Duckworth Romps To Victory In Sunseeker National

Event regular Roger Duckworth strolled to victory in the 2011 Rallye Sunseeker National Rally, though the win wasn't without drama for the Subaru Impreza WRC driver. Co-driven by Aled Davies, he won every stage to overcome a time penalty and win his third Sunseeker, adding to his victories in 1998 and 2004.  

In a depleted field, missing seven time event winner Marcus Dodd as well as regulars like Steve Perez, Paul Bird and Andy Burton, Duckworth stormed away to win the first stage, but then picked up a two minute penalty  for arriving at time control early.

This dropped him down to nineteenth, but he pushed on to make up the penalty and eventually retook the lead on SS9, despite suffering launch control issues on his Impreza. A superb run on the final two stages meant his final winning margin was 55.3 seconds, proving the considerable pace he had over his closest rivals.

Duckworth's biggest threat for most the rally was the crew of Anthony Wilmington and Andrew White. The duo took advantage of Duckworth's penalty to take the lead after SS2 and held it until SS7, when the wheel studs sheared off their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, forcing them to retire.

Benefitting from Wilmington's retirement to briefly take the lead was Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX driver Colin Britton. Co-driven by Arthur Kierans, he impressed with his pace and led for two stages and despite losing out to Duckworth; he still managed to beat many crews with much more experience of the Dorset forests than he has.

Completing the podium was Wug and Max Utting in their Subaru Impreza, ahead of fellow Impreza outfit Garry Pearson and Laura Marshall, the Scottish pairing doing weel on their first outing in the car. Completing the top five was Calum and Claudia McLeod in their popular MG S2000.

Sixth overall and the first 2WD finisher was Matt Thorne and Les Harrogate in their Ford Escort Mk II, beating fellow Escort crew Jason and Sally Wyatt to the class 2E honours. In the annual battle of the Skoda's, Darren Jones and Paul Burley's Felicia came out on top, beating James and Colin Beckett's Favorit, winning the 2C class in the process.

For Stuart and Simon Larbey, there wasn't the happy ending all the fans had hoped for as their MG Metro 6R4 retired on SS9 with a broken front diff on its last ever appearance on the Sunseeker event. Another high profile retirement was Kevin Rowledge, a possible contender for a podium finish, who was forced to retire his Ford Focus WRC with Clutch issues.

In the historic section of the rally, running over eight of the Sunseeker's eleven stages, it was Richard Lane and Frank Richer who took the spoils, heading a Ford Escort one-two-three. Ernie Graham and Chris Parsons finished second, with Peter Egerton and Alun Cook completing the podium. The first Mini home was driven by Clive King in fifth place. There was only one retirement in the Historic rally, with John Brooks' clutch giving way on his Mini Cooper.