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Defending champions Marcus Dodd and Andrew Bargery claimed the honours for a second time as they won this weekend’s Brick & Steel Border Counties National Rally.

After non-scoring in the opening round on Rallye Sunseeker, the pair, in their Hyundai Accent WRC, took maximum points in the second round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship as they finished a narrow five seconds ahead of the Ford Focus WRC of former champion Steve Perez and co-driver Paul Spooner on the Jedburgh-based event.

“I’m pleased with the win. The rally’s been good and the stages were the smoothest I’ve seen them in a while. I’ve enjoyed it,” Dodd said.

Perez and Spooner had carved out a 28 second lead by stage four but an overshoot in the fifth test cost them around 30 seconds and Dodd/Bargery took advantage and never looked back, despite a ten second penalty for a cone infringement on stage five.

Dodd and Bargery had a couple of other issues also when they lost time after they left the road in stage four and had a problem with a water pump on the run out to the last two tests.

Another pair of former champions, Paul Bird and co-driver Ian Windress, finished third in their Ford Focus WRC despite a puncture on the final stage after Bird gained in confidence following on from their accident two weeks ago on the Cumbria-based Malcolm Wilson Rally.

Irish crew Dan Barry and Martin Brady took victory in the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge and the Production Cup as they finished fourth overall. The pair had a few problems throughout the event, including a puncture in stage four and a clutch problem in stage five.

They beat Welshman Simon Hughes and co-driver Craig Parry in their Evo whilst Scottish duo Willie Bonniwell and Neil Ewing were sixth in their Subaru Impreza. Alan Cookson and Julian Wilkinson took seventh in their Subaru Impreza WRC followed by Irishmen Owen Murphy and co-driver Dai Roberts in their Evo.

Murphy and Roberts had an eventful time with an overshoot in stage two losing them 20 seconds and they also lost third gear. They also had to contend with a misfire on stage five but Roberts took the junior co-driver award.

Alan Carmichael and Ivor Lamont claimed ninth in their Evo after a relatively trouble-free run. They did, however, struggle with overheated brakes through the fifth test. Nik Elsmore and Craig Drew rounded-up the top ten but they lost time on stage four when they got stuck behind Charlie Payne and Craig Thorley before a puncture lost them four minutes in stage five.

The only ANCRO crew not to make it home was Payne and Thorley. They rolled on the fourth stage in their Mitsubishi Evo WRC and, despite not appearing to have sustained more damage than cracked windows; a vibration in the following stage brought a premature end to their event.

The 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship will return with the Carlisle-based Pirelli Tour of Cumbria Rally on Saturday 17th April.

For full details, including spectator information, go to www.bordercountiesrally.co.uk and for championship positions, visit www.gravelrally.co.uk

Results
1 Marcus Dodd/Andrew Bargery (Hyundai Accent WRC) 57:33.7
2 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC 07) 57:39.4
3 Paul Bird/Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC 07) 57:58.2
4 Daniel Barry/Martin Brady (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 59:09.9
5 Simon Hughes/Craig Parry (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 59:56.4
6 Willie Bonniwell/Neil Ewing (Subaru Impreza) 1:00:16.0
7 Alan Cookson/Julian Wilkinson (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:02:16.2
8 Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:03:22.4
9 Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 1:05:08.4
10 Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew (Mitsubishi Evo 9) 1:05:53.0

Provisional Championship Positions (after round 2)
1 Daniel Barry 41
2 Simon Hughes 38
3 Alan Cookson 33
4 Nik Elsmore 32
5 Owen Murphy 31
6 Alan Carmichael 29
7 Marcus Dodd 26
8 Sean Devine 25
9 Steve Perez 23
10 Paul Bird 21

2009 Events
Round 1 – 27/28th February – Rallye Sunseeker, Bournemouth
Round 2 – 21st March – Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, Jedburgh
Round 3 – 18th April – Pirelli Tour of Cumbria, Carlisle
Round 4 – 8/9th May – RBS International Manx Rally, Douglas
Round 5 – 30th May – Severn Valley Rally, Builth Wells
Round 6 – 18th July – Swansea Bay Rally, Swansea
Round 7 – 5th September – Woodpecker Rally, Ludlow
Round 8 – 26th September – Trackrod Rally, Pickering

Picture: Marcus Dodd and Andrew Bargery on their way to victory on today’s Border Counties Rally, courtesy of www.cmwi.net.

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