Pirelli TEG Sport's Mark Higgins and Bryan Thomas have taken an historic victory on the 46th Rally Isle of Man, the fourth round of the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship.
Higgins' win makes him not only the most successful driver in the event's history, the only person to have won the event five times, but it puts him and Keith Cronin level on points at the head of the BRC points standings.
“It has been the most difficult and hard fought event I can remember,” said Higgins at the Douglas TT Grandstand finish. “It was great to win here last year and add Rory [Kennedy's] name to the trophy, but this is fantastic, especially as Bryan now has four wins, equal to Derek Ringer.”
Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors were second after one of the tensest events in the rally's history, eventually finishing nearly a minute and a half adrift after a late puncture took the pressure off Higgins.
Alastair Fisher and last year's winning co-driver Rory Kennedy were third, the young Irishman not succumbing to pressure from Adam Gould, who crashed out in his Pirelli Star Driver prize car on stage 17 of 20.
It was Fisher who took the nomination for the 2009 Pirelli award shootout after his excellent first BRC podium place.
Despite Gould's accident, Higgins' result is enough to extend Pirelli TEG Sport's lead in the MSA British Teams' Rally Championship. They now lead by 31 points over Team JRM Lico with Revolution Wheels a further 19 points adrift.
Meanwhile heading the Rally 3 class was Tom Walster with new co-driver Craig Parry, their fantastic sounding Clio R3 keeping the crowds entertained on their way to eighth place in the BRC classified finishers.
Taking Rally 2 and the C2R2 Cup were Martin McCormack and Phil Clarke in their immaculate Citroën C2, also winning the two wheel drive category, top placed Junior driver and a cheque for Euros 4,000. The prize fund, which is awarded for the Citroën Racing Trophy, comprises Euros 2,000 for the Citroën win, doubled up for being quickest front wheel drive.
In Rally 1 it was the Suzukis which dominated, Luke Pinder and Peter Scott taking the Swift Sport Cup by force too. They held a two minute gap to David Harrison until the final stage, where they took it very easy, still managing to finish over a minute clear and with it a cheque for £500.
The Diesel Cup went to Steve and Tony Graham in their “Boom Box” Astra. They had fitted a speaker under the bonnet of the ultra-quiet car in an attempt to warn spectators of their arrival, playing a range of classical and house music on the stages.
The 2009 MSA British Rally Championship now continues at the end of next month, with the Toddsleap.com Ulster International Rally, which runs from August 21-22.