HERO Challenge One threw up a fabulous result after a superb day’s rallying to herald start of the new HERO season. Three different cars and two novices made it to the podium after 130 miles of rallying.
A hugely popular win for a great duo, Nick Van Praag and Pieterjan Demulder (PJ) from Belgium who took top honours in a crowd pleasing Austin A35 with Paul Dyas second in a Volvo Amazon having recently converted from stage rallying to classic regularity rallying. This was the start of his new partnership with seasoned navigator Tony Brooks.
In third place overall and on her very first event was navigator Lynsey Procter, the wife of top navigator Ali Procter. She was navigating for Graeme Cornthwaite in his Morris Mini as many noted how well he threw the little car around on the tests.
For the first time, the experienced crews were in a separate Master’s class, still scoring points towards the Hero cup and Navigators award, the Golden Roamer, but were not included in the overall results.
2018 Champions in both the HERO Cup and the Golden Roamer, Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan carried on where they left off last year with the first win of 2019 in their Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7, taking top spot in the masters. Stephen Owens was second with Nick Bloxham navigating in their Porsche 356, Paul Crosby and Ali Procter were third in the masters in another 356, Ali emulating his wife Lynsey by securing a second podium of the day for the family.
The big story of the day was the success of the novices and ‘newbies’ who completed the course after a day of rally learning in their introductory rally of five regularities and four tests around the rolling Worcestershire hills. The tests were held in the beautiful setting of Chateau Impney, now as famous for its hillclimb event as for it’s architectural prowess.
All finished the course, even car 63 of Mark Illington who had become quite lost with navigator Lesley Sibley, as the MGB came home after course closing car had come home, but they finished their first event!
David and Sally Ward arrived back in the Ferrari 308 GT4 in 12th place overall, second in class after a difficult morning. The very happy but relieved couple were ecstatic after their first full rally, having attended the navigational courses at Race Retro run by HERO. Sally was particularly pleased to navigate the Ferrari home; “It was really difficult this morning, especially the second regularity but it just got better through the afternoon.” David added, “and the engine held together” after their aborted first attempt at a rally last summer.
Steve Blunt was equally happy to bring the big Valiant Charger home 28th overall and 6th in class. Novice navigator Jerry Pike, according to Steve did a “really great job, he really did well so we hope to do more events together in the future, we managed the fuel consumption too!”
Jon Harvey and Steven Brown on their first rally in their MGB had been through the navigational courses at Race Retro under the expert instruction of Seren and Elise Whyte. John and Steven collared Seren at the lunch halt at Chateau Impney saying they had a ‘bone to pick with Seren.’
Slightly taken aback, Seren enquired what the issue was? “We are just so pleased with your instruction, it was amazing, we are currently 22nd overall and third in class, both of us can’t thank you enough!” The fact that they slipped down the order later in the day didn’t matter, “we learned so much” added Steve. “ Now we are planning more events starting in September” said Jon.
John and Tracy King managed to get their Triumph Dolomite Sprint home in 43rd overall and 4th in class after some challenging moments with the navigation, especially the map reading for Tracy. “ But we improved and really started to learn more as the day progressed.” John though was worried by the car bottoming out, “It has even pushed out the right front wing, so we have to sort that out before the Three Legs of Mann in less than a week’s time”. From first navigational courses at Race Retro into Retro Tour then the Isle of Man right after the HERO Challenge, the newcomers are really embracing the sport.
Mike Tanswell finished a brilliant eighth in his Triumph Stag, navigated by his wife Helen who had recently celebrated a milestone birthday! Mike celebrated winning the class by drenching photographer Will Broadhead at one of two picturesque fords towards the end of the event. His daughter Elinor Tutcher finished a superb 11th overall navigated by Andy Ballantyne in her Dad’s Ford Escort Mexico.
As far as Dad Mike was concerned, although very happy with the family result, Elinor had blotted her copybook by denting his precious Mexico against a petrol pump earlier in the day. Was she forgiven? “No” said Mike rapidly.
There were great class wins for Chris Pearson and Rob Faulkner in their Volvo Amazon 122 in class 1, Alan Brindley and Alan Pettit took Class 3 in their MGB GT, 7th overall. Simon Henson did a particularly good job in the long E-Type Jaguar to take a class win with William Richardson navigating down the narrow lanes.
John and Matthew Vincent won class 5 in their Alfa Romeo GT Junior and Steven Hughes and Peter Fletcher won class 7 in the Peugeot 205.
Paul Dyas was really charged up after his second place and the new partnership with navigator Tony Brooks. Winner Nick Van Praag was literally speechless after his win but managed to thank PJ his novice navigator for doing an ‘incredible job.’
The last word has to go to first timer Lynsey Procter going from navigational tips via her husband Ali, into her first rally then straight onto the podium!
“I still can’t believe it, it’s amazing but Graeme’s driving was superb, especially on the tests!”