Marcus Dodd notched up his 7th career Rallye Sunseeker victory on Saturday after fending off a competitive field around the waterlogged forests surrounding Bournemouth UK.

Local man Dodd who once again was at the wheel of his HPM Motorsport Hyundai Accent WRC finished the day 33 seconds clear of of Andy Burton in his bespoke Peugeot 306 Cosworth at the event which is the first round of this years UK MSA Gravel Rally Championship... [read more]

The event itself which has benefited from from the fantastic support of local luxury boat manufacturer Sunseeker in recent years has a long history and notably its roots can be traced back to 1973 when the event was called The Southern Rally. Conditions around the Dorset and Hampshire forests were particularly challenging this year even to the most experienced of competitors due to the sheer amount of standing water encountered on some of the stages.

Breaking the tradition of previous years the opening Friday evening spectator stage around the beachside gardens in Bournemouth town centre was replaced by a ceremonial start on the waterfront of nearby Poole Quay, complete with Sunseeker Super Yacht moored beside the start gantry. Hundreds of rally fans and locals alike took advantage of the various stalls and quayside bars while the leading rally crews were interviewed on the dockside.

With no stage mileage now on Friday night crews headed into the first forest tests bright and early on Saturday morning as heavy showers hit the area and it was Steve Perez who took the first stage win at the short 2.4 mile stage at Uddens. The Vodka Kick Focus WRC's time at the top of the leaderboard was short lived however, as after the two longer stages surrounding Ringwood, Dodd and co-driver Andrew Bargery moved into a lead which they were never to relinquish. Indeed it was the HPM motorsport crew that took 8 wins from the days 10 stages.

Steve Perez held second place throughout the rally until a spin on the final stage at Ringwood South cost him the place as a charging Andy Burton moved through to second overall in the glorious rear engined Cosworth Peugeot 306.

Perez recovered from his spin to take up the final place on the podium as the crews celebrated at the finish in Bournemouth Town Centre.

A very happy Marcus Dodd explained that even though he knows most of the Sunseeker stages like the back of his hand that co-driver Bargery deserved the praise commenting "Andrew was magnificent today, considering the conditions we faced. He called everything spot on, and even when the mid morning stages passed within yards of my own front door,he was calling me to take the correct lines, a great job as usual"

Rallye Sunseeker Overall Result:

1, Marcus Dodd/Andrew Bargery - Hyundai Accent WRC - 55:02.1
2, Andrew Burton/Robin Kellard - Peugeot Cosworth - 55:35.8
3, Steve Perez/Paul Spooner - Ford Focus WRC07 - 55:48.8
4, Roger Duckworth/Mark Broomfield - Subaru Impreza WRC - 56:17.5
5, Paul Bird/Kirsty Riddick - Ford Focus WRC08 - 56:46.3
6, Jonny Milner/Ian Windress - Toyota Corolla WRC - 57:51.6
7, Anthony Willmington/Andrew White - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 - 58:21.3
8, Dave Weston Jnr/Ieuan Thomas - Subaru Impreza - 59:09.0
9, Jonathan Greer/Brian Crawford - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 - 59:40.4
10, Stephen Petch/John Richardson - Hyundai Accent WRC - 1:00.23.5

Photo/Editorial: Neil Tozer

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