Woodburn starts season with frustrating retirement

Tom Woodburn and Tom Walster's Suzuki Swift.
Tom Woodburn and Tom Walster's Suzuki Swift.

Co-driver Tom Woodburn’s first rally of the season came to an abrupt halt on Saturday when mechanical failure forced him and driver Tom Walster into retirement at the Wyedean Forest Stages in South Wales.

It was a frustrating early end to the day for the Morecambe Car Club member and his driver who had completed the event’s first special stage in impressive style with a time that put them 29th in a field of 160 cars in tricky conditions.

Their run of 3mins 42secs over the three and a quarter mile test also put the duo within two seconds of the lead of the 1400 class and poised to fight for the top positions.

Running through the 10.5 mile Speech House stage, a broken differential saw the car suffer from chronic understeer, preventing the crew from posting a representative time and forcing them into nursing their Suzuki Swift to the auxiliary service halt in the hope a repair could be made.

Despite the best efforts of the mechanic team, the problem was unable to be resolved and the pair were forced to call off their challenge.

Woodburn, 20, said: “The service guys did their best but the car just wouldn’t run straight when Tom came off the power meaning we wouldn’t have been able to push, so we had to call it a day.

“It was disappointing, Tom and I could have done with the mileage as it was the first time we had sat together in action, but it’s the nature of the sport.

“The stage we completed was a fairly quick but technical and with it being early in the day, it was quite foggy, meaning Tom really had to rely on my calls on the notes, and to be only two seconds off the class lead, was really encouraging.

“As we build our partnership, we are going to get faster.”

The next opportunity to develop their partnership comes on March 7 in the forests of Cumbria on the 40th running of the Malcolm Wilson Rally, with the young co-driver hopeful home advantage can get the crew’s championship challenge back on track.