Following delayed recovery from a delicate eye operation, twice 2021 winning HERO Challenge driver Angus McQueen has had to pull out of the finale starting at Bicester Heritage this Saturday 25th September.
His double winning navigator Mike Cochrane was therefore unable to compete and go for the navigator’s crown at one point until Alan Pettit stepped in with his Volvo, a reprieve for the champion navigator elect.
Angus has to follow the rally results from home to see what happens to his 12 point lead in the HERO Challenge Driver Championship standings, whilst also watching to see if his winning navigator Mike Cochrane can keep his slender three point lead in the equivalent navigator’s championship.
Angus McQueen, BMW 323i driver and HERO Challenge Championship leader;
“It is Frustrating for us not to be able to try and defend our position in the last of the three HERO Challenges. It is such a great little series in the middle of the HERO-ERA event year. I love the format with its own championship as well.
“So as I see it through my one good eye, is that Mike will have to try hard with Alan Pettit to keep the Saab boys away from the Clock Watcher Award and overall positions. The way the class points work out will be interesting, but based on past performances it could be very tight at the end of the day.
“Mike is really defending first and second places. He would be very unlucky to score no points at all in the class awards and that is really the only way he would not secure one of those two podium positions (he was second in last year’s championship). Of course, there are a lot more crews out there trying to win on the day but so long as Mike and Matt (Saab) finish, then I think it is between them for the navigator’s title.
“On the driver side it is possible for me to drop to third mathematically if Alistair (Saab) and Simon Ayris (MGB) have good days, and based on recent history that is very likely!!
There is not much I can do about it other than be grateful for the two wins Mike and I have already secured to at least give me a shot at a podium spot, even after just two out of the three challenges.
“I will of course be picking up the results as the day progresses and hoping Mike and Alan can pull yet another victory out of the bag”.
Mike Cochrane; “Angus and I are absolutely gutted not to be taking part in the final Hero Challenge, especially as we’ve been lucky enough to have such a great run up to now.
“We’ve been so looking forward to doing our very best to take the championship win, especially resuming the battle we’ve been having all year with Alistair and Matt in the Saab. They’ve had the most fantastic run, made even more so when you realise this is their very first season taking part in the sport. They are definitely going to be the pair to watch at the weekend.
“Unfortunately, as we know, Angus has had another detached retina 10 days ago (he had the other one done 2 years ago). It’s meant that he can’t drive for at least two weeks, which is the worst possible timing.
“The only good news for Angus is that he’s currently sitting 12 points clear at the top of the driver’s championship already, so there is still a chance of him finishing in the top three without even taking part in number 3.
“Obviously I’ve been very worried about Angus, particularly making sure he was taking enough time to look after his eyes properly, especially with the Rally of the Tests and LeJog on the horizon. So I had pretty much given up the any idea of the rally this weekend, but it was Angus who was the one pushing me to find another driver to take his place.
Thankfully I had seen that Alan Pettit’s name wasn’t down as either navigator or driver for HC3 and so I gave him a call. Although he was incredibly busy all week he has moved everything around to make it work and very kindly agreed to not only drive for me, but to bring his fantastic PV544 along for us to drive in.
“Clearly a huge amount of our success up to now has been down to how Angus and I perform as a team. So although I’d love for Alan and I to put a good performance together this weekend I don’t have any unrealistic expectations of being on the podium on Saturday night – especially with the incredibly high standard of the rest of the field.”