“THIS event pretty much belongs to him.”

The announcer got it spot on as a scaled back but impressive Rallye Sunseeker came to a close at Bournemouth Pier on Saturday.

Winner Marcus Dodd from Poole took the trophy for the seventh time after racing at speeds of more than 100mph on lanes and dirt tracks.

The 39-year-old, who now lives in Organford near Wareham, played down his achievements after getting the bubbly from Bournemouth mayor and motorsport fan Cllr Beryl Baxter.

The Rallye brings more than £700,000 into the area but faced cutbacks during the credit crunch.

The spectacular night stage that usually kicks off the race in Bournemouth – with a crowd of up to 10,000 people – was dropped.

Instead there was a parade at Poole Quay and a ceremonial start at the Civic Centre, and the police estimated the crowd at up to 5,000.

There were 73 entrants, compared to more than 100 in previous years, but the big name drivers in the top cars were still there.

Dodd’s co-driver Anthony Bargery, 39, from Hove, said: “Apart from the Rally Great Britain, I don’t think there’s anything else that can match this for razzmatazz, organisation and bringing rallying to the wider public.”

At the finale, race director Rick Smith seemed to make a plea for the council to reinstate its £3,000 grant towards the Friday night stage.

He wondered if the council “perhaps might help us” when the race returns for its 25th birthday next year.

Mr Smith particularly praised the 800 volunteer marshals who cover the event’s 10 stages through the forests around Wareham and Ringwood.

The motorfair at Somerley Park saw a parade of Richard Burns’ rally cars. The former world champion died of cancer aged 34 in 2005, and competed in Dorset in 1992.

Bournemouth’s Littledown Centre hosted scrutineering on Friday and on Saturday the cars were serviced at Canford Magna Arena.