Barbados' Prime Minister enjoys a "roller coaster ride" at Turners Hall

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Barbados' Prime Minister enjoys a "roller coaster ride" at Turners Hall



Prime Minister enjoys "roller-coaster ride"


After an exhilarating day of intense competition, Paul Bourne was crowned Shell V-Power King of the Hill on Saturday (May 24), beating former Junior World Rally Championship contender Kris Meeke by less than one-quarter of a second, as the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) returned to a venue popular since the 1960s.


Thousands of fans occupied every vantage point at Turner's Hall in St Andrew, but the hot spot was at the bottom of the hill. There, spectators not only saw competitors tackle the first two corners, but also enjoyed live coverage of almost the entire two-kilometre course, broadcast on the Giant Daylight Screen, thanks to sponsorship from Banks, McEnearney Quality, Simpson Motors and Sol and slick camerawork from Merville Lynch Productions.


After the practice run, Sean Gill gave Prime Minister David Thompson a taste of the action, with a run up the hill in the co-driver's seat of his Suzuki Swift. When he returned to the VIP enclosure, where he remained to watch the first official run, the Prime Minister likened the experience to "a roller-coaster ride at Disney World."


The PM is either anxiously excited or terrified at the prospect of a ride up Turners Hall with Sean Gill.

I wonder what Sean Gill is laughing about - he is probably nervous - I would be.

Let the roller coaster ride begin.

The MInister of Sport also gets a trip up Turners Hall with Sean Gill - popular fella!.

With his Banks/Texaco/B-Mobile/Pirelli/New-Tech Subaru Impreza WRC S9 in its new livery - it is now predominantly black - Bourne was quickest on the practice run, establishing a marker of 1m 16.76s. Driving the Digicel/Nassco/Pirelli/Red Bull/Consolidated Finance/Armag/Crane & Equipments Toyota Corolla WRC in competition for the first time, Meeke trailed him by just three-tenths, with Roger Skeete (Michelin/FB Batteries Ford Escort WRC) also within fractions of a second - hot competition would clearly be the order of the day.


Others looking strong early on included Gill, who recorded the second fastest time in the first official run (1m 16.99s, compared with Meeke's 1m 15.37s), while a broken driveshaft left Bourne with some work to do. Third on that run was Jamaica's Gary Gregg (BD Gregg & Bros Ltd/NG Racing/Monster Energy/McEnearney Quality Inc Ford Focus WRC) on 1m 17.44s, ahead of Skeete (1m 18.18s) and Roger Hill, who looked in determined form as he hustled the Mobil 1/Nassco/MotorMac Toyota Celica GT4 up the hill in 1m 19.09s.


Bourne fought back in the second official run with a time of 1m 13.02s, which would prove his best of the day. Meeke found another second (1m 14.15s), Skeete improved by more than two (1m 15.99s), while England's Kevin Procter (Procter's Coaches Subaru Impreza WRC S7) carved nearly five off his time, to better Skeete with 1m 15.74s.


Although Meeke improved again on his final run (1m 13.25s), Bourne's existing time was enough for victory - just - while Procter, Skeete and Gregg's second-run times placed them third through fifth; Gill finished sixth, a master of consistency (1m 16.99s, 1m 16.86, 1m 16.51s), while Hill's final run (1m 18.86s) was good enough for seventh.


Sixty drivers saw action, although not all contested every run, incuding Steve Perez who was airlifted by helicopter from Grantley Adams International Airport directly after his flight from the UK landed; Perez clocked 1m 19.14s in the VK Energy Drink Ford Focus WRC on his last run to place eighth, with Geoff Noel (Globe Finance/Ezone/DeWalt/Automotive Art/Sunbeach Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Trinidad's Ainsley Lochan  (Josefs Sports Bars/NP Ultra/Stag/Oakley/Raycool/Fast Parts Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) completing the top 10.


The closest Group competition came in SuperModified 11, which bodes well for Sol Rally Barbados next weekend - having been quickest in practice (1m 23.08), Nick Gill (Mazda 3) dropped to fourth on the first run, behind the BMWs of early leader Sammy Cumberbatch (1m 21.65s), England's Martin Stockdale (1m 22.31s) and Jonathan Still (1m 23.01s). Gill fought back on run two (1m 20.43s) and, although Cumberbatch improved as well (1m 20.76s), Gill's time gave him the win by three-tenths, all four covered by less than two seconds.


Former World Rally Champion Bjorn Waldegard won the historic class, the engine note of the Simpson Motors-supported Porsche 911 delighting the crowd, as he set times just outside the top 20 throughout the day. Another notable performance came from S9 Group winner, Jamaica's Tarik Minott, whose first-run time of 1m 21.04s in the ex-Sean Gill Suzuki Ignis JWRC was good enough for eighth overall, although he was to lose that top 10 spot by the end of the day.


Sol Rally Barbados and Shell V-Power King of the Hill are elements of the eighth Barbados Rally Carnival. Each day of Sol Rally Barbados, organised by the Barbados Rally Club, is a separate qualifying round of the BRC Rally Championship. The title sponsor is Sol and associate sponsors and marketing partners are McEnearney Quality, Simpson Motors, Automotive Art, Banks Holdings, DaCosta Mannings Auto Centre, Digicel, Nassco, Consolidated Finance, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Crane & Equipments, Little Switzerland, Armag, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association and the Barbados Tourism Authority.


Remaining key events


Monday to Friday, May 26 to May 30 - 4.00 to 6.00pm each day

Meet the Drivers at Shell Warrens (Mon-Weds) and Shell Banyans (Thurs-Fri)

Saturday, May 31 - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 - day 1

Start from Simpson Motors, Warrens, St Michael, at 9.30am

Twelve stages at three venues

Sunday, June 1 - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 - day 2

Restart from Bushy Park, St Philip, at 7.30am

Twelve stages at three venues

Shell V-Power SuperSpecial at Bushy Park

Monday, June 2 - approx 3.30pm - Sol Rally Barbados 2008 Prizegiving

The Boatyard, Bay Street, St Michael


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