Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite were the relieved winners of the HERO Challenge Two after finally getting the monkeys off their respective backs to climb to the top of the podium in their SAAB 900 Turbo. Despite winning the 2021 HERO Challenge Championship through a string of podiums, including many second places, the HERO-ERA win has eluded them – until now!
With the win, Matt retains and strengthens his lead of the Navigators category of the HERO Challenge Championship whilst Alistair moves into the lead of the Drivers HERO Challenge Championship.
Pushing them all the way were Anita Wickens and Malcolm Dunderdale in their Mercedes 190 16V finishing just ten seconds apart after 10 tests and seven regularities including a monster 25 mile regularity in a ‘full on’ day of competition. Anita and Malcolm had been as close as four seconds at one point, although Malcolm was convinced at the end of the event that he had messed up some tests so badly they had dropped right down the order, both were in fits of laughter as they told the tale, such was their enjoyment of the day.
Peter Joy was in fine form in his 1959 Lotus Elite taking the final podium position from Paul and Sandra Heaney’s Triumph TR6 in the final tests. Peter was delighted, not just with the performance of the car, but with that of navigator Matt Fowle who is still struggling to walk properly after a massive leg operation following a skiing accident five months ago. Matt’s performance was gritty, especially as he still has to walk with a stick, easing himself into the cramped confines of the ACBC Elite where space is at a premium to say the least, as he worked the books, maps and speed tables across the 180 mile route!
The HERO Challenge Two was headed up and conceived by the Competition Department Event Manager Seren Whyte, who was Clerk of the Course. Not only were the tests and regularities of a high challenging standard befitting of the series, but the route was a mixture of superb generally traffic free roads, remote in parts, which is difficult to achieve across parts of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire with their density of populations.
The journey was also a visual history of the regions, if the navigators had had time to lift their heads to see it, as the rally journeyed from the venue for the first ever World Championship Grand Prix in 1950 at Silverstone, to a town that features in ‘The Pickwick Papers’ or a village that was entered into the Doomsday Book in 1086! Old stone slabs and Priories flashed past reminding crews that they were deep in real old England, it certainly impressed the rallie’s Dutch and Belgian colleagues who were taking part.
Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite, SAAB 900 Turbo
“It’s been a great day. We’ve had a really fun days rallying and Malcolm and Anita have pushed us all the way today, we really had to take the pressure right up to the last set of tests, we thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been a great 18 months, but now we are relieved to get our first win! We’re really pleased. There have been occasions, when we have not quite managed it, so to finally do it is great!
Matt;. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. I think it will as I drive home in a shirt soaked in Champagne! I’d say we feel like we’re the winners now, having won one rather than always being second.”
Alistair; “We are really chuffed to be leading the drivers and navigator’s HERO Challenge Championships, especially with the five door shopping car. We were competing against some pretty serious sports cars, so we are really pleased with that, but it doesn’t happen without the man sat next to me, Matt has been great.”
Anita Wickens and Malcolm Dunderdale, Mercedes 190 16 V
Malcolm: “Yeah, it was brilliant fun. Things may have gone wrong on the last test, I know on the first set of tests, as usual, I ran out of talent. We had a spin on the tarmac bit, and then out of one of the gravelly bits, I hit the brakes, but the car didn’t respond. We just slid straight through. So, so we got a few penalties on there. But other than that, the second tests were good.
“We wanted to give Alistair and Matt a chance to win, we never want to win! We’re going to stop and have a cup of tea. We do have fun and Anita as always can laugh about it, but it did go quiet in the car, just for a minute, then it was gales of laughter, back to normal!”
We are chuffed. I mean, second place is becoming ours now. So one day we’ll get first, but we enjoyed this.”
Peter Joy and Matt Fowle, (1958) Lotus Elite
Peter; We haven’t done much to the car since we last saw you, just a bit of routine maintenance from the events, but it went well today and soaked up the punishment. We are very happy with the podium!”
Matt; It’s been five months now since the accident and I’m still hobbling a bit. It was a big one, but I’ll go a bit without the stick and it’s OK then back to a hobble. There is lots of titanium and 18 screws holding the leg together.
“The leg doesn’t really give me too much pain nowadays. But I was still hoping that the tests were nice and smooth, and I didn’t get shaken about too much, it was OK, but third place was brilliant, we are very happy.”
John and Tracy King, 6th overall and Test Pilot Award, for fastest overall on the tests
“We’ve knocked on the door really. We started with a fastest overall in an HRCR event recently which is with the quick guys, then second on Summer Trial, so we are really pleased – this is the one I wanted to win.”
“We had no clutch at the beginning of the last full test, but we did what we did last year. We managed to put some fluid in and get the clutch back, that was a relief.”
Natasha and John Lomas, 1st in pre 1955 car class.1936 Riley Sprite
Natasha (13) “It was really good, it was a bit hot then it rained, the weather was a bit on and off but I think we were happy overall. We had a few slip ups but we can work on it!
John; “Now I’m going to bring Natasha on as much as we can. We’ll get a trial in next year and once GCSEs, are out of the way, it might be the Flying Scotsman, but I’m gonna have to raise my performance.”
John Grant ( Chairman BRDC) and Charles Elwell, Arrive and Drive Fiat 124 Spider
“I’m facing a retirement from the BRDC in a couple of months time, and my wife keeps saying what am I going to do when I grow up? And so I thought it was time to try something a bit different. So here we are. A bit of endurance rallying maybe later but so far in the HERO Challenge it’s immensely enjoyable.
“I think it’s the end of racing for me. I’ve had a great time doing some circuit racing and drove some lovely cars in some lovely series at great circuits. Unless you can do it regularly, I’ve concluded there’s not much point in having the odd one off event. And you know, time catches up eventually. It was time for something different.”
John was asked how he saw Bicester Heritage where HERO-ERA and Motorsport UK are situated, with the governing body next door, compared to Silverstone now, did he see this as the historic version?
“I think they are very complimentary. Absolutely. We see BH as a great home for motorsport UK and HERO-ERA because there’s so much going on around here. I think historic motorsport is in good shape, clearly all aspects of it are very strong and growing and will continue to grow, I’m sure that what the BRDC is doing goes very well at Silverstone. But they’re very complementary. And we’ve seen lots of opportunities to work together to see what each of us can get out of it, what each of us can do for the other really.
“My A+D car has been a very nice fit, the 124 Spider, which has been made available to me courtesy of Hero. I have paid, I have to emphasise, but yes, it’s a lovely car and in true Italian style the gearlever has fallen off. Other than that, it goes very well. It was very good round the cones, great fun. I’m enjoying it immensely. But it’s actually part of historic motorsport isn’t it – things fall off!”
Ernst and Sonja Luthi, A+D MGB, Rally Newcomer Award. (travelled from Australia to compete)
The Australian couple were originally going to compete in the HERO Challenge Two in their TVR until mechanics backed it into high kerbs and did a lot of damage to the rear and exhausts. They nearly pulled the plug until a call to Mark O’Donnell, Arrive Drive Manager at HERO-ERA.
Ernst; “I called the office because we wanted to do events before, like we wanted to the Novice Trial in 2020 but couldn’t because Melbourne closed it’s doors.
“So we actually we dropped in from Australia, we’ve been here and dropped in a week ago to see if a car could be ready so obviously we’re keen. I called the office and said can I do it in the rental car? Then I spoke to Mark, we were talking about a variety of cars in the fleet then the MGB came up and I’ve got a brilliant fix. We’ve got an MGB in Australia, so that’s how we arrived at the solution. Now we are HERO-ERA Arrive and Drive fans! Award winners as well, novice driver, we’ve got trophies and awards, we will be back.”