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Sweet 16 for Imogen Cannell

Father and daughter crew Nigel and Imogen Cannell (Mitsubishi Evo 9) scored a start to finish victory in the Duke Stages Rally to earn 16 year-old Imogen the moniker of youngest ever Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Champion.

The pair expected a significant challenge from both Tim Collins/Paul McCann (Evo 9) and Steve Colley/Mark Rodman (Evo 8), but both crews were in trouble immediately, puncturing on the opening stage down Glenneedle.

James Quirk/Ed Kennaugh rolled their Vauxhall Corsa out on the next test on the Lhoobs and by first service, Imogen’s chief rival for the co-drivers crown, Stephen Fox, was also gone with he and driver Andrew Holmes sidelined by gearbox failure in their Vauxhall Astra.

The drama didn’t let up there with Ben Hardy/Richard Killip rolling their Astra on the next stage at Corlea.

At lunchtime service, Sean Kelly/Emma Kennaugh (Evo 7) held second place, just two seconds ahead of Collins with Colley in fourth.

However, as the rally moved east for six tests around Baldrine a band of heavy rain arrived.

With tyre choice having been made back in St John’s, the effect was huge with all three of the Cannell’s lead chasers departing the fray.

Collins retired before the first stage of the loop with a broken driveshaft, Colley broke a rear strut against a bank in the treacherous conditions on Ballacoar and Kelly also left the road on the next test at Baldromma, smashing the intercooler.

It left the Cannell’s to cruise through the final four stages over Staarvey and Little London to take victory by one minute 54 seconds over the Vauxhall Nova of Martyn Jones/David Radcliffe, who had a relatively trouble free rally to be the leading two-wheel drive crew.

Graham Collister, on his first event for 15 months, claimed third with Anton Cashen (Evo 3).

A total of 18 of the 28 starters completed the event.

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