2007 TITLE TRIUMPH FOR MARCUS DODD!”
Sunday 2nd September:
Poole driver Marcus Dodd is celebrating after being crowned the 2007 MSA National Gravel Rally Champion after a controlled drive on today’s Killarney Forest Stages Rally. On a rare foray into Ireland for the premier British forest rallying series, Marcus had a trouble free run to second place overall taking yet another maximum points haul in the process. The result means that Dodd cannot be beaten with one round to go.
Supported by Flitewise.com, Pirelli Tyres and Sunoco Fuels, Marcus and co-driver Andrew Bargery arrived in Ireland confident they could take the fight to title rival Steve Perez in his Ford Focus WRC. The HPM Motorsport team had done a fine job of preparing the Hyundai Accent WRC ready for the new demands of Irish forestry. The stages are rougher than their equivalent roads on the mainland but the team were well prepared for the challenge posed by the forests near to the base town of Killarney – better known for its tarmac roads than gravel.
Eight special stages would greet the crews on Sunday 2nd September and Marcus had a clear mission. Beat Perez, and in doing so, win the title. Seeded behind his rival on the event, Marcus watched Perez head into the first stage and knew he would have to push hard to do lift the crown. Not long into the stage Dodd could smell burning rubber – but crucially it wasn’t coming from the Hyundai. Perez had picked up a puncture and Dodd took 50 seconds out of his rival on the first stage alone.
Marcus and Andrew could breathe a sigh of relief but the job was far from over. Dodd steadily picked his way through the stages to find himself just four seconds behind rally leader Stephen Moore heading into the final stage. Did he risk pushing to take the win or should he settle for 2nd overall and winning the championship for the third time? Unsurprisingly, Dodd chose the latter option and took a steady run through the stage. The result was a well earned win for the non championship registered Moore, and the prize of the championship title for Marcus, Andrew and HPM Motorsport.
Dodd was understandably elated at the finishing ramp of the event:
“I’m delighted for the HPM team as they have put the hard work in this year to give me a reliable and fast car. We’ve steadily developed the Hyundai over the past few seasons and winning the title was always the aim for the whole team. Andrew has been fantastic and the combination of the Pirelli Tyres and the excellent Sunoco Fuels has worked really well with the Accent WRC. It would have been so easy to collect a puncture here today as Steve did but we were able to keep our noses clean and out of trouble. After the first stage the title was pretty much decided and we could control the pace as we wanted to. Winning the series with a round to go is a testament to our performances during the year and we’ve been rewarded for being the pace setters on many of the events this year.”
Joining Marcus in Ireland was his father, Harry Dodd. The National Championship stalwart was also looking forward to the challenges posed by a new event to the team. Together with his Manx co-driver Richard Skinner, Harry would finish the rally a fine 23rd overall and 4th in class in his identical Hyundai Accent WRC.
October will see the final round of the series take place in Oswestry. The Bulldog Rally uses the highly popular forest stages of Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Dyfnant and is a favourite with competitors and spectators alike. Marcus and Andrew will hope to end the season in fine style with another maximum points score and victory if they can.
Multiple British National Rally Champion Marcus Dodd took an excellent victory on this weekend’s Swansea Bay National Rally. The Poole driver was never headed as he led the rally from start to finish in his Flitewise.com, Pirelli Tyres, Sunoco Fuels and Sunseeker Powerboats backed Hyundai Accent WRC.
Terrible weather on the Friday prior to the event was to cause numerous problems for the organisers of the fifth round of the MSA National Gravel Rally Championship, but a relaxed Marcus was confident of success prior to the rally. Together with Manx co-driver Andrew Bargery, Dodd was the defending winner of the event from 2006 and was looking forward to a good battle with the likes of Steve Perez, Roger Duckworth and Andy Burton.
The HPM Motorsport team had a clear plan of attack for the event. Flat out from the start. True to his word, Dodd was at his attacking best on the opening test in Margam. Marcus was a clear 17 seconds faster than Perez and the rest were even further back. Marcus and Andrew were pushing hard and the times were coming good. Dodd was able to keep Perez at bay whilst Burton briefly challenged before mechanical problems dropped him down the order.
Perez had no answer to the Hyundai in the wet Welsh valleys and Marcus was pleased to be able to control the pace from the front. With the penultimate stage in Walters Arena cancelled due to the exceptionally inclement July weather, Marcus arrived at the final test in Margam a clear 26 seconds ahead of Perez and co-driver Claire Mole.
The HPM pair eased through the test setting second fastest time in the process. Perez won the stage, but was unable to take the victory as he finished the rally 21.4 seconds behind the dominant duo.
Marcus was delighted with a job well done in difficult conditions: “Firstly I’d like to thank everyone connected with the running of the event for making it happen. The conditions the day before the rally were atrocious and it is a great credit to everyone involved that the event ran at all. On a more personal level, I’d like to thank Andrew and the HPM team for their efforts as we pushed really hard on the opening stage and controlled the pace from there. The car felt fantastic and despite the challenging conditions we felt very comfortable all day long. The pressure is moving towards Steve Perez now in the championship as we are scoring very well and he needs to beat us on the remaining rounds. With a trip to Ireland coming up it should make life interesting for us all. It looks like being a very close battle to the end of the year and we’re well up for it!”
Unfortunately Marcus was the only HPM Motorsport driver to make it back to the finish at Swansea Docks. Harry Dodd had been up to 22nd overall after the fourth stage but a mechanical problem on the last stage of the rally would see him and co-driver Richard Skinner forced to retire. The series now moves to the Killarney Forest Rally in Ireland which is a rally that neither Marcus nor his championship rivals have contested before.
MSA National Gravel Rally Championship ace Marcus Dodd left Mid Wales a happy man on Saturday evening after scoring maximum points on the Severn Valley National Rally. Dodd overcame late brake problems to fend off the challenge of arch rival Steve Perez by just 8.3 seconds after a hot and dusty event near to the rally base of Builth Wells.
Prior to the event Dodd had warmed up for the challenge by winning the Red Dragon Rally. Boosted by that performance, the Flitewise.com, Sunseeker Powerboats, Pirelli Tyres and Sunoco Fuels backed driver from Poole in Dorset was confident he could claim the maximum points haul on stages that suit him and the HPM Motorsport run Hyundai Accent WRC4 well.
Together with Hove based Manxman Andrew Bargery, the pair were keen to make a good start on an event they last won in 2005. True to form, Marcus started well. The first stage in Crychan forest would see the non championship registered Andrew Burton set the overall pace in his unique Peugeot-Cosworth hybrid. Hot on his heels was Marcus with Steve Perez slotting into third spot.
The result of that first stage would set the tone for the remainder of the event with the three drivers in question never more than a couple of seconds apart on every stage. Heading into the final stage of the rally, Dodd and Burton were separated by just 0.8 of a second, with Perez 16 seconds further back in third. Rally leader Dodd was keen to go for the overall win, but brake problems manifested themselves early in the long final test in Crychan, forcing Dodd to back off to preserve his maximum points scoring position.
Although disappointed not to have won the event after a day long battle, Marcus was nevertheless delighted to have taken another maximum points score this year: “Andrew drove well and it was a very close finish at the end. We were more interested in Steve’s (Perez) progress through the day and I’m glad that we were able to keep ahead of him until the end. It is a shame that we had some brake problems right at the end of the day as the Pirelli tyres had been working extremely well in the dry and dusty conditions. The stages were in excellent shape and it really was a very challenging and competitive event. Steve is 17 points ahead of us in the championship now, so the most important thing for us to concentrate on from here on in is keeping ahead of him and scoring as many points as possible. It now looks like being a two horse race between us and I’m sure we are both equally as keen to win so I’m sure it will be a very good battle to the year end.”
The second car in the HPM Motorsport team for the weekend was that of Harry Dodd and Richard Skinner. Driving the identical Hyundai Accent WRC4, Dodd senior and his fellow Manx co-driver were 24th overall after the opening stage of the rally. Unfortunately that good work was to come to an end on the next test when they slipped off the road in the Cefn stage and were unable to rejoin the action.
A short mid season break awaits the crews ahead of the next round of the MSA National Gravel Rally Championship. Marcus and the team will travel to South Wales for the Swansea Bay Rally on July 21st. Marcus and Andrew will look to repeat their victory from last year where they successfully fended off the charge from Norwegian star Andreas Mikkelsen to win by just three seconds.
Image courtesy of Mick Pattison / British Rally Images.
Multiple British National Rally Champion Marcus Dodd produced a sparkling performance to take 3rd overall on this weekend’s RBS International Manx Rally. Overall winner of the event Kenny McKinstry was not registered for MSA National Gravel Rally Championship points, so Dodd took 2nd place points behind Roger Duckworth after a sterling comeback drive.
Marcus was piloting his familiar Flitewise.com, Sunseeker Powerboats, Pirelli Tyres and Sunoco Fuels backed Hyundai Accent WRC4. The HPM Motorsport run machine would have the tough task of facing 15 fast, bumpy and challenging special stages on the closed public roads of the Isle of Man. Secret weapon for the weekend was Manx born co-driver Andrew Bargery. With an intimate knowledge of the island roads, Marcus was keen to make the most of Andrew’s ‘home’ event and the pair were desperately keen to make up for a disappointing end to the recent Border Counties Rally which saw them retire whilst leading.
Wet and foggy conditions would be the order of the day for the Friday evening loop of stages. Marcus started well as he threaded the Hyundai World Rally Car through the narrow lanes near to Port Erin and Ballabeg. Marcus would find himself 6th overall after the first leg, just 35 seconds down from the leader. With 10 special stages in wait on the Saturday, the team were well placed to push forwards and mount a serious challenge.
Dry and bright conditions greeted the crews at the restart. Marcus was looking forward to getting started but on the very first stage of the day the Hyundai suffered a turbo problem. Marcus would drop outside of the Top 10, losing more than a minute in the process. The HPM team acted quickly and the problem was soon rectified. Marcus attacked as he set a string of impressive stage times on his least favoured surface to begin climbing up the leaderboard.
Dodd’s assault on the Top 10 was impressive. Stage by stage, he moved up the order until a podium finish looked a real possibility. Dodd and Bargery maintained the pressure right until the end setting first and second fastest times along the way. Their reward was a terrific 3rd overall and 2nd in points for the championship. Marcus was delighted with the result after a very tough weekend’s rallying:
“It really was a battle of attrition out there” said Marcus. “Friday were some of the worst Manx conditions I have seen over the years. The rain and fog was a real tester and it was a battle just to get through the night without any dramas. Having the turbo problem early on Saturday was a great way to get motivated for a fight back up the leaderboard. We pushed hard for the remainder of the day and to get 2nd in the points was a real bonus for us on what I regard as our weakest event in the series. The Pirelli tyres worked brilliantly in the very difficult conditions and our testing at the recent Welsh Rally on Epynt was very worthwhile indeed. Next up is the Severn Valley Rally which is one of my absolute favourites. I love the stages in Mid Wales and we will really be able to get into our stride there. The battle for the championship is well and truly on now so we’ll be pushing very hard for the win on the 2nd of June!”.
Image courtesy of Dave Legatti Photography
Multiple National Rally Champion Marcus Dodd was on fine form in the Scottish borderlands this weekend. The recent Rallye Sunseeker winner was setting a strong pace to lead the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally when an excursion put paid to any chance of making it win number two in this years MSA National Gravel Rally Championship.
Together with Hove’s Andrew Bargery, Marcus was determined to make it back to back wins on the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally based in Jedburgh. Dodd dodged the snow and ice of last year’s event to take a finely judged victory. Snow and ice made way for bright and cold conditions in 2007, and Marcus was immediately into the lead with a strong time on the opening stage.
Regular sparring partner Steve Perez was once again proving to be the thorn in Dodd’s side. It was nip and tuck between the pair over the opening loop of stages with Marcus and Steve swapping fastest stages. Just over a second separated the pair heading into the sixth stage of the rally. Unfortunately, it was destined to be the final stage for the HPM Motorsport run Hyundai. The car was to leave the road during the stage after running wide on a corner and Marcus and Andrew were unable to re-join. It was a disappointing end for what had been another strong performance prior to that point.
Dodd remained positive despite the obvious disappointment:
“Unfortunately Kielder Forest got the better of us this year” said the 2006 event winner. “We ran slightly wide on a corner and the car slipped into a ditch and rolled very gently onto its roof. There is hardly any damage and it was all the more disappointing as up until that point the car had been going very well and everything looked set for a good fight to the finish with Steve (Perez). We are allowed to drop two scores in the championship so that means we’ll need to put in some strong performances over the remainder of the year. The events in Wales really suit my driving style and the Manx is an event that we’ll need a good clean run on as well. Whilst I’m disappointed to have retired from this event, I take heart from the fact that once again we were more than a match for anyone and there’s no doubt that we have the pace to win again this year. There is a long way to go so we’ll bounce back at the Manx and then take it from there.”
Harry Dodd was also contesting the event. The father of Marcus was without regular co-driver Roy Campbell, having Manxman Richard Skinner alongside for this event. The pair kept out of trouble to finish 28th overall and 5th in class. Next up for the HPM Motorsport team are the super fast tarmac roads of the Isle of Man. The RBS International Manx Rally will be a tough test of both men and machines, and Marcus in particular will be looking to get more points on the board on May 11/12.
Image courtesy of Mick Pattison
Multiple MSA National Rally Champion Marcus Dodd is celebrating a place in the history books of motorsport this weekend. The Poole driver scored a record breaking fifth victory on Rallye Sunseeker, opening round of the MSA National Gravel Rally Championship on February 23/24. Supported by Flitewise.com, Sunoco Fuels, Pirelli and Sunseeker Powerboats, Marcus and Hove based co-driver Andrew Bargery were clear favourites for the win in their HPM Motorsport run Hyundai Accent WRC4. Dodd has won the event four times previously and is always regarded as the man to beat on the South coast.
Image courtesy of Mick Pattison
Starting with a traditional blast around the Winter Gardens on Friday night, it was Marcus who set fastest time on the opening stage to take a slender lead. Running on slick tyres, Marcus would struggle on the second run through the stage when the heavens opened and torrential rain lashed the sea front stage in Bournemouth where the rally was based. Marcus backed off, allowing rival Paul Bird to take a small overnight lead.
Saturday morning would see brighter conditions although the stages had lots of standing water in them. Marcus was keen to put his local knowledge to good use despite finding the first few stages very slippery. Marcus and Andrew were soon into their stride and were locked in a close fight with former champion Steve Perez. Perez suffered a series of spins in the long Mount Ararat stage and Marcus romped away from the field. With a lead of nearly a minute over the chasing pack everything was going to plan for the HPM team.
Dodd was in total control as the event neared its conclusion. One slight scare was losing the brakes before the last stage of the event. The drivers were delayed at the start of the final test and with the penultimate stage being a long one the Hyundai’s brakes were literally boiling. Great skill was required to drop so little time in the short stage, leaving Marcus and Andrew as very dominant winners of the event for a superb fifth time.
With a final winning margin of one minute and twenty three seconds, Marcus was delighted with a job well done on home soil:
“I’m very pleased for the whole team as the guys have worked very hard over the winter months rebuilding the car ahead of the new season. It’s no secret that I know the event pretty well and I’m really delighted to have taken a fifth victory here. Conditions were very tricky over the two days and driving on slicks in torrential rain on the Friday evening was certainly entertaining! The gravel stages didn’t rut up too badly despite the recent bad weather so overall it was a very good day for the team and it is an excellent start to the season for us”.
Marcus will now turn his attention to the demanding ‘killer’ Kielder forest stages of the Border Counties Rally in March. The 2006 event was covered in snow and ice, making it a lottery for the crews involved. Marcus and Andrew made the right tyre choices in conjunction with Pirelli and took a well judged win in very difficult conditions. A repeat of that performance in 2007 would see the HPM Motorsport team well placed to mount another serious championship challenge this year.