After some sound basic training on navigation during Friday evening, followed by scrutineering at a distance on a selective basis today, Saturday, crews were ready to hit the rally road for the first time in six months.
With four none competitive regularities to sharpen team’s focus, two sandwiched before a lunch break which included a classroom session on timing, and two more road sessions afterwards, the contrasting Welsh and Shropshire roads were to prove a perfect test for learners. An in car video with Seren and Elise talking through navigation calls with digital time on screen, proved a perfect illustration of what how crews needed to navigate and keep on time all at once.
Throughout the day the mix of tight narrow roads leading to more open and sweeping tarmac kept driver and navigator alike on their toes. Some found the morning easier as they concentrated on staying on the right route whilst others found it more difficult this afternoon as the timing element was added.
However, at least fifty percent of the crews were wrong footed by a very small right turn almost immediately after a triangular junction had lead them over an old stone bridge. Cars were seen heading in numerous directions.
Roads lead out across high vistas such as along Caemor Wood into tight climbs up narrow lanes with complete covering under canopies of trees. The variety continued until the near the end of the fourth regularity at Lower Frankton where a very steep canal bridge gave the rally cars a stern test of their ride heights.
The crews tackling the transition from classroom to road today provided as much variety as the scenery. The Hardwick family were out in force with a full non competing support team. Mother Samantha standing down from navigational duties following her recent New Zealand Classic Rally success with driver and husband Stephen. Sam was enjoying the delights of the The Lion Quays Resort facilities with daughter and friends together with one year old grandson Teddy. Stephen was navigating for daughter Olivia who was driving the Volvo Amazon 123 GT, whilst son Henry was driving their Alfa Romeo Giulia GT navigated by his friend Tom Fair. A real family affair.
The complete clan gathered for a photo call before the start demonstrating just how inclusive and friendly HERO-ERA beginner events are.
Victoria Coward and her best friend Leonie Harter are on their first classic rally together in Victoria’s MGBGT, despite Victoria working in the rally world with Brantz, surprisingly this is her first opportunity. Christopher Wilks and David Creech arrived in the fabulous original ‘blue’ ex works 1933 Singer of Brooklands fame, the car was used to help develop the Le Mans version. Although they are experts they are here to brush up on their skills and give the Singer a run out, celebrating the fact that rallying is back.
Christopher Wilks; “ We actually only signed up for the rally tomorrow. We have done a few rallies before, the Flying Scotsman a couple of times and some Italian events but we have just invested in some new instrumentation so we thought let’s go back to basics and try the Novice Trial, then we thought we should know what we are doing..so we missed the classroom session, sorry about that!”
David Creech; “ It’s been a little while since we’ve actually been out on the road, all those things you think you remember all of a sudden you have forgotten! So it’s been very useful this afternoon getting our heads back into it and starting to get familiar with it all again.”
2018 HERO Cup Champion Paul Bloxidge is here in a VW Golf Gti, not to brush up on his skills but to help his grandson Oli into the sport as the 14 year old learns the navigational ropes from Grandad. Oli overslept this morning but fortunately he missed scrutineering and not the event start!
Stephen Young and Deborah Woollard are enjoying their mighty Datsun 240Z despite the odd wrong turn. Stephen; “Yes we are having a lot of fun, although we’ve done a couple before you still learn something every time. You get the tips in the classroom but it’s not the same as being out on the road.”
Deborah; “you can make a mistake and all that you have learned in the class room goes out of the window, you get the basics but you have to pick yourself up and carry on. We made a couple of mistakes today but just picked ourselves up and ended up doing really well.”
Paul Bartley and Jonathan Andrew’s Jaguar Mk 2 suffered a failed ride height check over the canal bridge, but never the less enjoyed their first day of their first event.
Paul is a racer who has taken up rallying as well! “ I’m still planning to do a bit of racing, hopefully the Goodwood Revival and maybe the Spa 6 Hours so I bought the Jaguar with the idea of making it a dual purpose car, I’ve always wanted to go rallying anyway! This is our first event, we have really enjoyed it so far and hope to do more, maybe Le Jog eventually, but after this afternoon’s performance we’ve got a lot of work to do! Everyone has been really friendly and helpful, that is a nice aspect of this sport.
“I’m going to have to have a word with my mechanic about the ride height of the Jaguar, we had a few dodgy moments with humpback bridges, they didn’t quite take the exhaust off but very nearly!”
Jonathan; “ The classroom is good but you can get baffled, once you are on the road however, and start to apply it, it begins to drop into place, you just have to persevere. In my private life I fly aerobatic planes, it’s not dissimilar in that it starts to get very baffling for a while, but you get on with it then it all starts to fall into place.
“The other cars you see out there are just great, you could spend half a day just looking at them.
“The people are really friendly and helpful, when we overheated this afternoon, crews stopped and helped us out and away we went again. But also the event has been superbly organised and very well run in terms of the safety precautions.”
Sunday is the final day of A Novice Trial but it brings with it the mini rally of four competitive regularities for the newbies and the experts to finally put all their practice into real action – against the clock!