The answers to any remaining questions will be revealed come Saturday evening when the 2008 MSA Pirelli Gravel Rally Championship reaches its conclusion with this weekend's Bulldog Rally which gets underway in Oswestry.

And the battle for the overall driver's and co-driver's titles will go right down to the wire, especially given the extraordinary circumstances in which the leading to contenders have found themselves in.

Altrincham property developer, Jon Ingram and co-driver Ian Allsop, was the model of consistency in the opening five rounds, finishing all of them in his Subaru WRC, including a win and three second places. However, following his wife suffering a serious accident just prior to the Trackrod rally last month, he withdrew and given he is still caring for her, he will not compete on this weekend's event either.

Ingram's absence means that triple ANCRO champion Marcus Dodd, and co-driver Andrew Bargery, will be hoping to secure a record-breaking fourth crown to add to the ones he won in 2000, 2001 and 2007.

But following a dramatic final stage on the Trackrod, when the Hyundai Accent WRC ground to a halt on the final stage in Yorkshire when leading, it means nothing short of a win will do for the Poole businessman.

The dropped scores permutations means that if Dodd scores maximum ANCRO points on the Wolverhampton & South Staffs car club event, he will pip Ingram by a single point, but if he finishes second behind another ANCRO crew, he will lose it by two points meaning Ingram would be crowned champion in his absence.

Despite winning the event twice in the past, the last time being in 2001, Dodd's task is going to be no easy one, especially with the level of entry that has been attracted. Former champion Steve Perez will be a major threat in the classic mid-Welsh forests in his 2005-specification Ford Focus WRC, as will another ex-champion, Roger Duckworth, in his Subaru and late entries Charlie Payne and Julian Reynolds.

Other contenders for overall honours include the likes of Dave Weston in his Ford Focus WRC and Mark Higgins in MG Super 2000 Sport, but with them not being registered for the ANCRO Championship, it means Dodd doesn't have to win outright, he just needs to finish top ANCRO-points scorer.

There is similar drama set to unfold in the battle to become the 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge champion, which is also set to be decided on the Bulldog Rally.

Currently sharing the championship lead are David Bogie and Nik Elsmore, both drivers tying on 44 points. With three Evo Challenge wins under his belt this season, Bogie is best placed to lift the crown and can do so by finishing fifth or higher.

However, it's never that easy and drivers often say that competing at a less than flat-out pace can lead to lapses in concentration, so the pressure is on for the young Scot.

With competitors having to drop a score from one of the championship's seven rounds it means that Elsmore, who has finished all the events so far, starts the Bulldog Rally in the knowledge that he will have to drop at least six points. Therefore, he has to cross the line ahead of the rest and is relying on Bogie, who has already dropped a score, not to finish.

As well as hosting the two major championships, the various classes within the series will also be decided. Mirroring the Evo Challenge, either Elsmore or Bogie will be crowned Production Cup winner with Stephen Petch set to do battle with Bogie for the Junior Driver title. Nathan Crewe and John Connor have already boxed off the Two Wheel Drive Challenge although Harry Dodd and Rod Bennett have still got to claim zimmer-frame rights in the Prima Motorsports 'Old Stagers' class.

Bennett and Andrew Coley are tied on points in Class A6, whereas Kit and Tim Leigh have secured Class B12 and co driver Kevin Rae heads the Production Cup and N4 categories in his respective classes.

The event also is the penultimate round of the ANCRO Rally Challenge.



Loading Comments...