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Rally Barbados pivotal for Texaco Championship

While the attention of many Barbados Rally Carnival fans will be focused on the overseas entries during Rally Barbados, which runs off over the May 26/27 weekend, there is an important hometown fight going on, too, as Barbados Rally Club (BRC) members drive for points in the 2007 Texaco BRC Rally Championship.

Each day of Rally Barbados counts as a separate round of the Championship, so a consistent performance over the weekend is vital for Championship success. With two rounds run, and only one further remaining in October, Rally Barbados will play a pivotal role in deciding the 2007 Champion.

This is the third year of the Texaco BRC Rally Championship, won in 2005 by Roger Mayers (Ford Focus WRC) and last year by Paul 'Surfer' Bourne (Subaru Impreza WRC). With co-driver Stuart Maloney, reigning Champion Bourne has won both of this year's earlier rounds and gained a healthy 12-point lead in the Championship . . . but, with a possible 30 points to be won over RB'07 weekend, there is still a long way to go, especially as it will be the first time this year that all the potential Championship winners go head-to-head.

Bourne has been chased home this year by two of the region's best: in the opening round in March, it was Trevor Manning (Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors/Garbage Master Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) who was closest, but an unplanned excursion into the scenery, during which Manning made contact with a fence post and damaged the exhaust system, caused a loss of power.

'Electric Micey' didn't even make it to round two in April, after a turbo boost problem in the previous weekend's second round of the Vaucluse Raceway RallySprint Cup left insufficient time to have the car prepared. It has been a frustrating time for Manning, as the car is working - when it's working! - better than ever before: "It was disappointing, because I really enjoy driving it."

In the Texaco Championship's second round, Bourne's main protagonist was Jamaica's John Powell in the Intercontinental Shipping/Trinidad Mooring and Launch Services/Toyota Trinidad Toyota Corolla WRC, who had not made it to the island for round one; in light of an injury to his hand suffered some weeks previous, his performance in April was remarkable, especially claiming fastest time in the Bushy Park SuperSpecial. He said this week: "I was in a lot of pain at the end of that event, because I tore three stitches in my finger. Anyhow, I am glad to report everything is almost back to normal now."

While Manning and Powell are now ready for action, they are not Bourne's only challengers, thanks to the return of Roger 'The Sheriff' Skeete to four-wheel-drive, with his ex-works Ford Escort WRC. During the BRC's 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Sherbourne Conference Centre on Saturday, Bourne said: "Just look at the entry - there are 10 cars in the WRC class, and there must be at least six guys on this rally who are capable of setting fastest stage times; it could be the best yet."

Fortunately for Bourne, not all of those six are registered for the Texaco Championship, but the overseas visitors, such as last year's winner, Jamaica's Gary Gregg (Ford Focus WRC), and Britain's Steve Perez (Ford Focus WRC) and Kevin Procter (Hyundai Accent WRC) will rack up the pressure on those Bajans aiming for Championship points. It will not be an easy weekend.

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

Texaco BRC Rally Championship
Positions after round 2

1st Paul Bourne (Subaru Impreza WRC), 30 points
2nd Jonathan Still (Hitachi Power Tools/Philips Lighting/Crane & Equipment BMW M3), 18pts
3rd Mark Hamilton (Consolidated Finance/McEnearney Quality Inc Ford Escort MkII), 14pts
4th equal Trevor Manning (Shell V-Power/Simpson Motors/Garbage Master Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) and John Powell (Intercontinental Shipping/Trinidad Mooring and Launch Services/Toyota Trinidad Toyota Corolla WRC), 12pts
6th Kirk Watkins (Abacus Builders Inc/Hankook Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V), 10pts

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