The Defender Challenge by Bowler championship will be decided this weekend, with Race2Recovery and Team Harford going head-to-head to win the inaugural title.
Championship leaders Team Harford, driven by Edd Cobley, a Land Rover Experience instructor from Leicestershire, lead the series by just one point, from team Race2Recovery, who are driven by Surrey’s Ben Gott.
Cobley had hoped to secure the title at last month’s Cambrian Rally, but his hopes were dashed, after a dramatic off in North Wales left him only able to recover one championship point.
He said: “I went to North Wales hoping to win the championship, but it wasn’t to be, and now I’ve got a very tough weekend of racing ahead. The Race2Recovery team has been pushing me all season, so it’s great for the championship to have a final round decider.
“It would be a fantastic achievement for me to win a national rally championship, and having driven so well all season, I’m desperate to finish the job and be the first Defender Challenge champion.”
To win the title, Cobley needs to finish the Borders Hill Rally ahead of the on-form Race2Recovery team, which has recorded five consecutive podium finishes in the Defender Challenge.
The Race2Recovery team enables people with disabilities to participate in professional motorsport and has received backing from partner Land Rover to enable its entry in the series.
One of the disabled members of the Race2Recovery team, female co-driver Stephanie Boddez, has won plaudits for her efforts in the series so far. Belgian Boddez uses prosthetic limbs after losing both her legs to meningitis at the age of 17. She became involved with the Race2Recovery team when she contacted them after watching them on the Top Gear TV series. The team invited her to join them for a day in the co-driver’s seat and, after she showed a natural flair for navigating, they invited her to become a full member of the race team.
She said: “I’ve heard some great things about the Borders Hill Rally, and after coming second in the Welsh Hill Rally earlier in the year, we think it should suit us and we can do very well there. It’s exciting to be in contention for the championship and we’ll try to push Edd all the way in Scotland.”
Race2Recovery driver Ben Gott, from Farnham in Surrey, said: “We’ve really improved as the series has gone on, so to be in with a shout of winning the championship is fantastic. Stephanie has been an excellent co-driver for us and it would be great if we could finish the series in style and win the championship.”
2014 is the inaugural year of the Defender Challenge by Bowler race series, which features seven rounds, held across the UK. The series has been created to offer competitors a clear pathway to further international rally raid competition such as the Africa Race and Dakar Rally. Three teams from the Defender Challenge are currently preparing to compete at Dakar in 2016.