Woodpecker Success for Jackson
Following a 7-week long summer break, last weekend saw the return of Warwick driver Matt Jackson to rally action alongside regular co-driver Claire Williams as the BTRDA and Thomas Panels 1400 Championship returned to Ludlow for the ever popular Woodpecker Stages.
Unfortunately for the rally duo, a broken driveshaft in the opening mile on the Nicky Grist Stages in July has plagued any remaining realistic championship hopes this year and as a result, they looked to the Woodpecker rally to finally put their mechanical gremlins to bed and to end their season on a high with a problem-free day. That, and with formidable competition present in the 1400 category in Ludlow, Jackson and Williams put little expectation on themselves to produce a giant killing performance and were clear that they would be content with a solid finish and to enjoy the competition. “There are some very fast guys out in very fast machinery on this rally so we plan to drive our own rally as the championship is virtually gone now. Of course we would like to take it to them but their power advantage makes that almost impossible on such a quick rally. It’s been a testing year so now we’re determined to enjoy it” explained Jackson.
However, the build-up to the event would be anything but problem-free and their participation in the rally was cast in doubt as a new set of replacement driveshafts arrived only hours before the team were due to set off for Ludlow. Determined not to withdraw their entry, no time was spared in putting the final pieces of the jigsaw together and complete their final preparations on the PowerMaxed support vehicle.
Understandably, it was a cautious start on the opening stages for Jackson and Williams due to a slight lack of confidence and the deluge weather made conditions tricky. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be long before they were faced with limited visibility caused by the windscreen misting up midway through Stage 2 which forced the pair to significantly reduce their pace. Much to their relief, they were able to improve their misting up issues ahead of the forthcoming world famous Radnor stage which allowed them to break onto the class podium following the demise of fellow Welshman James Williams. With weather conditions gradually improving throughout the day, Jackson and Williams’ confidence equally improved and they continued to produce a controlled drive which saw them leap from 3rd to 2nd position in the 1400cc category.
Still with the all-important finish in their sights and with a class win beyond their grasp, the pair looked to consolidate their runner up spot and despite a power steering failure on the final stage of the rally, they were able to narrowly fight off a last charge from their rivals sitting in 3rd place. While Jackson and Williams are unable to take the overall championship crown in the BTRDA Thomas Panels 1400 category, this remarkable result which is far in excess of the expectations they had ahead of the rally, sees the pair regain the top spot in Class 3 of the Pirelli Welsh Forestry Championship with one round remaining.