Bowler Navigates the Culminating Stage of the 2023 Final Round

Bowler Motors Navigates Triumphs and Trials at the Culminating Stage of the UK 2023 Final Round

Posted on 29 November 2023


Bowler Motors Navigates Triumphs and Trials at the Culminating Stage of the UK 2023 Final Round
  • The Bowler Motors Defender Rally team successfully conquered the 14 challenging stages at the Scottish Borders Hill Rally, marking the culmination of the 2023 UK Series

  • The Defenders exhibited an impressive pace amidst a fiercely competitive field

  • The event witnessed gripping moments, including a double roll by a Defender and subsequent overnight repairs

  • Dave Beecroft, one of our Defender drivers, rebounded from a previous crash at this venue, triumphantly achieving a clear first place in the Defender Rally Series class

The grand finale of the 2023 Defender Rally Series unfolded amidst the perilous terrain of the Scottish Borders Hill Rally, where the unforgiving landscapes and dense forests provided the ultimate test for both the cars’ robustness and the drivers’ mettle. This concluding round held pivotal importance in securing crucial points for the UK championship’s top positions.

Anticipation ran high among the driver teams as they prepared to tackle the challenging race; a gruelling endurance rally comprising 14 stages spanning over more than 100 miles. The event encompassed diverse terrains, including hill rallies, gravel stages, and night stages, featuring technically demanding sections and high-speed stretches.

As the culmination of a year’s worth of driver development and experience, all the lessons learned were to be applied in this decisive round. The challenging Scottish weather, characterised by strong winds and incessant rain, added an extra layer of complexity to the competition.

Recalling the previous year’s final round at the same event, where the Scottish terrain posed a formidable challenge, driver Dave Beecroft had encountered a significant crash. Despite the doubts surrounding the vehicle’s repairability by onlookers at the time, the Bowler Works Team successfully restored the car overnight; a testament to their skill and determination, and the Defender’s strength.

Watch the video from that event below:

Returning to the event this year, Dave Beecroft and co-driver Fraser Parish were immediately off to a flying start, displaying remarkable speed to lead the Defender class, and finish just 28 seconds behind the overall stage leader. The determination to not only complete the event but emerge victorious was evident throughout the event.

Lee Caroline and co-driver Barney Gillespie also started strong but faced an unfortunate roll in stage 2, leading to their withdrawal from the race.

Jorma Jokela and his brother and co-driver Janne, who had flown from Finland to compete in this event, were named as hot to watch for this event due to having a strong position overall in the championship. When asked his strategy at the start of the event, Jorma commented that they would take it steady to begin with and increase the speed as they adapt to the terrain and the stages.

Jorma started with a good pace coming in 5th in the Defender class after the first stage, which he maintained for the first few stages. With a podium finish for the championship in sight, Jorma pushed on as planned, and progressed through the ranks. By stage 4, he’d moved up to 4th position in the Defender class, then up another place to 3rd by the end of stage 5, and then also suffered a roll, straight after a fast stretch.

The car was returned to the Bowler service area for assessment, where the teams felt confident that they could repair the car, despite the heavy damage.

Given the go-ahead from Jorma, the Bowler Works Team pulled together and began removing the damaged parts. Spare parts are taken to every event, including windscreens, and all that was needed externally was a local company to come out and put Jorma’s new windscreen into place.

The Bowler Works Team had their own race against the clock, diligently striving to restore Jorma’s Defender, battling the heavy damage and torrential downpour. The team exhibited unwavering resolve in facilitating Jorma’s return to the competition, finally completing the job at 3am.

After testing later in the morning, Jorma and Janne’s car was given the all-clear and they were able to get back onto stage, and picked back up the pace to gain the additional championship points.

Watch Jorma’s on-board video footage: 

Bowler Motors Navigates Triumphs and Trials at the Culminating Stage of the UK 2023 Final Round

Vanessa Ruck and Chris Cuming started at the back in the Defender class. They progressively climbed up positions as the stages passed, ending day one in 2nd place. Vanessa also experienced a mishap and found her car became stuck off-track on its side – determined to get back racing, and recalling on her Bowler driver training, Vanessa quickly switched out of Bowler Mode to reactivate the Defender’s own off-road electronics, so the car could be moved back out of place. Vanessa’s previous training off-road in Defenders helped her handle the car as she slowly edged it back onto stage. Once the car was safely out, Vanessa reactivated the racing Bowler Mode, and pushed on again. By the end of the second day, they’d fallen back a little, ending the event in 3rdplace in the Defender class.

Watch Vanessa Ruck’s story of the event here:

Paul White and codriver Pete Wilson had a strong start by ending the first stage in 4th place in the Defender class, which quickly changed to 2nd place by the end of the 2nd stage. They also experienced challenges with a couple of small crashes and a time penalty of 11 minutes, but they maintained an impressive pace throughout the event; only temporarily slipping to 3rd behind Vanessa for a few stages, then regaining their 2nd place by the end of the event.

Beecroft maintained his dominance throughout the competition, leading in 1st place in the Defender class across all 14 stages. Finishing 7th overall marked a significant improvement from his initial 11th position.

We’re proud of our driver teams and Bowler Works team for all they achieved. So much so, that during the Awards Ceremony, Dave Marsh the Head of Motorsport for Bowler, gave the Bowler Works team the Spirit of the Rally Award; a testament to their unwavering commitment and dedication.

The UK Series has now come to a close for 2023 and the championship winners will be announced soon, and the 2024 Series is looking to be larger and better than ever.

View the documentary video from our event here:

Bowler Motors Navigates Triumphs and Trials at the Culminating Stage of the UK 2023 Final Round
Bowler Motors Navigates Triumphs and Trials at the Culminating Stage of the UK 2023 Final Round

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