Steve Perez was denied his second win of the month by the smallest of margins when he just missed out on victory on the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally, which comprised round two of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship.
Driving his ex-Marcus Gronholm Ford Focus RS WRC 07, Perez held the overnight lead by over half a minute after the two Friday night stages in Wauchope Forest and was continuing his charge in the fast and dusty stages of Kielder Forest to lead after SS4 by 28 seconds over defending ANCRO Champions Marcus Dodd and Andrew Bargery (Hyundai Accent WRC).
But it was on the event's fifth stage that saw Perez lose the lead when he overshot a junction and dropped over half a minute, which saw Dodd claim the lead.
Thereafter, a titanic battle between the two former National Champions ensued over the final couple of tests but at the Jedburgh finish, Perez just missed out on repeating his Malcolm Wilson Rally win a fortnight ago, by a mere 5.7 seconds after nearly an hour of competition.
"My experience of night driving on the Roger Albert Clark Rally paid dividends and we had a good lead overnight but we lost time to Marcus on stage three before we took some back on stage four,” he said. “I wish the whole rally was in the dark!
"On SS5, the tyres seemed to go off and after a square right, we just went off with an overshoot and lost about thirty seconds which ultimately cost us the rally.
"We had a problem with the handbrake in the last two stages, it was loose, but I'm pleased to have beaten Paul Bird so he owes me some champagne now! I'm glad to be back up there but I'm a bit disappointed to lose the rally by such a small margin."
Perez's next outing is next weekend when he tackles the opening round of the British Historic Rally Championship in the venerable Lancia Stratos on the Bulldog Rally in mid-Wales.