Mark Gamble, who claimed the inaugural Suzuki Swift Sport Cup championship crown at the Trackrod Rally in Yorkshire, capped off his season with a fourth win of the season as the 2008 campaign drew to a close with the Tempest Rally.
Gordon Nichol went fastest in the RC3 class on the first stage, but this was shortlived as Gamble took back the lead on stage two at Ash, finishing sixteen seconds ahead of the Scottish driver and twenty seconds ahead of Dane Niki Bjerg in second place.
Paul Denning, one of two celebrity entries, fell victim to the day's wet and treacherous conditions, becoming the first of three to retire in the class, the same fate suffered by drivers Ross Forde, and EVO
magazine journalist and rally novice, Henry Catchpole.
As Gamble's run of fortune continued, with drives that consistently topped the timesheets, he secured the win while it was all to play for further down the order with Bjerg and Nick Rowland fighting for the Junior Cup win and a place in the prestigious Pirelli Star Driver Award.
Rowland looked to have wrapped up the title, thanks to a stellar drive in the morning's stages, but a hydraulics failure let him down after lunch, which passed the position back to Bjerg who held on to take the Junior Cup and a nomination for the Pirelli award.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP rider, Loris Capirossi, competing in the second celebrity car in both his first ever rally at the level of the Swift Sport Cup, and on a gravel surface, put in a strong drive that brought him to within four seconds of the leader in only his fourth ever stage.
Despite losing time in the closing night stages, a consistent and solid performance throughout the day was enough for Capirossi to overtake Rowland to finish on the third step of the podium behind Bjerg.
“It has been an amazing day for me, and this was the first true rally that I have ever taken part in,” he said. “The car worked well, and I experienced a lot of different conditions, such as rallying in the wet and at night which I really enjoyed. I was running ten seconds behind second place, but I lost a lot of time in the last stage. It has been a fantastic experience, and I would like to thank Suzuki for giving me the opportunity to compete in the Swift Sport Cup.”
However, it was Gamble at the head of the podium who was able to celebrate a successful end to his title winning season.
“It has been a fantastic year and a faultless story from the Pirelli rally through to the Tempest,” he said. “During the season, we achieved four wins and one third place, one of the best Suzuki performances of the year. I can't thank Suzuki enough, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The Tempest Rally has marked a brilliant end to a brilliant year.”