Monday, 2 March 2009

Rally beset with problems

Motorsport fans were left disappointed two days running after both legs of the two-day Rallye Sunseeker were cut short.

Friday night's action came to an abrupt end after a Subaru Impreza, driven by Geoff Underhill, brought down a lamp post in a dramatic 100mph smash on the Undercliffe Drive between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers.

The danger caused by the exposed live cable meant organisers had no choice but to halt the race. Underhill had to be cut out of his car and was taken to Poole Hospital with ankle injuries.

A Land Rover Discovery, driven by Andy Drummond, also made an early exit after losing an argument with some railings just half a mile into the stage.

The contest continued in Ringwood Forest the following morning but had to be brought to an early conclusion shortly after 5pm after a spectator was taken ill with a suspected heart attack. The race was stopped and the track cleared to allow emergency crews to gain access.

After thirteen gruelling stages Will Nicholls, from Ventnor, Isle of Wight, and Nick Broom, of Yeovil, Somerset, emerged triumphant in their Subaru Impreza WRC, almost half a minute ahead of their nearest rivals, Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield, both from Northamptonshire.

Subaru Imprezas dominated the podium as Sean Devine and Francis Regan, of Ireland, took the third place.

The annual event, now in its 24th year, also acts as the opening round of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship and the Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge.