With vehicle owner Rob Harford unavailable to drive at the Rainworth Skoda Forest Rally, Land Rover Experience East of England instructor and LRO’s off-roading expert Edd took the wheel for the second time this season, and once again demonstrated he’s the man to beat.
Cobley and co-driver Allan ‘Jacko’ Jackson finished more than four minutes clear of Race2Recovery’s 90 (driven this time by Defender Challenge newcomers Quin Evans and Stephanie Boddez), and ranked a well-deserved 31st overall – Evans and Boddez were 65th out of 89 finishers. ‘They came past us like we were standing still!’ commented Bowler brand director Jon Chester, co-driving for Matt Mills.
On stage nine of the 42-mile event, Clipstone South 2, Cobley placed a stunning 17th overall in the 2.2 TDCi Defender – matching the 5min 34sec time of the 15th and 16th placed Datsun 240Z and Ford Escort Mk2. By comparison, rally winner Steve Perez’s ex-Marcus Gronholm Ford Focus WRC was exactly a minute faster through the 4.27-mile stage.
Challenging and inconsistent conditions contributed to 34 of the 123 entrants failing to finish – but all the Defenders made it to the end without incident. The morning’s action was rain-lashed and rough, with all the Defender Challenge competitors reporting huge ruts in places – no problem for the Land Rovers. The afternoon’s stages started slippy, but became more progressive as the forest tracks dried out.
Another great learning experience for the teams building up to international rally raids, the event once again proved how tough and reliable the Defenders are. Team Wicklow underlined that by driving their 90 almost 300 miles from Glasgow to Nottinghamshire, doing the rally, then driving it back to Scotland.
Although the experienced pairing of Cobley/Jackson were well in front again, the Dukeries showed that the regular competitors – many of whom have never rallied before this year – are getting to grips with the sport and upping their pace as a result. At round one in Mid-Wales, half an hour covered the four Defender Challenge finishers, with almost 12 minutes between first and second, but on the Dukeries 16.5 minutes covered all seven competitors.
Defender Challenge by Bowler – round 3
Dukeries Rally, Notts
1 Edd Cobley/Allan Jackson (Team Harford) – 54min 9sec
2 Quin Evans/Stephanie Boddez (Team Race2Recovery) – 58min 13sec
3 Damien Taft/Simon Taft – 59min 45sec
4 Richard Hayward/Matt Lister – 1hr 6min 19sec
5 Matt Mills/Jon Chester – 1hr 8min 32sec
6 Simon Armstrong/Aynslie Morrow (Team Wicklow) – 1hr 9min 17sec*
7 Stephen Richards/Kevin Handley – 1hr 10 min 41sec
*inc. 1min road penalty
Defender Challenge by Bowler.