The HERO Challenge is back, with the ever-popular one day event kicking off the first of a three-part mini championship in Yorkshire this coming Saturday. The initial instalment of this trilogy of events should have taken place earlier in the year, but fate intervened, as it has on many occasions over the past year, and a postponement was enforced, therefore HERO Challenge Two will signal the commencement of this year’s proceedings.
It is not before time, and no doubt all of those in the 77 strong entry will be champing at the bit to get underway on an event that see’s the Challenge visit a new venue a few miles north of the Humber, with the event based out of Bishop Burton College. 2018 Golden Roamer winning navigator Ian Canavan is the architect of the route for this one, with many excited at the prospect of what the poacher turned game keeper has devised, in an area that he knows very well. ‘Camper’ had this to say about what people can expect,
“We are bringing the HERO Challenge entrants to a part of the UK rarely visited by HERO-ERA, the Yorkshire Wolds. A new start / finish location near Beverley is the base for almost 90 miles of scenic regularities, spread in a clover leaf fashion from Bishop Burton College. Included in the 8 driving tests, we have 3 super challenges on the vast concrete apron at the historic Elvington airfield. I’m confident it will be an enjoyable day of sport with straightforward navigational challenges in the unique Wolds landscape. Quiet rural roads await the 80 crews, with minimal link sections, and of course renowned Yorkshire hospitality. Don’t forget your flat caps and ferrets!”
If the prospect of new roads and locations doesn’t whet one’s appetite, the extensive entry should certainly do the trick, with a wonderful mix of established front runners and impressive up and comers. It is wonderful to see so many names that just a few years ago were entrants on the Novice Trial still involved and mixing it with the more established names in the sport and it is perhaps indicative of the clamour to compete in the HERO Challenge events that there is also a healthy Master’s entry, on what is a blue event.
A brief glance down the entry list reveals one or two names that may cause a bit of a stir, with Paul Hernaman’s navigator for the route a certain Ray Crowther, known simply as ‘Crow’, or perhaps the lesser spotted Crow in recent years, although with many successful years in the sport he will undoubtedly add spice to an already competitive field. It is Crow’s organisation and development of Tabletop rallying though for which he is best known, and the international championship that he has created through this has generated many thousands of pounds for charity over the years.
Elsewhere there is a late addition to the driver’s entry with a name that will be familiar to anybody involved in the Irish rally scene over the years, with Kieran McAnallen entered with Colm Quinn in a Cortina Crusader. With plenty of history between the hedges in Ireland, including years of involvement with legend Bertie Fisher, this is Kieran’s first foray into regularity events, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on with the different pace of life!
Last year’s champion driver Darren Everitt returns in the Masters Category, with Susan Dixon, whilst last year’s Navigator Champion Charlotte Ryall will also be present in the same category, alongside Elliott Dale but not as we know them. They will be in a Mk1 Escort not their usual Bentley. Those who were in amongst the top runners of the series last year include Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane, who have started the season strongly with a maiden win at the Summer Trial, and Damon Green and Sean McGuire, who were also contesting last year’s top spots, will also no doubt be pushing to go a bit better this year.
Add that to up-and-coming talent such as Novice Trial winners Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite, and young navigator Oli Waldock partnered with Grandfather Paul Bloxidge, not to mention a whole host of more familiar names, the entry is one that presents interest and intrigue and makes for predicting the results on the day as much of an unknown as the route itself.
What will almost certainly be a matter of fact though, is that when the chequered flag falls, all entrants will have been treated to a tremendous day of rallying action, that will no doubt kick the Challenge Championship off in some style.
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases