Right from the treacherous first stage, held in the dark, the Team Sturgess pair were consistently among the ten fastest National B cars. The event’s fast, undulating gravel shouldn’t really suit the TDCi Defender, but Cobley’s flat-out style netted an astonishing sixth overall. Cobley said: ‘Saturday night was probably the most scared I have ever been in any vehicle. Truly epic. The best stages ever!’
Defenderists Scott Faulkner and Richard Mills were well placed for the runner-up spot, but rolled their Land Rover Defender 90 a mile from the end of the very last stage. The struggle to reset the fuel cut-off switch cost them 10 more minutes.
Defender Challenge rookies Andrew Craig and Trevor Cattle made an impressive debut, with fourth place – neither of the ‘Flying Scotsmen’ had competed in motorsport before, and they’d only previously had a couple of hours’ testing with their Bowler Defender 90, tutored by Edd Cobley.
Right behind them, and also new for 2016, was the Land Rover-sponsored Forces charity entry for Mission Motorsport, which helps those leaving the military find jobs in the automotive industry. Their distinctive Royal Foundation Endeavour Fund liveried 90 was crewed by James Webley and Russ Anderson in Wales.
Bowler Motorsport’s Jon Chester was delighted with how the Defenders performed: ‘We had no reliability issues, no punctures with the Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx control tyres, and a really palpable sense of community among the drivers.’
The next outing for the Defender Challenge is the Rally North Wales at Dolgellau on April 2.