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Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages 2023

This year’s Woodpecker Rally organised by Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club was one with a difference. Due to the loss of the legendary Radnor complex, the organising team had to look a little further afield and brought in stages at Cwmysgawen and Ceri with the traditional stage lengthened by short sections of closed public roads.

However the event did have a welcome return to the start/finish facilities of Ludlow Racecourse and saw the Motorsport UK Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship along with long time Woodpecker supporters, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, the IPS Paints Rally Challenge, the ANWCC Forest Stage Rally Championship and the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Rally Challenge all return to the event utilising both the National and Interclub Rally sections.

An incredible 21 members of Ludlow Castle Motor Club started the event, which saw them endure an incredibly hot, long day with some mixed results and lots of entertainment.

National Rally

Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Media

Joe Price/Chris Brooks – 1st Overall

Fourth outing for Joe Price and Chris Brooks in the B. Price Mus-Max Specialist Ltd backed Ford Escort this year. Focussing on a clean start and pushing harder when it felt comfortable, Joe chose not to check times until halfway where he found he had a slim lead. During the afternoon he maintained pace and extended his lead without taking risks, recording a 6th class win on the Woodpecker and second victory from four starts in 2023.

Photo courtesy of Rally & Motorsports Photography

Richard Gough/Jez Rogers – 8th Overall, 6th in Class

Jez’s report says it all – ‘What can I say about the weekend. Felt honoured to be sat in that car with Mr Gough in his back yard. Great bloke, great fun and still competitive. Probably one of if not the highlight of my rallying given I used to watch him growing up and am aware of his achievements let alone the cars history. Awesome days motorsport!’. Not much more you can say other than it was evident the fun they were having just by the smiles on their faces.

Robert Gough/Paul Morris – DNF

Probably a day to forget for Robert with a double puncture on Stage 1 seeing him out of the running and into retirement.

Interclub Rally

Photo courtesy of Rally & Motorsports Photography

Simon Rogers/James How – 9th Overall, 3rd in Class

The long-time pairing came into this event off the back of a rare and annoying mechanical retirement on the Nicky Grist, so the pressure was on to deliver a solid finish.

They found the conditions all day very challenging with the heat in the car and struggled to keep hydrated. A slow rear puncture on the first run of Ceri didn’t cost too much time and they had good runs through both Hopton and Haye Park, the latter a long-time favourite for Simon and many others.

Into the second loop and the very long run out to Cwmysgawen was interrupted by a crazy lady on a road section who literally whacked the roof of their car with a broomstick, certainly a first while doing maybe 5 mph at the time.

Shame to lose that stage after an unfortunate accident for a historic competitor and hope they have a swift recovery.

They had a better run through the second Ceri keeping all tyres inflated this time. A bit of dust in stage but reportedly not too bad. Hopton went well too but the dust was getting worse. Into the final stage in Haye Park, knowing it would be marginal on daylight so put the lamp pod on and also managed to wangle a 2-minute gap at the start. A hard push through here allowed the crew to jump Daniel Sigurdsson by 2s and end 13th overall on the combined event and 9th overall on the Interclub 3rd in B13 class. Some more valuable Welsh Championship points takes the pair back to a podium spot in the overall championship.

Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Media

Colin Griffiths/Marc Morgan – 18th Overall, 7th in Class

A great day had by Colin and Marc in the Subaru Impreza. The hard work they put in paid off and Colin reported that Marc had done a great job on the notes for his first event. A couple of small dramas from the driver’s side otherwise pretty clean runs were the order of the day. They did feel that they could definitely have gone better in the afternoon, but Colin struggled to concentrate due to fatigue and decided to bring the car home without incident. Gym membership for Christmas perhaps?

Photo courtesy of Rally & Motorsports Photography

Trevor Ridge/Chris Ridge – 58th Overall, 3rd in Class

The Cafe 46 sponsored Ford Fiesta of father and son pairing Trevor and Chris Ridge saw them competing on their first event since 2004. The aim of the day was always a finish as Trevor had only done notes twice before and had never driven the car in anger.

Other than a big spin in SS2 ruining rookie marshal Henri Grehan’s danger tape, they had a good run around and Trevor became a lot more confident as the day went on. Chris enjoyed shouting at his dad, and both were extremely happy to come back with a car in one piece and a decent finish.

Photo courtesy of Mark Ammonds

Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen – DNF (Suspension)

Perry and Jack were competing together for only their second event of the year. They, like many others, struggled with dust on the opening stage and lost a bit of time, although despite this they still set fastest time. A clean run through Ceri saw them set another fastest time by 5 seconds. The next stage, Hopton, saw the charging pair set another fastest time by 8 seconds. However, over the flying finish they ran wide, clipped a bank and damaged the steering. Their day was unfortunately over whilst leading the event by 14 seconds.

Photo courtesy of Aneurin James

Liam Griffiths/Dan Petrie – DNF (Shaft)

Not quite the day they had planned! Steady away in the first stage getting back into the groove of being in the car together again but it went well. The pair thought they would have a push in their Presteigne Tyre Services backed Fiesta through Ceri but unfortunately snapped a shaft on the tight hairpin left right in the middle, which meant they had to crawl out to the end and decided to call it a day. Once back in service it was clear the shaft was stuck in the box and the service crew were unable to remove it.

Freddy Brick/Toby Brick – DNF (Clutch)

Although the car didn’t want to play ball with the clutch crying enough in SS3, the Brick Juniors had a great time whilst tootling along!

Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Media

Clive Price/Robbie Sandford – DNF

It would be fair to say a day of dramas for the BMW crew. Not a great start with the driver having problems on the road section to the first stage, putting them four minutes late to the stage. Intercom problems then hit leading to a couple of overshoots and a misheard note on a hairpin.

The car was running faultlessly until SS5 when the MAF pipe blew off at the start, which meant a tow out of the stage. Although they managed to fix the issue they were too late to restart the event, so drove back to the racecourse wittering a lot of choice words. However, they reported a great event, well organised and a good four stages of enjoyment.

Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Media

Richard Stewardson/Stu Jones – DNF (OTL)

The pair reported a good start to the day with the Peugeot 106 feeling good. Unfortunately, they hit a few problems in the afternoon which put them on the back foot a bit culminating in losing all power on SS8. A quick fix was managed but by the time they got going again they were OTL on the stage.

Photo courtesy of Black Mountain Media

Dave Brick/Emma Clark – DNF (Fuel Pump)

Great morning for the new pairing in their Vauxhall Nova with Dave stating that he would be ‘taking things steady’ on the start line of SS2 – as if! Big smiles for both over the finish line of Hopton, enjoying the stages and feeling more confident and the car was flying with no problems to report. Going into service they were leading the 1400s following the early engine troubles for Nigel and Kaz Jenkins.

The crew reported almost going out of service with the oil cap off but smoke in the car alerted them in time. Unfortunately, on the road section form service to SS5 the car came to a stop with fuel issues and being unable to get the car running again saw them out of the rally.

Photo courtesy of Rally & Motorsports Photography

Gary Smith/Clive Jones – DNF


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