Marcus Dodd made rallying history last weekend as he won the Bulldog Rally and in doing so, became Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally champion for the fourth time.
Together with Manx co-driver Andrew Bargery, the HPM Motorsport crew had a dramatic run up to the rally. Piston failure in testing prior to the rally meant that Dodd had less than 24 hours to find a car in which to contest the Oswestry based event. Step forward fellow HPM Motorsport driver Peter Egerton, who owns an identical Hyundai Accent WRC4.
Egerton offered Marcus his car for the event and the car was despatched from the Poole workshops to Oswestry overnight. With suspension and brake settings adjusted to suit Dodd it was all set for action in the classic forests of North Wales.
In a style befitting a champion, the Poole driver hit the ground running by taking fastest time on the first three stages, building a comfortable lead over his nearest rival. The championship situation entering the final round meant that Dodd and Bargery had to take maximum points in order to be champions - only a win would do!
The Flitewise, Pirelli and Revolution Wheels backed Hyundai was in complete control at the head of the field. Dodd wasn't pushing too hard but was content to be doing 'enough' to keep ahead of the chasing pack.
Rival Steve Perez did his best to up the ante over the final three stages with some fast times but by then Marcus was already in cruise mode as he throttled back the Hyundai in slippery conditions.
Dodd was thus able to coast through the final stage in Dyfnant forest to take a 32 second victory from Perez, and in doing so, won the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship for a record breaking fourth time.
“I was beginning to think luck was against me this year! We had a huge lead on the penultimate round in Yorkshire only for the engine to fail in the last stage. To then have another engine problem in testing prior to the Bulldog Rally really did suggest that this wouldn't be our year,” he noted. “I can't begin to thank Peter Egerton enough for loaning me his car at the last minute. It was a very generous gesture and I'm pleased we were able to bring the car home in one piece for Peter. We really owe him one!
“I'd also like to thank Flitewise, Pirelli Tyres and Revolution Wheels for their support during the season, and of course Andrew for his efforts during the year. In particular I would like to say a huge thank you to all the guys at HPM Motorsport for their efforts in running the cars this year and their efforts and sleepless nights over the weekend of the Bulldog Rally. It was well worth it!
“I'm really delighted to be the first person to have won the championship four times and it's great to make it back to back wins as well. The competition gets tougher each year so I'm really pleased that we've been able to get the job done again!”