The first of 64 cars entered on the season opening HERO Challenge left Vale Golf Club in Pershore at 8.30am Saturday morning in strong sunshine only to be buffeted by strong winds and soaked by rain squalls as they tackled the first three regularities.
This first HERO Challenge of the year is designed for novices and intermediate crews but with a separate Masters section for the experienced crews as they shake down their rally cars for the expert events ahead. Points for the HERO cup and he navigators prestigious Golden Roamer on the table whilst those new to classic rallying or just gathering experience can look forward to checking their own separate set or results later.
As the cars headed to the first couple of tests at the famous Chateau Impney, provisional results showed strong results novices and were on course for good finishes in the this their first ever classic rallies.
Amongst the novices are, John and Tracy King in their Triumph Dolomite Sprint. “The car is bottoming out a bit” as he pulled at his front right wing. “Tracy is doing really well but of course we are both learning, at one point we had to go around again but we got there”.
Jerry Pike in his first full rally navigating the experienced Steve Blunt in the Australian Valiant Charger has been severely tested as the Charger’s speedo is not working. “At one point we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we’re here now!”
Sally Ward navigating husband David in the Ferrari 308 GT4 said, “ The first regularity was fun but on the second there was confusion at the start, but we got the first halt so at least we went the right way.”
Sally was reminded of leading HERO Cup contender Paul Crosby’s advice before the event: “Many novices get too tied up with the timing, trying to hit the right point at a certain time, my advice is don’t worry about being late at this point, just concentrate on taking the right route, the timing will come later with experience.”
12 year old Harry Atkinson navigating for his Father in a venerable Land Rover declared; “It’s quite straight forward as far as the navigation is concerned but we had trouble with the Land Rover.” Dad, Marcus explained; “The Land Rover just lost power but we managed to get it going again. This is Harry’s first event, my wife works at Bicester Heritage and she has worked with HERO challenges at the venue before when Harry watched, so it is a natural progression for him start navigating.” Harry also went on to say ‘Dad tried to kill me in the Land Rover on test 1 and 2! He didn’t learn from the first test and got it on two wheels on the same cone on the second test!’
Ex Top Gear presenter and now Global Radio presenter Nick Berry is a last minute substitute for Andrew Scannell, navigating in Sean Bramhall’s Porsche 356, he seemed to be enjoying the experience so far.
“It seems straight forward although I’m not sure I got everything right, it requires lots of concentration so we’ll see!”
Elinor Tutcher is taking part, the eldest daughter of experienced rally driver Mike Tanswell, she was second to WRC rally star Kris Meeke in the Peugeot ‘Find a Rally Star’ scheme a few years ago. Her award was presented by rally legend Paddy Hopkirk, a recent visitor to the HERO stand at Race Retro. Elinor was happy with progress at the morning halt. ”That was good fun! It’s the best first section Ive ever done, probably because I have such a great navigator, how could you fail with Andy Ballantyne alongside you?”
Elinor’s father Mike Tanswell pulled in behind her in the Triumph Stag he is competing in at car number 15. “ Did she tell you that she had reversed into a fuel pump on a forecourt? No she didn’t tell you that, look at the dent in my rear bumper and boot, to his ” pointing to the slight damage ion his Ford Escort Mexico that he has lent to his daughter Elinor for the HERO Challenge One.
Darren Everitt seemed happy with his and navigator Susan Dixon’s work this morning in their Triumph 2000; “All is going very smoothly so far, it really is lovely.”
Front runner Stephen Owens in his Porsche 356 also seemed happy with his progress this morning. “It has been going really well, Nick Bloxham my navigator is doing a super job and we are looking forward to the Chateau Impney tests.” Stephen appeared back at the rest halt ten minutes later in a bit of a rush. “We think there is a page missing for our road book!” as Nick Bloxham ran inside to the control to check.
Paul Dyas in his freshly rebuilt Volvo Amazon for the season ahead has been joined by experienced navigator Tony Brooks for the first time. “We are just getting used to each other, I am just learning the tone of Tony’s voice but the more time together, the better it will get. The chemistry is there and the car is going really well at the moment!” Paul added,” I’m not sure but I think we may be in the top five” (at 1st rest halt).
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