Kick Energy Rally driver Steve Perez saw his hopes of a decent points haul in the opening round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship disappear when he was forced to retire from Rallye Sunseeker today.

Driving the recently acquired ex Marcus Gronholm Ford Focus WRC 07, the Chesterfield businessman and welsh co-driver Paul Spooner were holding second place behind defending champion Marcus Dodd in the early stages when he retired on the morning’s third stage.

Halfway in the long Ringwood stage Perez slid wide at a hairpin and in an attempt to rectify the situation used a nearby earth bank to try to continue.

Normally the incident would have cost a few seconds at most but the softly constructed bank caused the car’s wheels to drop into a ditch and with no help on hand, he was left stranded.

“I’m obviously disappointed and I have a good record on Rallye Sunseeker and I really felt I could challenge for victory this year having never won the event. It was so innocuous but these things happen and I can only take consolation in the fact that my other two title rivals, Paul Bird and Marcus Dodd, also retired. I think it may be a fairly quiet night in Bournemouth tonight!” said Perez.

Perez aims to make amends next weekend when he tackles the Malcolm Wilson Rally based in the Lake District.



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