This year saw a huge field of 160 cars take on 43 stage miles of gravel tracks through some of the best-known forest stages in the country. The six Challenge Defenders ran at the back of the massive field, leading to tricky conditions for them on stage three, in particular. ‘It was difficult to read the ground. One minute you’ve got loads of grip then you’ve got nothing,’ said Matt Mills in car 39.
The Ludlow round saw Bowler Motorsport’s managing director Drew Bowler make his stage rallying debut. ‘This is my first experience of stage rallying. I was surprised how much grip we’d got, though stage three felt a bit slippery,’ said Drew. ‘I’ve really enjoyed myself.’
It was also a good weekend for the Land Rover-backed Race2Recovery team, who celebrated its fourth consecutive podium finish in Ludlow. Driver Ben Gott said: ‘It was another brilliant race – the car is in tip top condition so we couldn’t ask for much more. It’s been a great weekend and to finish second was unexpected.’
Team Harford’s car still retains a commanding lead in the championship with just two rounds remaining. ‘I’m ecstatic to make it four wins in a row,’ said Edd. ‘It’s been a brilliant event I’m looking forward to the next round already.’
The final two rounds of the Bowler Defender Challenge are at the Cambrian Rally, October 18, and the Borders Hill Rally, November 22-23.
Results for the Defender Challenge by Bowler – Round 5, Woodpecker Stages
1 Edd Cobley & Allan (Jacko) Jackson (Team Harford), 54mins 8secs
2 Ben Gott & Stephanie Boddez (Race 2 Recovery), 56mins 40secs
3 Damien Taft & Simon Taft, 59mins dead
4 Drew Bowler & Matthew Lister (Team Hayward), 59mins 52secs
5 Stephen John Richards & Kevin Handley, 1hr 7mins 6secs
6 Matthew Mills & Jonathan Harford, 1hr 9mins 10secs
Defender Challenge Championship positions after five rounds: