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Six World Rally Cars promise a 50th Anniversary to celebrate

Six ex-works World Rally Cars - the largest number ever assembled for one event in the Caribbean - head the provisional entry list for Rally Barbados, which will bring together National Rally Champions from Britain, Jamaica and Trinidad to go head-to-head with the island's best . . . a fitting celebration of the organising Barbados Rally Club's (BRC) 50th Anniversary.

Last year's winners, multiple Jamaican champions Gary Gregg and Hugh Hutchinson, return to defend their title in the ex-Carlos Sainz 2001-spec Ford Focus WRC; they will face combinations they have beaten before, including fellow-countrymen former Trinidad Champions John Powell/Michael March (ex-Didier Auriol Toyota Corolla), and 2004 UK National Champion Steve Perez (Ford Focus WRC), who will the have experienced Welsh co-driver Howard Davies alongside him this year on his third visit to the event.

New to the mix, in terms of equipment, will be England's Kevin Procter, who is contesting the BRC's blue riband event for the fifth time . . . in a fifth different car. Among the UK's strongest challengers, he arrives with the most successful ex-works Hyundai Accent WRC of all; no Accent ever made it on to the podium of a WRC event but, in the hands of Alister McRae, younger brother of former World Champion Colin, this car (index number X15 HMC) finished fourth in the 2001 Network Q RAC Rally, Britain's round of the World Rally Championship, and enjoyed regular top 10 finishes over the 2001-02 seasons, also driven by Freddy Loix and Armin Schwarz. Procter has already won an event in the car in the UK.

A combination of that and Procter's experience of the event suggests he may be the strongest European challenger yet to take the trophy 4,000 miles to the east. Very fast in 2003 in his mechanically-challenged Ford Sapphire Cosworth (which is back this year with Dave Bellerby behind the wheel), Procter finished fifth and highest-placed overseas driver in 2004in a Ford Escort Cosworth (also back this year, with Fred Davidson driving), and ninth in his Ford Puma Evo 4 x 4 in 2005. Turbocharger problems thwarted his challenge last year in a Subaru Impreza . . . but he will need to be watched carefully in 2007.

In terms of WRC machinery, home honour will be defended by Paul Bourne, whose ex-prodrive Subaru Impreza WRC was the first car built to the then-new WRC regulations in 1996 to win an event, and 10-times winner of the BRC's premier event, Roger Skeete, although details of his ex-factory Ford Escort WRC are yet to be revealed.

Entry statistics countdown:
+ there are currently 80 entries
+ there are 30 competitors from Europe
+ the entry includes 22 four-wheel-drive cars
+ with 19, Toyota is the best-represented manufacturer
+ with 18, Ford is just one behind
+ there are 16 competitors from the region
+ there are 14 manufacturers represented
+ drivers from 11 nationalities will participate
+ there are 10 female co-drivers

Rally chairman Barry Gale noted: "With the revision of our regulations for the three years from 2007, and the split of Modified 8 into two groups, to deal with the World Rally Cars, I am delighted that we have 10 cars in the WRC class . . . a brilliant entry for Barbados. And it's even better that six of those are original factory cars. We're really moving motor sport on in the island, and it couldn't have happened at a better time than during the Barbados Rally Club's 50th Anniversary year."

Rally Barbados 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.

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

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