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A bumper entry of over 160 crews from across the UK will head to Ludlow next weekend to contest the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally (Saturday 3rd September). A host of competitors from the Ravenol BTRDA National Rally Series and Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship will converge in Shropshire for the event as it reaches its 33rd year.Woodpecker Anderson

Organised by Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club, the popular rally has always been a favourite with motor sport fans and competitors alike, with 2016 all set to be yet another success story for the organisers.  Starting from Ludlow Racecourse on Saturday morning, crews will head into the Shropshire and Powys forests for around 40 miles of loose surface competitive driving in the region.  But picking a winner from the high calibre entry list will be a tough ask for even the most experienced motorsport fan.

Last year’s event winner and MSA British Rally Championship regular Jamie Anderson will lead the field away as number one seed in his Ford Fiesta R5. Hoping to repeat his 2015 glory, Anderson will be co-driven by Ross Whittock as he returns to the event to defend his title.  Hot on his heels will be Welsh Championship and BTRDA frontrunners Luke Francis and John H Roberts in their Mitsubishi IX at number two.  Francis undoubtedly has the speed to take overall victory but will have his championship aspirations to contend with, an issue which does not affect Anderson.

Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson start at three in their unique 2-litre Ford Fiesta with last year’s number one seed Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson just behind at four in their similar Fiesta R5+. Local heroes Shaun Gardener and Ben Innes are at five in their aging yet ultra-competitive Mitsubishi E5. Ludlow based Gardener has enjoyed sporadic outings in 2016 but will always have one eye on repeating the duo’s 2006 & 2008 victories in the event.

At six, BTRDA returnee Callum Black will debut his new Ford Fiesta R5+ at the event. Making the jump from a front wheel drive Citroen DS3, the youngster is looking for seat time as he begins to settle in to his new four wheel drive machine.

Wayne Sisson and Neil Shanks will start at seventh seed in their Mitsubishi X with Paul Benn and Richard Cooke just behind in their stunning Ford Focus WRC02 at eight. Welsh championship contender Dylan Davies and Llion Williams are ninth in their Subaru Impreza with Steve Simpson and Patrick Walsh rounding off the top ten in their Fiesta S2000.

Woodpecker Luke Francis2Sponsored once again by Midlands based signage specialists Event Signs and supported by Hills Ford, the event also plays host to a raft of regional championships including the Jelf Motorsport 2WD Welsh Clubmans Rally Championship, FMP Motor Factors Rally Challenge, ASWMC Rally Championship and ANWCC Forest Rally Championship.  The rally also welcomes back the formidable Landrover Defender Challenge by Bowler Motorsport which always provides spectators with plenty of entertainment towards the rear of the field.

Event organisers have provided plenty of opportunity to catch the action both in the stages and at close quarters at the service area in Ludlow Racecourse.

The first competitors will leave the Racecourse start ramp at 8.30am on Saturday 3rd heading for the first spectator stage at around 9am at Haye Park just outside Ludlow which will utilise the popular hairpin as in previous years. A brief service back at the Racecourse will be followed by a blast through the Radnor Stage near Monaughty at around midday. Crews will return to Ludlow for another service halt before a final run through Haye Park at 2.40pm. The Racecourse will host the finish ceremony and prize giving later in the afternoon. Entry to the spectator stages is £10 per vehicle and includes a programme.

More information including an easy to use map of the spectator locations can be found at http://www.woodpecker-rally.co.uk

Images courtesy of Rally Sport Media.

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