Donnelly wins Rally Sunseeker 2012

The new-format MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) got off to a stunning start on Rallye Sunseeker International, when an intense day-long battle between Jarkko Nikara/Petri Nikara in their CitroŽn DS3 R3T and Mark Donnelley/Dai Roberts in their Renault Clio R3 finally went the Northern-Irish driver?s way.

With the two crews never separated by more than four seconds throughout the 12-stage Rallye Sunseeker International - round one of the 2012 BRC their neck-and-neck duel was finally decided when the Finnish crew retired on the penultimate stage after their car's engine lost power.

Nikara's exit, coupled with the accolade of setting the fastest time on the final stage, meant that Desi Henry/Niall Burns in their DS3 shot from fifth to second in the final loop of three stages, crossing the line just 0.2 seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards in their Ford Fiesta R2. Their podium position established the Welshman as the first Class 6 car after they too were locked in a battle that saw no more than a hand-full of seconds spitting the top four cars in class for a large proportion of the event.

The 2012 Rallye Sunseeker heralded the start of a change for the BRC, the event marking the first time that only two-wheel-drive cars are eligible to score points since the nineties. And, if there was any question that this new formula might not be exciting, then all doubts were dispelled when one of the closest BRC rounds ever took place this weekend.

In keeping with the Poole and Bournemouth-based event's tradition of being the best promoted rally in the UK, the ceremonial start on Poole Quay on Friday evening witnessed thousands of spectators watching the cars and crews ahead of the following day's action. The competitive element of the rally on Saturday featured twelve stages in the Ringwood and Wareham Forests, with four loops of three stages punctuated by service halts at Canford Arena, located five-miles north of Bournemouth.

Well done to all crews from The International Rally Drivers Club

1 Mark Donnelly 20
2 Desi Henry 18
3 Elfyn Evans 16
4 Osian Pryce 15
5 Peter Taylor 14
6 Jussi Kumpumški 13
7 Tom Cave 12
8 Matthew Cathcart 11
9 Ruary MacLeod 10
10 Gethin Jones 9

1 Renault UK 34
2 Citroen UK 33
3 Ford Motor Co. 29

1 M-Sport Ford 20
2 Ford Finnish Junior Team 18
3 AVS Motorsport 16
4 Pirelli TEG Sport 15
5 Millers Oils 586 Team 0

27th February, 2012