 1
Sunday, May 27 - Rally Barbados 2007, day 2
Monday, May 28 - Rally Barbados 2007 prize-giving
- The Boatyard

For further information, robin@bradfax.com - web site: rallybarbados.bb

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