Round Three - Pirelli Tour of Cumbria, Saturday 18th April
With just ten seconds separating the leading three drivers on the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria, defending ANCRO Champion Marcus Dodd and co driver Andrew Bargery (Hyundai Accent WRC) narrowly edged out local aces Paul Bird and Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC) as well as another ex-champion Steve Perez with his co driver Paul Spooner.
Dodd suffered throughout the event with a gearbox problem and the erstwhile leader Bird lost nearly a minute when he overshot a chicane on the opening loop. Try as he might, despite setting fastest time on all stages bar one, Bird couldn't quite reel Dodd in and at the end fell just 4.6 seconds short of victory.
Perez for his part, toiled hard in the unseasonably warm and dusty conditions for his third place in his Ford Focus WRC and gained more important points, but had to concede defeat on this occasion to his title rivals in the dauntingly fast tracks of Kielder Forest.
The next round of the championship sees the Manx Telecom Rally take place on the Isle of Man on 8th/9th May and will see all the leading crews battle it out on the only tarmac event of the season.
1, Marcus Dodd/Andrew Bargery - Hyundai Accent WRC - 0:49:45.22, Paul Bird/Ian Windress - Ford Focus WRC07 - 0:49:49.83, Steve Perez/Paul Spooner - Ford Focus WRC07 - 0:49:55.54, Simon Hughes/Craig Parry - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 - 0:51:07.85, Daniel Barry/Martin Brady - Mitsubishi Lancer - 0:51:44.76, Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew - Mitsubishi Evo9 - 0:52:06.47, Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 0:53:32.78, Steve Bannister/Louise Sutherland - Ford Escort II - 0:56:00.79, Jeff McNeil/Fred Roberts - Subaru Impreza - 0:56:25.710, Harry Dodd/Richard Skinner - Hyundai Accent WRC - 0:56:41.5