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Mellors marvels with Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages win

Ollie Mellors and Ian Windress gave the Proton Iriz R5 it’s first rally victory since the Cambrian Rally in 2018, dominating the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally to win by 20 seconds after five tough stages in the Welsh Marches and Shropshire forests on Saturday (31st August).

Mellors set the benchmark on the opening test, setting equal fastest time with Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson’s Ford Fiesta WRC, before breaking away on the second and never looked back. Mellors’ win gave the Proton it’s first ever rally win since being fully after being homologated by the FIA for international use.
 
Despite running number 15 seed, a stunning drive from youngster George Lepley in his Mitsubishi Lancer E10, saw him storm to a very impressive second place overall with co-driver Tom Woodburn alongside, netting maximum Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA points.
 
Petch salvaged the final podium spot, unable to add to his 2016 event win. Two-wheel drive honours and first Ludlow driver home went to local ace Henri Grehan in his Ford Escort MK2, with Jack Bowen alongside. He also scooped maximum Race and Rally – Rally 2 Championship points in the process.
 
The biggest entry in British rallying during 2019 headed to Ludlow for the 36thrunning of the Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club organised event as 160 cars headed into forests such as Haye Park and Radnor for an arduous day of motorsport.

Mellors was last behind the wheel of the Proton at Goodwood Festival of Speed but showed no sign of needing to bed into the Haye Park stage, setting a joint fastest time with Petch on the opener. The forest was the scene of his departure from the rally in 2013 but his rapid return was impressive. However, stopping the clocks on the same time was Petch with Sam Bilham just four seconds adrift in his Fiesta R5.
 
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Image : Rallysport Media - Mellors in action
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A run to Radnor forest across the border in Wales saw Mellors stamp his authority well and truly on the leaderboard, going 16 seconds faster than anyone else and ensuring a comfortable lead heading into the second loop. The stage sadly saw the retirement of Bilham, with Lepley making his mark yet again thanks to second fastest and closing in on Petch. A repeat order in the following Haye Park test followed which enhanced Mellors’ lead, but Lepley didn’t relent over the remainder of the day, chasing the Proton driver down to the wire.
 
However, it wouldn’t be enough and Mellors was delighted to secure a Woodpecker win.
 
“It’s been a fantastic day with no dramas at all really” he said, “we clipped a bale on stage two but aside from that its been trouble free which is always a bonus.”
 
“The car has been fantastic and it’s great to be give the Proton its first rally win since its homologation. The stages have been great which helps, it’s nice to be back”
 
Just outside the podium spots, Ian Bainbridge quickly got to grips with his new Skoda Fabia R5 to set some top three times during the day on his way to fourth spot. Co-driven by Jamie Edwards, Bainbridge adapted well from his old Subaru to take his best result of 2019.
 
Rounding out the top five, Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence brought their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX home with the Production Cup honours in the process ahead of Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship winners Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy in a similar machine.
 
Local lad Grehan was the star of the show in the two-wheel-drive category, but the result does not tell the full story as an epic local battle between Ludlow’s Grehan and Hereford’s Roger Chilman developed during the day. It would only be decided on the final test when Chilman’s Ford Escort MK2 lost a wheel, giving Grehan a much-deserved victory.
 
Andy Davison and Tom Murphy were third, with Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell making the trip from Draperstown in Northern Ireland worthwhile to take fourth.
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Image : Rallysport Media - Lepley impressed on 4wd debut to take second
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“Its been a difficult day to be honest” said Grehan.
 
“It started off well and we had a good time through the opening stage which helped us throughout the day. We have been hanging on for the rest of rally to make it through and here we are spraying the champagne.
 
Clerk of the Course Graham Hopewell was delighted with the day.
 
“We have to say a huge thank you to all our volunteer marshals and officials who had a long day in the forests to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible” he said.
 
”With such a big entry, its inevitable that some delays can happen but each and every one of the team were true professionals. It’s been a fantastic days motorsport and great to see such a diverse entry in the forests around Ludlow and the thousands of spectators who were out enjoying the action. We will have a few weeks off now before the planning for the 37th Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally gets underway”.
 
The award-winning rally was a qualifier for the popular Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series, the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Stage Rally Championship, the Maxxis Tyres Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, the Brian Dennis Motorsport & www.jelfmotorsport.com Welsh Historic Rally Championship the ANWCC Forest Rally Championship and The Race and Rally - Rally 2 Championship.
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Image : Rallysport Media - Petch
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Image : Rallysport Media - Local ace Grehan took 2wd honours
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The Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally is set to host one of the most popular events in the British Rallying calendar on 31st August, as organisers reveal the details of the Ludlow based event whilst entries open this week.

Sponsored once again by Midlands-based signage specialists Eventsigns, the award-winning rally has once again attracted a host of rally championships which is expected to see one of the highest number of competitors tackle a forest rally this season.

The 36th running of the Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club all-gravel event will see the event’s tried and tested event format retain its popular features whilst receiving some small tweaks for 2019 to ensure both experienced and novice competitors can enjoy a challenging days competition in the forests. Crews will tackle around 44 stage miles across high-quality stages in the Welsh Marches and Shropshire forests.

After technical checks and documentation on Friday 30th August at the now traditional Ludlow Racecourse rally base, competitors will be flagged away early on Saturday 31st August from the venue. Ahead of them will be five classic stages including the Haye Park, Radnor and Hopton forest complex, returning to the Racecourse for two services and the ceremonial finish.

After being the first event to trial a new format in 2018, the Woodpecker Stages will ensure crews in two-wheel-drive machinery get the opportunity to sample some of the smoothest forest roads by running the category first on the road in a reverse seeded order. They will then be followed by the four-wheel-drive crews, conventionally seeded.

Clerk of the Course Graham Hopewell believes that the event will once again be able to provide a classic day’s motorsport for all.

“We have some stunning stages at our disposal this year and we are confident that we have devised a great route and format for everyone to enjoy” he says.

“In the past two years, the rally has won best BTRDA, Welsh and Welsh Historic event so we have a good understanding of what competitors want. Having just five stages means that they are all a good length for crews to really get stuck into. But to try and shake things up a bit, the afternoon runs of Haye Park and Radnor will have a different route to the morning loop, keeping everyone on their toes. The stages look great and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to Ludlow at the end of August”.

The event is a qualifying round of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series, Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series, the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Stage Rally Championship, the Maxxis Tyres Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, the Brian Dennis Motorsport & www.jelfmotorsport.com Welsh Historic Rally Championship and the ANWCC Forest Rally Championship. The Race and Rally - Rally 2 Championship joins the event for the first time.

More information on the event, regulations and entry forms can be found at
www.woodpecker-rally.co.uk
 
Spectator access, times and locations will be issued on the event website in August.
 

-ENDS


Congratulations to Ollie Mellors & Ian Windress on their first Woodpecker win. Thank you to all the marshals, safety and radio crews, without you there would not be a rally


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