The second round of the HERO Challenge Championship has attracted the biggest entry of the year so far with 83 vintage and classic rally cars, amongst them championship protagonists and aspiring road rally stars of the future, set to challenge the establishment against the inspiring backdrop of the Peak District.
This is a blue intermediate category event aimed at beginners and graduates keen to learn more with a Master’s Class for previous winners. Masters qualify through previous wins, finishing in the top three of green and black events or gold medal winners on Le Jog for example. Whether they are chasing class wins or the overall podiums, all the categories are bound to be competitive.
HERO Challenge One will take crews on a 145 mile route including ten tests and eight regularities, all based out the CASA Hotel in Chesterfield owned and run by former rally star Steve Perez.
George Mullins, HC1 Clerk of the Course commented;
“The crews are in for a treat, the roads around the peak district are stunning, the views are mind blowing and the hospitality at the start and finish venue are second to none. We have lined up ten fast flowing tests to keep the drivers on their toe’s and for the navigators, the eight regularities will keep them honest.
Government regulations prevent us having a traditional prize giving ceremony, but we will be adhering to all protocols as usual. We have also had a late change of lunch, and this will now be in the Nott Inn in Rushton Spencer, where I think there will be a great atmosphere at this location for everyone to enjoy.
So, who will be taking home the silverware on Sunday evening? Who ever it is, they will have had to work as a team and both driver and navigator will have earned their corn”
Early success on the rally may not be necessarily be carried through the day for the event progresses it will intensify as it progresses, which could catch some crews out. The ramp up usually equates to a rise in the temperatures at the top, especially for those entered into the trilogy of HERO Challenges that form the HERO Challenge Cup for drivers and navigators.
Currently leading both the drivers and navigators points respectively are Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane, who won the established Summer Trial against tough opposition and then scored a double top with victory on HERO Challenge Two. Clamped to their exhaust pipes are Novice Trial winners and runners up in HERO Challenge Two, Alastair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite, just four points behind the leaders and aiming to take their SAAB 900’s nose past the BMW 323i to the top of the table in the Peak District.
A stand out performance for a vintage car and spirited driver, currently in third place, is John Lomas. He has piloted his 1936 Riley Sprite past many modern machines with the expert guidance of navigator Pete Johnson. The pair are loving taking it to the younger vehicles and crews and are now preparing their strategy for their climb up the leaderboard in the peaks of Derbyshire.
Another crew on the upward path are father and son duo Dick and Harry Baines in their Mini Cooper S after a mixed start in The Novice Trial a few months ago. Since then the crew of relative beginners have made amazing progress with a fifth place on HC2 which has put Dick into sixth in the drivers and Harry fifth in the navigators HERO Challenge Cup.
The fulsome entry list contains a real eclectic mix of teams and cars heading for the Derbyshire hills.
Masters winners on the HERO Challenge Two, Susan Dixon and Darren Everitt return in their rorty Triumph 2000 looking to repeat their class win, whilst 2019 Summer Trial winners Steve and Thomas Robertson rekindle their father and son partnership, this time in their Triumph TR3 to see if they can repeat their success achieved in the Peak District.
Making the trip back from Spain will be Anita Wickins and Malcolm Dunderdale. But just as they will surely find time to change their clothes before Sunday, they will rapidly change cars from their Cosworth powered Mercedes to their sure footed Renault 8 Gordini which will be wearing French racing blue for it’s Peak district outing.
Michael Moss and James Ewing will also be rushing back and changing outfits, this time from Turin to Wolfsburg as they leave their Fiat 2300 and take to the svelte VW Golf GTi awaiting their UK arrival.
A car which would have been well suited to climbing the hills of Northern Spain and Portugal in the Classic Marathon is the Ford Mustang which starts number 30. Paul and Gwyneth Steddy return to HERO-ERA action as do Mike and Clara Pedley in their Ford Escort RS2000, a car which may be a tad better suited to the narrow Derbyshire lanes than its bigger blue oval cousin the Mustang.
Agility of car and mind will score well in this rally. There is none more imbued with agility than a 1974 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, neither is there a better noise, but Sally Ward won’t be listening as she concentrates on her navigation which has improved with each event. Husband and driver David will be looking forward to pushing the red car on the tests and no doubt turning spectators heads along the route.
Curtis Jacoby and Graham Tuer will have their work cut out over the climbing and twisty Derbyshire Peak district roads, especially if there are tight hairpins ready to challenge their long 1982 Jaguar XJS HE, but they will be up for the challenge, aiming to go one better than HERO Challenge Two and this time win the class.
Harry and Lorraine Sherrard make a welcome return after their Telford podium in the 1983 Audi Quattro Sport and will be looking to acclimatise as soon as possible just as Tom and Gill Doran did in their Audi 80 Sport two weeks ago on the HERO Challenge Two. The two Audis will no doubt do battle in their class.
Another podium sitting crew at that same Telford based Novice Trail in 2019, were Peter and Louise Myles, then they were in a SAAB, now they are Porsche powered as Peter recently swapped the Swede for a beautiful 911 that they successfully debuted in the Yorkshire Wolds a couple of weeks ago, so they are tuned in ready for Derbyshire!
Scrutineering is on Saturday 17th July and the first car leaves the start line on Sunday morning at 8.30 am for what is expected to be a great day’s motor sport.