Deputy Clerk of the Course Nick Reeves has been leading the design and working on the route of the 2021 LeJog Reliability Trial with HERO-ERA Competition Director and Clerk of the Course Guy Woodcock since 2019.
After a long gestation period, Nick hopes the 2021 LeJog will live up to its fearsome reputation.
Nick Reeves; “We have everything in store for the competitors, we have some simple sections, some tricky ones, we have got a load of tests then there is the variable with the weather. At the moment it is pouring down outside, who knows what we are going to find?
“We are going up across the Brecon Beacons, it will probably be foggy up there, it really is going to be a big challenge which hopefully lives up to the reputation of the event.”
LeJog is also very different to the other HERO-ERA events in that there are no clear cut winners but rather a medal system as Nick Reeves explains: “ LeJog is quite unique in as much as we don’t actually have a winner on the event. At the prize giving in Wick we will hopefully be giving out a few gold medals but to achieve that they have to visit all the controls on time, then there are the silvers and bronze medals based on similar bit not as exacting criteria as the top echelon. In fact things can change quite dramatically, you can be in the silver medal position and a guy in gold makes a mistake and you get bumped up, and he drops down a grade. This is what makes the event really unique.
“To finish LeJog at all is a great achievement. It’s a long way, I’ve driven it in a modern car and it’s quite a challenge trust me. In weather like this in a 1960’s classic car with a poor ventilation system it is really going to crank up the pressure.
“Bearing in mind we had to cancel last year’s event, I’ve been working on this edition of LeJog since the beginning of 2019. We worked on it then put it away then worked on it again with various routes based on what you could and couldn’t do in the run up to the 2020 event. I am very familiar with it all to be honest, we have certainly found some very tight and twisty back of beyond places!
“The final sting in the tail is the departure from Newcastle with the teams running over night, with appropriate regulation breaks, taking them on the route to the finish at John O’ Groats early the following morning. Safety is a priority, we encourage crews to share the driving.
“But we do hope we have a real sting in the tail for them, it is still a proper full on event and I don’t think we would be doing the event justice if we didn’t have some tough sections. Everyone is going to have to be on it from the start to the finish basically! That includes us the organising team.
“Don’t forget we have an army of marshals and officials who come from all over the country working on this event. They will be stood out in the cold and wet at 2.00 am, usually with a smile on their faces as well!
“Add to that the possibility of snow or sleet in Scotland and you can understand the challenge of LeJog.
“A great entry too, especially our international friends from all round Europe. Credit to them, they have been very resourceful in dealing with the last minute changing COVID regulations, it shows the spirit of the individuals concerned to get over the hurdles to be involved in this event .”
Determination is part of the LeJog game as well as endurance, and two characters known for their perseverance are back to try and make amends. Paul Carter’s car failed to go the distance so he is back with his BMW 2002 with Matthew Abrey navigating for him. Bill Cleyndert also sadly failed after a valiant effort in his vintage Ford, he is back again too, although in a rather more comfortable car.
Paul; “Yes we both ended up in Chester two years ago and the wheels weren’t going round on either car, it was very sad morning. But I am back for more, I think this may be my 12th or 13th LeJog but I don’t want to count!”
Bill; “The Austin 1800 ‘Landcrab’ comes out for the third time on LeJog, it’s a good car to do it in, it’s nice and comfortable, it is an endurance event after all, plus I have a new navigator. Stuart Anderson has kindly lent me Emily, his daughter to navigate. She has been doing really well recently and won a gold medal on LeJog two years ago, so I am really looking forward to working with her.”
The only vintage car on the Reliability Trial this year is the 1949 Bentley Mk 6 Special of Chris Townsend. Two years ago he eventually found his way to John O’ Groats but took a different path to many others. Chris; “I have the experienced Richard Lambley navigating this year so we hope to make amends and be more competitive this time round!”
The ever present German crew of Klaus Mueller and Eric Schwab are also back for more but they are awaiting a consignment of new rear wheel bearings for their Lancia Fulvia before they can even think about starting the 2021 LeJog. Klaus; “Everything was fine and new in the workshops in Holland but when we arrived in the UK the rear bearings failed, a bad production run we think.! We are ready to fit them as soon as the package arrives – hopefully tonight!”