After the success of A Novice Trial and Challenge 2 rallies, the third event in HERO’s revised 2020 calendar, The Summer Trial, will surely add some charm to what has so far been a wonderfully received return to historic regularity rallying. Three will indeed be the magic number, with this being the first multi-day event of the season, contested across three days, a ménage a trois of classic rallying fun in the stunning scenery of Shropshire.
Three will of course not be a crowd, as HERO will continue to conform to protocol, and stick to the already high standards it has set in ensuring that its events are COVID safe, although as we have seen so far this will not lessen the fun for all of those involved. It is virtuous indeed that, despite an increase in restrictions, we are still able to compete and continue to use our classic machines as intended; stretching their legs on the wonderful lanes and backroads of England close to the Welsh border. Of the restrictions and HERO’s first multi-day event, Competition Director and Clerk of the Course Guy Woodcock had this to say, “It will be a different challenge operating a multiday event, but on our other two events this year our competitors, marshals and HERO staff have all done a great job embracing the new way in which we have to operate to be safe and legal in these testing times. It is fantastic that Motorsport UK have said we are still able to go ahead and that our sport can continue, and I’m sure that everyone involved will do a fabulous job at delivering a safe but very much enjoyable weekend of motorsport on the Summer Trial.”
This years Summer Trial, has a new home as well as a new date in the calendar. After two years of exploring everything the Peak District has to offer, this edition will make its base in Telford in the ceremonial county of Shropshire, famed for its wonderful rolling topography and offering a gateway to the more mountainous terrain close to the border in Wales. Just as HERO’s previous outings this year have been aimed steadfastly at the beginner, so is the Summer Trial, a stepping stone from the single day competitions into the tougher, multi-day offerings such as Rally of the Tests and LeJog. Don’t be fooled into believing that it will be any less engaging for its diminished difficulty however, and expect to see a number of familiar names on the entry sheet looking to shake down and test machinery that has lain largely dormant this year, before the bigger challenges to come as the calendar of events marches towards its Christmas time crescendo, with LeJog.
400 miles, or thereabouts, will be waiting for those who have entered in a week’s time. Spread across three days, there will be a Friday afternoon prologue to ease everyone in. No doubt many navigators will be rusty, and the reading of Tulips may not be as second nature as it might have been, had this season been uninterrupted. As the weekend progresses, so will the difficulty, with a full day in the saddle scheduled for Saturday 26th, and a shorter day on Sunday so that all can return home safely ready for the return to normality on the Monday morning – whatever that might be in these strange times.
Indeed, with such uncertainty surrounding the world, I daresay it will come as some relief to be within the rally bubble, for a few days at least. There are certainly plenty of eager entrants, and whilst some, as mentioned, may not be quite match fit, some within the field will have been out on one, or perhaps both, of HERO’s previous two sojourns this year. Mike Farrell is one of these, after competing in A Novice Trial and then Challenge 2 in his beautiful Jaguar SS, he has surely caught the rally bug. Another such pair are Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickens, after debuting in last years Three Legs of Man, they won their class last time out on HERO Challenge 2 and will once again be pedalling their popular Renault 8 Gordini, no doubt with high hopes of a good result. Of the upcoming rally and his car, Malcolm had this to say, “It will be a good experience, we still haven’t been doing this very long. The Gordini is a great car, we have another one now just as a donor car for spares as they’re hard to come by, but it’s nice to have something a little bit different and with a bit of heritage attached to it. It’s also important to keep these more unusual cars going and being used as they were designed.”
This is of course is exactly the point of these easier events, to bring historic rallying to a wider audience and encourage those with a passing interest in the sport to give it a go and, some might say more importantly, to do something more with their classic car than simply polishing it! One pair who have followed HERO’s pre-planned route from debutants to consistent entrants are the Triumph Dolomite Sprint wielding duo of John and Tracy King. They first took to the Tulips at last years Retro Classic event, and have been regular entrants ever since, an example if ever there was one of how to embrace classic rallying as newbies and no doubt itching to build on their impressive performance last time out on the HERO Challenge 2, where they walked away with third in class. “The Dolly was fantastic on Challenge Two” says John, “We now look forward to the Summer Trial, and hopefully we can have a good event. This is not an easy sport, but like all things it rewards you for the effort you put in and you can see from the people that have been doing this for ten years or more that the challenge remains sufficient to keep coming back.”
Of course, whilst the event is definitely aimed at novices, there will be an element of experience injected into proceedings, and a brief scan of the entry will reveal some familiar names. The pairing of Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan jumps out straight away, the 2018 HERO Cup and Roamer winners no doubt itching to get back to competing together, especially after last seasons campaign in the new to them Golf GTI was cut short, due to a lengthy lay off for Ian as he recovered from knee surgery. “It’s my first HERO event since May 2019, and first rally with Paul also” said Ian, “I’m looking forward to seeing the HERO crowd again – it’s almost like a hug! Well, as close to a hug as we will get at the minute! I can’t wait to get back into the car with Paul as well. Of course, now I will have to remember what to do, and do it better than Oli, Paul’s grandson [who has recently been competing with Paul]. I’m hoping we can get to the end of this awful pandemic soon, 2021 will be a busy year for me if COVID allows, plenty of events and I’m the route planner for HERO Challenge Two in June, bringing some great new test venues and a new territory!” The eagle eyed may also spot Peter Nedin’s name on the list, with daughter Clare in the maps seat. Peter of course has a long association with HERO and was last year presented with a special achievement award for his 10 LeJog’s as Clerk of the Course. This time he will be at the controls of the car, rather than the event and with his years of experience will no doubt be a threat to the timesheets, as well as being a valuable point of reference for those with less miles under their belts.
Whomever and whatever the entry though, the over riding themes of the rally will likely be, as always, that of friendliness, good natured competition and of a sport that allows classic car enthusiasts to pursue their passion for the automobile on wonderful roads. Roads that they perhaps may never have seen had it not been for the diligent work of the HERO route planners, who will no doubt have left no stone unturned in the pursuit of delivering another rally spectacular, which will be all the more vital in these difficlut times. Covid may still be grabbing the headlines, but classic regularity rallying is very much go, and the organisation cannot wait to see everyone at the start, and finish lines a safely as possible.
Photos by Blue Passion Photo