Edd Cobley and Jonathan Harford shared a car to win the final round of the 2014 Defender Challenge at the Borders Hillrally, claiming the inaugural title for Team Harford, but this weekend they’ll go head-to-head in the forests of West Somerset (somersetstagesrally.com).
Top seed Cobley, a Land Rover Experience instructor for the East of England centre at Rockingham, and one of LRO’s off-road driving experts, is paired with John Tomley. Look for Defender number 107, which is sure to be flying through the stages, mostly sideways. He’ll certainly have his eyes set on embarrassing some of the four-wheel drive Subarus and Mitsubishis starting in front of him. He’s done that before.
Harford drives number 161, with series newcomer John Boughton on the maps.
Other teams back for more include number 134, David Johnston/Joseph Monaghan. They’re quick, winning the Cambrian Rally round on their debut last year, but they spectacularly rolled the Defender at the Borders Hillrally, costing them a podium finish.
Car 145 of ex-Camel Trophy competitor Damien Taft, co-driven by Simon Taft, showed good pace throughout 2014, but was another Defender that found itself on its side a couple of times. They’ll be aiming to keep it shiny side up this year.
Car 162, Richard Hayward/Matt Lister, finished the 2014 championship in fifth place and will be hoping to avoid the two-minute time penalty they accrued last time out in Somerset.
Car 163 should be driven by Land Rover engineer and racer Lynfel Owen, who finished on the podium at the season-closing Borders event last year.
Look out for three new teams, too:
Car 164: Christian Fremont/Peter Janssen
Car 165: Garreth Carruthers/Wallace McKay
Car 166: Brian Palmer/Calum MacPhail
The official spectator areas are within the Kennisham forest and Chargot stages, both accessed from the B3224 between Raleghs Cross and Wheddon Cross (OS Landranger 181, grid ref SS 964359). The stages will be run twice during the day, approximately at 10:30am (SS4) and 2:20pm (SS9).
You can also see the cars close up on the seafront at Minehead on Friday 17, and the service area there on race day, Saturday 18.
Land Rover Owner International is proud to be the official media partner of the 2015 Defender Challenge by Bowler. For more information on the championship, see: bowlermotorsport.com