Seventy-three Starters lined up at a blustery Land’s End for Le Jog: the Land’s End to John O’Groats Classic Reliability Trial and Tour.
Most of Europe was represented in the entrants, with 18 crews having a German influence, and a similar diversity was reflected in the cars, from a 1938 BMW 327/28 Sports Coupé via Volvo Amazons, TRs and even a Trabant to a 1985 Land Rover 90 SWB.
Heading north out of Cornwall, Le Jog – now in its 20th running – visited many of the locations from the inaugural 1993 event. A secret check on an early transport section between main controls caught many of the unwary, attention to detail as well as endurance being the two key elements of the event. Following the evening break at Gordano Services the route took competitors up through the famous road rallying areas in southern and mid-Wales before a final time control section between Corwen and Ruthin.
Traditionally Sunday is a quieter day for Le Jog, though the run out to the first regularity was broken by two tests before a long regularity over the Trough of Bowland in Lancashire. The crews then headed through North Yorkshire and into Weardale, where a large crowd of spectators waited for the competitors at the (relatively low) Stanhope Ford. A short hop over Alston and Nenthead brought a welcome full night’s sleep in Carlisle before the final push to John O’Groats.
A civic send-off by Carlisle Mayor Steven Bowditch welcomed Le Joggers to Monday, the organisers directing crews up the A74(M) for a while to allow more of the event to be run in the Highlands in daylight. However, the first regularity of the day soon had past gold medallists Andy Lane and iain Tullie wincing, when an excursion into a ditch cost them time.
Crews reached Kyle of Lochalsh as the weather turned, with up to eight inches of snow making for an interesting night over the Pass of the Cattle, Kyle of Tongue and the final section through Castle Mey before arrival at John O’Groats. There, many crews shed a tear of pride following their huge accomplishment at finishing what is now regarded as ‘Europe’s toughest classic rally’.
There are no overall awards on the event. Le Jog recognises the achievements of those who have visited a high percentage of all the controls and have performed consistently well throughout. Of those 73 starters, only three crews achieved this status: Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Leigh Powley in a 1970 Porsche 911, Mark Godfrey and Martyn Taylor in a 1965 MGB, and the ultracompetitive Karsten Weber and Thomas Körner in a 1976 BMW 320/4.
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases