TOM Woodburn had a dramatic escape after walking away from an horrific high speed accident on the Somerset Stages Rally last weekend as he and driver Tom Walster crashed out of the event on the final stage.

The pair who had retired from the previous two rounds of the Kick Start 1400 Rally Championship, were attempting to close down a nine second gap to second place over the Bats Castle test and get their title challenge back on track.

But the attempt ended in disaster when the Suzuki Swift ran wide at speed, falling off the road and hitting a tree stump. The impact ripped out the car’s sump guard before it rolled down the embankment, before bursting in to flames.

Both Woodburn, who is originally from Swarthmoor, and Walster were assisted from the wrecked vehicle by spectators and event safety teams before being airlifted to hospital for check-ups.

While Walster suffered a broken pelvis, Woodburn, while in a great deal of pain, emerged with only bruising, with the car’s safety devices doing their jobs and protecting the crew.

"Tom and I owe a lot of people thanks for helping us out, not least of all our service team who built such a strong car that kept us from a worse outcome,” said Woodburn.

“We’d had a good event and with a strong second place within reach, we were pushing hard when the accident happened.

“The event safety team were first class, and the spectators who helped us get out of the car straight after the crash as it was catching fire, I’m particularly grateful too.”