The First Land Rover Rally Series Trophy Is Still Anyone's Grab

The Brits had a riot racing Bowler-modified Land Rover Defender 90s this weekend, because of course they did. They've now successfully carried out three rounds of Rover racing, with four to go, championship honors are still wide open!

Land Rover is hoping to get some Dakar competitors out of this. I reckon it's a great and decidedly original use of the iconic Defender. It's gone just about everywhere in the name of pimping the brand, it's about time it goes rally racing!

The First Land Rover Rally Series Trophy Is Still Anyone's Grab

The recap from Land Rover:

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 First Land Rover Rally Series Trophy Is Still Anyone's Grab

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.

Official Results:

PositionCarDriverCo-DriverTime
1VK13 ULYEdd CobleyAllan Jackson0:54:09
2VK63 XEFQuin EvansStephanie Boddez0:58:13
3VK63 XEUDamian TaftSimon Taft0:59:45
4VK13 ULXRichard HaywardMathew Lister1:06:19
5WP63 FPLMatt MillsJon Chester1:08:32
6WN62 XRDSimon ArmstrongAynslie Morrow1:09:17*
7VO63 XYWSteve RichardsKevin Handley1:10:41

*includes 1 min penalty

Images: Land Rover