Rallye Sunseeker , which featured a Friday evening section for the first time, witnessed a nail biting finish as the lead changed twice in the final three stages. Roger Duckworth won Rallye Sunseeker for the first time, but by the narrowest of margins! Driving a Subaru Impreza WRC and co-driven by Mark Broomfield, he arrived back at the finish in Bournemouth just six-tenths of a second ahead of runners-up Craig Middleton/Robin Hernaman whose Hyundai Accent WRC had actually been leading the event prior to the start of the final stage
Winner of the rally on four of the last five occasions, Marcus Dodd had entered in a hired Toyota Corolla WRC and, after a steady start, had moved into the lead of his ‘home’ event. Having survived the snow and ice that covered many of the morning stages, Dodd had eked out a lead of half-a-minute over Middleton, when a particularly slippery corner on the fourteenth stage caught him out. The Toyota slid down an embankment and, although the crew were unhurt, it was immediately obvious that it was going no further.
Middleton inherited the lead but his Hyundai had already chipped a tooth off third gear, which had begun to slow its progress. However, he had managed to hold off Duckworth to the point that he was 12 seconds ahead of the Impreza driver with one stage to go. Third gear then disappeared altogether leaving Middleton to get the finish as best he could – with, as far as he was concerned, disastrous consequences!
North Yorkshire motor trader Steve Petch took third place in another Hyundai