The Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Rally will move from its traditional Ludlow rally base to Newtown, Wales in 2024, in a radical shake-up of one of the UK’s most popular forest stage events.
The 7 September event, has been forced to relocate to the Powys market town, due to the unavailability of stages in the English Marches which the event has historically used for decades. Tests such as Haye Park and Hopton will not feature for 2024, as the rally shifts west, utilising a host of world-famous stages in the heart of Wales, such as Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Ceri.
First run in 1983, the rally will be supported for a third year by Presteigne Tyre Services and Phil Price Rally School and the Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club organised event had faced several complications in 2023 when attempting to put together the route that both fans and competitors have enjoyed for many years.
Thanks to the hard work of the event organising team, its popular Haye Park and Hopton stages, located in Shropshire were retained, but other stages, further away in mid-Wales were drafted in to ensure the event was able to run to its usual high standards.
However, for 2024, the England-based tests are not available for use, meaning its traditional rally base of Ludlow Racecourse is located too far away from the available stages, meaning a move to Newtown ensures the event can go ahead as planned.
The brand-new format will see cars leave Newtown on Saturday (7 September) morning and centre around the Hafren and Sweet Lamb forest plantations with a trip into Ceri Forest, complete with short closed-road sections to ensure longer stage mileage for competitors. Around 45 miles are planned, with the popular Sweet Lamb venue providing the event service area and a return to Newtown for the ceremonial finish.
Rally Manager Alan Corns is eager to unveil the new format of the rally and to reassure competitors that the event will have all the hallmarks of a traditional Woodpecker Rally.
“It’s been a tough few months behind the scenes for the organising team and the club faced some pretty big decisions” he explains.
“The English stages that we all know and love have been a staple of the Woodpecker Rally for decades so we had a choice to either run the event, or provide crews and fans with a high quality, fun, and exciting rally that has long been associated with the event. We are rally fans at heart so we decided to press on and look at alternatives, and we would like to thank the stakeholders in Wales and Newtown, as well as our supportive sponsors for allowing us to put together a rally that I believe we can all enjoy.
“We haven’t given up on the stages surrounding Ludlow, but for this year we are where we are and of course, we will be working hard towards 2025 in the meantime.
The event was renamed in 2022 in memory of the highly regarded rally driver and coach Phil Price, who sadly passed away in 2021 and will once again welcome a variety of top-line championships, including the Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship, the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series, Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship, Reis Motorsport Insurance UK English Rally Championship, TCS Plant Rally Challenge, ANWCC Forest Stage Rally Championship and HRCR West Wales rally Spares Stage Masters Rally Challenge. More information on the event will be released in due course