Making a welcome return to the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship for his local event, Charlie Payne and co-driver Craig Thorley just managed to scrape victory on the final round of the series in this weekend's Trackrod Rally.
It was Alan Cookson and Julian Wilkinson in their Friesian-liveried Subaru WRC who topped the leaderboard after the first stage, stopping the clocks exactly sixteen seconds ahead of the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC of Payne and Thorley. A spin in stage two saw Cookson and Wilkinson drop fifteen seconds when they had trouble with gear selection allowing Payne to claim a stage victory.
Payne managed to clinch the next two stage victories closely followed by the hard charging Subaru of Cookson and as they entered the final stage of the day Cookson had the slimmest of leads, just eight tenths of a second.
Payne pulled out all the stops on the final stage of the day, the very fast Langdale stage, stopping the clocks eight seconds ahead of Cookson which was enough for them to claim overall victory. However the points Cookson and Wilkinson claimed for second overall were enough to move them ahead of Paul Bird to take sixth overall in the Championship.
The only other championship contender out on the final round of the season was Nathan O'Connor co-driven by Jessica Rogan in their Citroen C2R2. The pair looked to be heading for a class victory before a driveshaft failure on the penultimate stage of the day forced them into retirement.
Already Marcus Dodd and co driver Andrew Bargery had clinched the title in their Hyundai Accent WRC with Steve Perez and Paul Spooner, who were competing on the event in their historic-specification Lancia Stratos in readiness for the upcoming Roger Albert Clark Rally, claiming runner-up spot in their Ford Focus WRC.
Mitsubishi Rallliart Evolution Challenge winners Daniel Barry and Martin Brady finished third in the ANCRO-organised series with Nik Elsmore and Craig Drew ending up joint fourth with Simon Hughes and Craig Parry in their respective Mitsubishis.