David Bogie nursed his car to fifth on the Bulldog Rally last weekend, the final round of the 2008 UK Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge and, in doing so, took the title on the tie-break and the prize works drive on the Wales Rally GB.

Going into the event, which started and finished in Oswestry, five drivers' were in with a mathematical chance of taking the crown, and in addition to Bogie, Nik Elsmore, Neil McCance, Daniel Barry and Keith Cronin all had an opportunity to come out top.

Knowing that he would have to win and for others to falter if he was to succeed, Cronin was on a mission right from the start and went through the first stage a staggering 28 seconds quicker than his closest rival McCance. His pace was such that he also held second place overall.

However, the other potential champions were in hot pursuit, with Elsmore just 0.1 second further down and Barry a slender 1.2 seconds behind him.

But where was Bogie? A rock-hard brake pedal and almost no brakes meant he lost nearly a minute to the leader and most significantly he had dropped to seventh place. However, things went better on the next stage and he passed Tom Naughton and Evo Challenge returnee Jonny Greer to grasp the all-important fifth place.

As cars entered the first service halt in Dolgellau, the time sheets showed Cronin still out in front with Elsmore now 15 seconds behind in second. Barry was third, McCance fourth and then Bogie, who was now able to get his brakes checked by his team.

With a comfortable lead, Cronin set off on SS3 intent on not taking any risks, but even at his slightly reduced pace he was caught out on a deceptive bend two-thirds through the stage, when the car slid straight on, dropped into a ditch and slowly rolled onto its roof. Although only superficial damage was sustained, his Mitsubishi was stuck-fast and his excellent run had come to an end.

Also retiring in the same stage was Tom Naughton who admitted he was struggling to understand the pace notes, his American co-driver's accent proving to strong on occasions. He too left the road and was unable to continue.

At the second service halt after stage three it was now Elsmore who held the lead by ten seconds from McCance and then Barry, who was just a further two seconds behind. Next came Greer who had passed Bogie, but with Cronin out it didn't matter, the young Scot admitting he had now backed off to ensure he made it to the finish in fifth place, as he was unlikely to be caught by Johnathan Sparks in sixth who was now nursing his overheating car to the finish.

But the drama wasn't over and, as he exited stage four, Bogie became aware that his car's head gasket had started to leak, causing him to drive with one eye on the temperature gauge for the remainder of the event.

Positions at the front of the Evo Challenge field stayed the same for SS4 and SS5, but on the sixth and final stage, a final push by Barry saw him edge ahead of McCance to take second place behind Elsmore, who was a little disappointed not to become champion, but very pleased with his day's work.

"I did all I could to take the title by winning today, but it depended on David (Bogie) finishing sixth or lower", said Elsmore, who ends the year equal on points with Bogie, but second in the standings, by virtue of the fact he didn't do so well on the opening round.

"I'm not too disappointed though, as the event has gone really well and the car ran perfectly. It's been an excellent season and great to be battling for the title right up to the end, so I'm looking forward to coming back for more next season."

Crossing the line in fifth place, a delighted and relieved Bogie said: "That was close! At one point I thought I wasn't going to make it, so as soon as I got into fifth place I just took it steady. It was really difficult to know what speed to drive and I would like to have been up there with the rest battling for position today, but I came here to do a job and I'm delighted to win the Evo Challenge title."

Bogie will now go on to receive his award, which has recently been announced as a works drive in this year's Wales Rally GB.

Mitsubishi is also currently looking at 'other options', details of which will be confirmed in the next few weeks.

The Bulldog Rally meanwhile also saw the conclusion of the co-drivers championship, the title going to Martin Brady, who partnered Richard Cathcart earlier in the season before joining Daniel Barry for the final two rounds. The outcome also sees Barry take the PIAA Junior Award for under 25-year old drivers and Elsmore win the Performance Friction Brakes Cup.



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