Over the weekend of 26th and 27th May, the Tata Elxsi Defender Rally Series by Bowler competed at the 10th Anniversary Baja Lorca in Spain. The weekend proved to be highly eventful and introduced drivers and crew to many new challenges as they continue to develop with their Bowler Defender rally cars and gain valuable experience within the rally discipline. In an event that saw a very competitive field of over 45 FIA level rally cars, Bowler achieved a placing of 17th overall with their standard production car.
Pairings for the weekend consisted of Dave Beecroft and Fraser Parish, Syd Phillimore and Lee Caroline, John Cockburn and Ryan Mansfield. This event also saw the return of Frazer Williams from the 2022 Rally Series, who stood in for Dan Beecroft and paired with Barney Gillespie to remain in contention for overall championship honours.
The challenging terrain further impacted by overnight rain served up extremely slippery conditions, the crews were further tested by flash flooding midway through the final 80 km of stage 3. Multiple obstacles incurred over the 300km stages included low hanging olive trees and deep ruts which led to a number of broken windscreens and spin offs – fortunately not for the Bowler teams. Drivers were able to exploit the higher speeds and agility of the Defender which served teams with expected aplomb.
All drivers were thrilled with their performance. Fraser Parish commented; “I was really happy with our navigation performance during the long race, and how Dave Beecroft was becoming a more measured driver”. Both Dave Beecroft and Frazer Williams concurred “this rally bought a mix of everything we’ve experienced and more and after the high adrenaline of the day, the fatigue quickly set in! The physical and mental concentration required during this kind of rally hasn’t been experienced in the UK”. Although successfully completing 176km in the morning stages, a pit stop at 78km on stage 3 revealed a technical issue for Frazer and Barney which resulted in their retirement from the race.
The Automobile Club of Lorca who have been organising the Highlands Rally Lorca (translated) for 10 years, delivered another truly professional event bringing all key ingredients from excellent management, location of the service area, scrutineering and local town support. There was a clear passion for rally sport from all stakeholders in the event which served to enhance the experience for Bowler teams..
The event proved yet a further great success for Bowler teams and cars as they finished strong. The Bowler team were once again praised for delivering a great product and service which is starting to make waves and trigger curiosity within the rally raid community.
Dave Marsh, Head of Bowler Motorsport remarked; “This weekend has been a hugely successful third round in our European Tata Elxsi Defender Rally Series. Our main objective was to target professional rally events and experiences to facilitate driver development on a journey which will ultimately graduate teams to Desert Rallies. The Defenders continue to impress drivers with their durability and robustness which we continue to build on”.
Calum McKechnie, Head of Bowler remarked; “Congratulations to all our competitors and tech team, particularly Dave and Fraser for continuing to demonstrate passion and performance. Achieving 1st place along with 2nd against the T2 production class is significant and serves to demonstrate what we have achieved in the short amount of time since commencing the Tata Elxsi Defender Rally Series by Bowler.