Third round of Defender Challenge at Dukeries Rally

Edd Cobley takes his second podium top spotRace2Recovery follow their previous win with a second placeChallenge for the title wide open with four rounds remaining

Sherwood Forest came alive this weekend as the Defender Challenge by Bowler delighted spectators at the 55th Dukeries Rally in Nottinghamshire.

Seven teams lined-up in their Bowler-prepared Land Rover Defender 90 vehicles for Round 3 of the series, which aims to provide a pathway for teams who aspire to compete in the toughest races in the world, such as the Dakar and the Africa Race.

Edd Cobley and his co-driver Allan Jackson took top honours after a thrilling day’s racing through the tough forest gravel tracks and dirt roads of Nottinghamshire’s famous Sherwood Forest.

Teams set off from Southwell Racecourse before 44 miles of stage racing saw the skills of drivers and co-drivers tested across a route incorporating forest areas such as Watchwood, Sherwood Pines and Blidworth Woods. Heavy rain throughout the morning meant track conditions were very slippery with all competitors reporting difficult stretches requiring absolute concentration. So difficult were the conditions, that the overall rally had a 30 per cent DNF (Did Not Finish) rate. All seven Defenders completed the entire course.

The popular Race2Recovery, well-known for their previous record-breaking Dakar exploits, had been looking to build on their debut victory in Round 2. Driver Quin Evans, and navigator Stephanie Boddez took 2nd place in class. The team is using the series to train up new recruits including civilians and people from the military who have suffered injury or illness and are looking for a way to inspire their rehabilitation.

Speaking at the finish line, Edd Cobley said: “I had a fantastic day and despite the conditions, felt really comfortable in the car. The surfaces were a real challenge varying from loose tarmac to gravel to pine leaves which feel just like ice. Allan has been brilliant and we have overtaken quite a few of the rally cars out on stage.

“To take a second win after three stages is absolutely brilliant and above all the atmosphere and camaraderie between all the competitors is fantastic – it’s been a really enjoyable event.”

Reflecting on a strong day of racing, Quin Evans from Race2Recovery who finished second said: “Another great day and another great result. Stephanie has been learning to read the pace notes and we have performed really well. There really is no better way to pick up the skills and build confidence.”

Speaking at the finish line, Jon Chester, Brand Director, Bowler said: “The weather made conditions remarkably challenging today and everyone experienced the fine balance between pace and finishing the race. The Defenders performed exceptionally well with all seven vehicles making it to the finish line in a race where there was a very high level of attrition.

“We look forward to the next round in July which will be the Challenge’s first Hill rally and will further test the driving and navigation skills of all the competitors.”

With four rounds still remaining, the teams are set to meet further challenges across a demanding blend of hill rallies and stage rallies spread across South Wales, Shropshire and Dorset, before the final round takes place in Scotland in mid-November. Entrants will also have the option of competing in additional rallies in Europe and North Africa alongside the Bowler Works team.

People wishing to find out more information about the Defender Challenge by Bowler should visit: Updates during the race can be found on the @LandroverUKPR twitter feed.

Defender Challenge by Bowler results from Round 3:

Position Car Driver Co-Driver Time1 VK13 ULY Edd Cobley Allan Jackson 0:54:092 VK63 XEF Quin Evans Stephanie Boddez 0:58:133 VK63 XEU Damian Taft Simon Taft 0:59:454 VK13 ULX Richard Hayward Mathew Lister 1:06:195 WP63 FPL Matt Mills Jon Chester 1:08:326 WN62 XRD Simon Armstrong Aynslie Morrow 1:09:17*7 VO63 XYW Steve Richards Kevin Handley 1:10:41*includes 1 min penalty