Automotive Art Shakedown Stages Results

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Automotive Art Shakedown Stages Results

Reigning Champion Paul Bourne opened his 2008 account with victory in Sunday's Automotive Art Shakedown Stages, the first round of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) Rally Championship. With regular co-driver Stuart Maloney alongside in his Subaru Impreza WRC S9, he was fastest on all but one of the 11 stages, claiming victory by a comfortable margin of more than one minute.

Two non-starters left the entry at 37 crews, many of whom have good reason to be thankful for the chance to check out their cars in advance of next month's Rally Barbados; electronic and mechanical gremlins were rife, so workshops will be busy in the coming weeks.

Roger Skeete, with new co-driver Robert Simmons in his Ford Escort WRC, was fastest on the first 4.2-kilometre test of the day from Society to Pool, after Bourne was delayed by a spectator on the stage; thereafter, Skeete could not quite match Bourne's pace, but was consistently second fastest. His rally came to an abrupt halt, however, when the Escort stalled on the start-line of the third run through the 3.1-kilometre Wilson Hill to Malvern stage and refused to restart.

Having been beaten only by Bourne and Skeete up to that point, the flying Suzuki Swift of Sean Gill and Michael Cummins assumed second place, second fastest to Bourne on all but one of the day's remaining stages, Gill and Cummins collecting the trophies as highest-placed two-wheel-drive crew. Roger Hill and Graham Gittens (Toyota Celica GT4) finished third, despite a down-on power engine, while Geoff Noel and Kriegg Yearwood (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) recovered from a rather slow start to finish fourth.

The awards for highest-placed crew including a lady went to fifth-placed Nicholas Gill and Sue Rogers, whose Mazda 3 had rarely dropped out of the top six all day, displaying welcome reliability; they also won SuperModified 11, after early leaders Jonathan Still/Heath Hazell (BMW M3) slipped behind in the closing stages, finishing seventh overall. Ian Warren and Matthew Staffner (Peugeot 206) were sixth overall and Modified 6 winners, beating a determined challenge from Edward Corbin and Rodney Clarke (Daihatsu Charmant), who finished ninth overall.

Josh Read and Mark Jordan gave event sponsor Automotive Art a Group win in SM9 Toyota Starlet, finishing eighth overall, while the top 10 was completed by Greg Cozier and Antonio da Silva (Ford Escort RS2000), with their start numbers 13 turned upside down for luck.

Another whose reliability issues are hopefully now a thing of the past is Cliff Roett, whose Toyota Starlet was on song all day; he was regularly in the top 10 stages times, even clocking second fastest to Bourne on the final Malvern of the day. Jason Clermont was a frequent top 10 visitor, too, making good use of the ex-Jonathan Still BMW M3.

It was a day of strife for many other competitors, however. Among them were Neil Armstrong, whose Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI kept cutting out at speed, Adrian Linton (Vauxhall Astra GSi), who lost an almost certain overall top 10 result to a variety of starter motor, battery and alternator problems, although he did hold on to victory in Modified 7, and Allan Maynard, who retired after rolling his Toyota Starlet late morning.

Spectators turned out in their thousands, a large crowd at the popular Malvern corner showing their appreciation in particular for the driving of Andrew Jones (Ford Escort), Danny Williams (Ford Fiesta) and Ryan Wood (Toyota Starlet) . . . also for Trevor Manning, acting as Zero Car in his rear-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer, whose relatively sedate start was replaced in the afternoon by the more familiar drifting style.

After a final figure-of-eight run round Bushy Park, awards were presented at a Prizegiving in the pits by Automotive Art's Leslie St John, who joined BRC Chairman Mark Hamilton in thanking the organising team and volunteer marshals for a smoothly-run event; a few minutes lost in the early part of the day had been made up by mid-morning, after which the event ran right on schedule.

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