“I am over the moon, I just can’t say any more at the moment, we are so pleased!” Matt Outhwaite said after shaking the champagne at Petersfield Golf Club, following a three way title battle to become HERO Challenge Championship winning navigator after 8 tests and 7 exacting regularities around West Sussex.
His driver Alastair Leckie has doubled the drivers title too after the pair had to swap cars before the event and fight back from a lowly position this morning. Alastair; “ This morning we went from second last at the first halt but then we hauled ourselves back up to finish 14th out of 91 starters. Matt was brilliant this afternoon. We are thrilled to take the HERO Challenge Championship for a second time.”
Alistair and Matt were forced to change cars for the championship shoot out after there were problems with their usual SAAB.
Alistair; “We were fortunate enough to win the last HERO Challenge event but the Saab sacrificed it’s bottom end to do that. So bearing in mind, we’re out on LeJog at the start December, we’ve had to put it in for the engine rebuild to get that done to be sure we’re getting the SAAB ready for the big one. John Lomas has been kind enough to let us drive his MG TC today so we could come out and compete. So we won the Vintage class and secured 10 points towards both titles thanks to John and Blue Diamond, we are very grateful.”
Pushing them all the way in the championship with a tremendous overall win were Tim and Mel Green, taking their first big win with HERO-ERA in their 1967 1275 Austin Mini. By winning the final HERO Challenge of the year, Mel finished runner up in the navigator’s championship and Tim was second in the drivers championship. Team Green also won two further awards, Mel won Best Performance on Regularities and therefore takes the Clockwatchers Award whilst Tim was fastest driver overall on the tests taking the Test Pilot Award – some haul for the Greens after such a battle across the West Sussex countryside.
Mel; “We are really pleased, we are so lucky that it has worked out for us this time, we have been so close so many times. We work well together as a team and it paid off this time.”
Tim “The best thing about today was having Mel alongside me in the car, it’s all about the navigator and I had the right one with me. Sometimes it all comes together, and today it did. This could be the start of an illustrious career for my wife!”
Paul Hernaman and Ray ‘Crow’ Crowther were magnificent in the tests as they really worked their Porsche Carrera hard, looking spectacular as ever, but great team work in the seven regularities ensured they stayed in touch with the leaders, finishing just 13 seconds behind the triumphant Mini.
Anita Wickens took the final championship podium position for navigators after a difficult day encountering traffic, particularly in the morning in the Renault 12 Gordini driven by Malcolm Dunderdale who ended up fourth in the drivers standings. They finished eight overall and first in class in HERO Challenge Three after a fine recovery in the afternoon.
Tracy and John King were absolutely elated with third place overall in HERO Challenge Three, their first podium, hot on the heels of John’s Test Pilot Award on HERO Challenge Two which meant an awful lot to him. Their rapid Toyota MR 2 was again very competitive.
Tracy; “We are chuffed to bits, it has been really great. You remember the early days, avoiding the divorce, I said listen and get it right, but seriously we are delighted.”
John; “We messed up a couple of tests but we were good on the road and it all came together. We are very pleased with all the support we have received from HERO-ERA and so very happy to be on the podium.”
Journalist and author Maurice Hamilton made it back to the finish with a big smile all over his face after his regularity road rally debut alongside Harry Sherrard in the Audi 80 Quattro.
Maurice: “That last regularity was a real sting in the tail. Some of the instructions were so confusing, so that didn’t go well, we engaged reverse a couple of times, let’s put it like that.
Harry; “Earlier on that day there were times when we were on the second. We were running on the second, but that was only up to sort of three quarter distance. Then it didn’t go so well. It was a tricky one, a challenging one, there are probably a few tricks in there but Maurice really got the hang of it, for his first ever regularity rally he did a great job.
Maurice; “This is totally different to anything else I’ve ever done, I didn’t really know what to expect with lots of different jobs to do at the same time, but I love the variety, the map reading, checking the times in my mind.
“It’s a lot tougher than I thought but I loved it because it’s totally different to what you and I have done, which has been to go flat out everywhere. Here it’s going at a certain regular pace and that’s very much more difficult than I ever would have thought, but I really enjoyed that. I’d like to do another, I got the whole idea of the regularity, the speed tests and everything, The route finding was fine, it was good and that all worked well.
“The HERO-ERA team have clearly put such an awful lot of work into the organisation behind this. Very impressive. The way it’s done is to a very professional standard. Everything’s good, everything worked and charming people to deal with, we even had a nice coffee and lunch break!
“There were roads that weren’t there, there were roads that should have been there, but yes we had fun too! I’m making one further confession, on the very first regularity and literally the first thing, we forgot to start the stopwatch so that was a slight handicap!
Harry; “ I am sure we I can get him back for more.”
The German crew of Thomas Boemmer and Nils Marose really enjoyed the rally as they were here for their build up to LeJog in their VW Sirocco.
Thomas; It’s wonderful. It’s very wonderful. We love it. Really, really and we come back in December. Of course, we told you yesterday we are learning, but it was a good experience.”
Nils; “I’m going with the navigation now, I think it’s quite good so the route with the correct road since today I think it’s no problem, but that’s a nearly no problem until the real results are published!
“The time management I think it’s quite hard without the time being reset at the same point, with intermediate distance at the right moment automatically, so I have to push a lot of buttons at the same time, it’s a tough job being a navigator, but we loved the event.”
Former BRDC Chairman John Grant enjoyed a good finish in the HERO-ERA Arrive Drive Alfa Romeo GTV 1750, This was John’s second ever regularity rally and the first for his navigator Rachel Maguire.
Rachel; “It’s my first time as a navigator so I’m still learning but have sort of been thrown into the deep end. I think I made quite a few mistakes but with a bit more confidence I can take to the roads in better shape. I would like to try another event some time.”
John, “This is my second rally, I think it went much better than the first one, I had a good navigator in Rachel, you know she showed great natural talent, with more practice she will be really good. I enjoyed the Alfa Romeo as well, it is a delight to drive, its handling is superb.”
Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham won the Masters Class in their Porsche 356B whilst also worthy of note, after a great performance was the Ford Fiesta of Jacqui and Chris Hellings in fifth place overall beating a lot of former champions into the bargain!
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases