Motorsport News



Henri Grehan was the toast of Ludlow on Saturday when he took his first British Historic Rally Championsh­ip victory on his home event, the Woodpecker Rally.

Over fast, dry and dusty stages in Haye Park and Radnor, Grehan and Dan Petrie fought a titanic battle with the Fiat 131 of Matt Edwards and Hamish Campbell. For the best result of his rallying career so far, scoring his first BHRC win in his own backyard was an incredible achievemen­t for Grehan.

Grehan said: “[It was] a great day. I knew what I was up against and there’s so many good drivers here. So I knew there was a lot to do. There’s going to be a big party tonight!”

With so many quick local drivers and a massive following for the event, the Woodpecker is the biggest motorsport event of the season in the Ludlow area and it was the one rally, more than any other, that

Grehan wanted to win.

With the Shropshire and Welsh border stages having baked in sunshine for weeks on end, the going was hard and dusty as the crews headed out for the first run through the mighty Haye Park stage. Unused since 2019, the twisting and dipping roller coaster stage set the tone for the day and preceded two fast stages in Radnor Forest just across the Welsh border. After service back at Ludlow racecourse crews tackled a repeat loop of stages on this slickly organised rally.

Edwards, back in competitio­n for the first time since his accident in Donegal in June, knew that the long fast sections in Radnor would be tough for the Fiat against the Escorts and attacked from the start. A four-second lead over Grehan was his early reward but, by the time they emerged from the second Radnor stage, Grehan was two seconds up.

Over the next 14 stage miles Edwards clawed those two seconds back to make it all square heading into the final stage, which finished across the open moorland of Stanlo Tump. Sadly, the battle was taken out of his hands when the Fiat suffered a rear suspension failure and Edwards had to park it up, with nothing to show for a gritty performanc­e.

It was an emotional result for the Grehan team. Henri had been just five years old when his father John won the Woodpecker 30 years ago , sitting alongside Richard Gough in his ex-Ari Vatanen Ford Escort Mk2, and Gough Sr was back out on the event this year in the glorious Rothmans-liveried car.

It was Gough’s son Robert, partnered by Sam Collis, who moved into second place when Edwards stopped in the final stage to make it a Ludlow hometown 1-2 and the Shropshire flag flew proudly on Grehan’s car as the champagne sprayed at the finish.

Catching dust and a throttle problem in Radnor cost Gough a little time in the morning stages but a better second loop concluded with fastest time on the final sage to end the rally half a minute adrift of Grehan but nearly half a minute clear of Nick Elliott and Dave Price in the other Fiat 131.

Elliott knew that this would be a tough event for the Fiats, commenting that the 131 just lacked the last little bit of power to match the Escorts. That was particular­ly notably on the long fast straights of Radnor, which included more than a kilometre flat in top. Grehan saw 113mph as he kept it nailed.

Ben Friend and Cliff Simmons bagged fourth in their Escort Mk2 despite burning through rear tyres at a prodigious rate and had only 10s in hand over the similar car of Will Onions and Dave Williams. Onions reckoned things got better when he woke up at lunchtime after turning a 14s deficit to

Rudi Lancaster and Guy

Weaver into a two-second lead in the second loop.

Simon Webster and Alun Cook bagged seventh and Webster was just delighted to finish a rally after a run of problems, while Seb Perez and Gary McElhinney were five seconds back after being one of as many as eight crews to roll over the flying finish of stage three.

It was a feat once achieved by Seb’s father Steve in a

Ford Focus WRC. “He never warned me,” joked Perez Jr.

In turn, Richard Jordan and James Grattan-Smith were only two seconds down on Perez.

The result puts Grehan further into the lead of the championsh­ip with two events to run and Edwards is now up against it, having had two no-scores from four rallies. If Grehan can score well in both Yorkshire and Kielder he could add the BHRC title to what has already been a memorable season at this level. But for a Ludlow driver, there’s little that will match winning the Ludlow Grand Prix…

 ?? ?? Grehan was thrilled with Woodpecker win
Grehan was thrilled with Woodpecker win
 ?? ?? Rear suspension thwarted Edwards
Rear suspension thwarted Edwards
 ?? ?? Robert Gough flew the flag for Shropshire as well...
Robert Gough flew the flag for Shropshire as well...

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