After eight regularities and eight tests in a compact 149 mile route, Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane scored their second win of 2021, (BMW 323i) by just six seconds from another 2021 podium sitting crew, Alastair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite (SAAB 900 Turbo).
Four crews were involved in the frontline ‘War of the Wolds’ including Paul Bloxidge and his 15 year old star navigator grandson, Oli Waldock and the impressive John Lomas and Pete Johnson in their 1936 Riley Sprite, really taking it to the moderns with a superb third place podium for the vintage car. Paul and Oli ended up fourth overall.
Right to the last test at Bishop Burton College, the result was not clear as the two recent winners, McQueen and Cochrane the Summer Trail, Leckie and Outhwaite A Novice Trial, were locked in close combat as these competitive crews proved they have successfully climbed the regularity rallying ladder.
Angus McQueen; “What a day, what a fantastic day, I’m even starting to enjoy the tests now which used to be our nemesis, we are throwing the car in there. But those extra seconds help on the tests as you can keep banging in the fours and fives on regularities but good test performances really help.”
Mike Cochrane; “It was nearly all over before we started. The trip froze half a mile before the first regularity and we thought that was that! But we got it going again then it never missed all day. To win a second event proves we are getting stronger, we know each other better and work even closer as a team, Angus has even started to understand my short hand! It has been a brilliant day with a great route, so thanks to Ian Canavan.”
Alastair Leckie; “A bit of beginners luck, a bit of quick learning and some excellent tuition from Seren and Elise Whyte, but it was really good fun today. The tests were great but really tight here which didn’t suit our car as much as previous events, but I still managed to scare Matt a couple of times.
Matt Outhaite; “We’ve found a system that works so we are going to stick with it, we are learning every time. A few things caught us out on Summer Trial but we learned from those mistakes and here we haven’t dropped much. The route from Ian Canavan was great, good roads, very scenic but it kept us on our toes with some surprises. At one of the triangles that nearly caught us out, we only just managed to stay out of a ditch!”
The Bishop Burton College which hosted a motor sport event for the very first time, is also an equestrian training venue for UK Olympic riders and pentathletes, with a huge indoor arena. It was the perfect venue to provide space for all 74 cars plus act as the start/finish area and provide lots of tarmac for some very tight tests early and late in the day.
The other test venue which was fast and open, proving to be a hit with teams, was Elvington Airfield for literally three huge tests on the expansive concrete apron, aptly named, Nimrod, Viscount and Vulcan, those aircraft sitting ghost like in the adjacent aircraft museum. Crews really enjoyed letting their cars loose cars there, in particular Andy Beaumont, navigated by rookie Ben Blanchard, flung the 1972 Holbay engined Sunbeam Rapier H120 around in a series of massive, yet controlled slides.
Elvington Airfield is also famous for the Vampire Jet powered car crash that nearly claimed the life of Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond in 2006. It has one of the longest runways in the UK having been reconstructed by the USAF in the fifties to take B-52 Stratofortress aircraft. The apron used by the rally was designed to take 35 of these aircraft. Just visible are fuel hose connectors which are connected to pipes in major fuel bunkers 25 miles away in Goole, such was the fuel requirements of theses big birds, fortunately they were never required.
The eight regularities were run in the beautiful rolling plateau of the Yorkshire Wolds. In many of the classically beautiful Yorkshire villages, locals had arranged seats or sat on the walls of their houses to wave and cheer as the vintage and classic rally cars passed by. But none of the competitors were prepared for the sort of reception they received from Richard Webster and his friends close to the village of Pocklington on a hill as the route climbed out of Nunburnholme.
14 vintage and classic cars lined the grassy verges of the by now sun drenched lane, to form a corridor of historic vehicles with their owners and spectators to hail the HERO Challenge competitors passage. In return crews honked their horns and waved in response to this historic wall of cars. Amongst the cars was Richard Webster’s 1935 supercharged racing MG NE Magnette with an Ulster TT body. Richard; “ I received the PR letter saying the rally was coming through and decided to get some friends together with their cars to watch, we loved it!”
Whilst the top four battled away across the Wolds, finishing right behind them after an impressive performance were Dick and Harry Baines, the father and son team in their 1965 Morris Mini Cooper S. They were worried that they may have dropped a lot of time and maybe places at the end having been caught at a busy crossroads for what seemed an eternity. They needn’t have worried as they kept fifth to demonstrate real trajectory in their short but successful rallying progress since Novice Trial.
Paul Bloxidge, Oli Waldock, 4th 1964 Triumph TR4. Paul; “I enjoyed the tests, Elvington is just an amazing place, you could really stretch the legs of the car. The regularities were good, apart from one dodgy tulip, well two next to each other, a triangle which perhaps if you’ve painted the white lines twenty years ago it might have been alright, and a Give Way sign that had been taken down, otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr Canavan who was the route organiser will be getting a phone call! Good choice of venue, we’ve not been here before, minimal traffic, great event, well done Ian.”
Oli; “I think Ian should be proud of himself, he worked really hard, it’s been a really good route, it’s just such a shame he can’t be here to see it for himself, I am sure he’s gutted. Apart from that one tulip it’s been a really good day. The highlight for me was getting ones and twos on the regularities!”
Previous HERO Challenge winners and therefore now in the Masters Class, were Susan Dixon and Darren Everitt in their 1965 Triumph 2000. They were enjoying their own private Masters battle with Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham’s Porsche 911 right until late in the event when each crew dropped time. Ultimately, Stephen and Nick missed a farm yard entrance which gave them a penalty handing back the win to Susan and Darren who were very pleased to take the Masters title on HERO Challenge Two.
Susan Dixon; “It was enormous fun from start to finish, we had a ball, but we were so glad the sun came out, had our ups and downs but made it in the end. We had our moments on the very last section so it was touch and go with Stephen and Nick but we are absolutely thrilled to take the win. “We were a bit shocked to find that as Masters we only get our road book half an hour before the start, but still we won the Masters and it’s another notch isn’t it?”
For Darren Everitt from Yorkshire, this is his local event, his home match, but it didn’t stop him from losing his way home. Darren; “ It’s a problem but as they say it’s a right good rally, I didn’t recognize anything! The result though is great, it’s wonderful to be in there mixing it with crews who are already Masters.”
Third place and a podium in a 1936 pre war car has been a stunning result for the Riley Sprite of John Lomas and Pete Johnson.
Pete Johnson; “Having driven the Summer Trial, I found it very hard. We’ve had a good run but I found the Summer Trial more relaxing in the drivers seat! If had to choose between navigating or driving, I think most navigators would choose driving if they had enough money!”
John; “It was a good run this morning, although it’s always a war between us and the organisers but you’re winning at the moment because we made a mistake on one of the last sections and lost 23 seconds. But it’s nice to be up there and especially in a pre war car to show you can cut it with the best. It’s been a good day.”
Darrell Staniforth and Rick Ekin, 1967 Morris Mini Cooper S, 23rd overall, 4th in class. Darrell; “A lovely day, the route was excellent, the tests have been great we enjoy them in the Mini. The regularities have been good as well but tricky in places. The roads are nice and wide in parts so you can get past people, but haven’t been held up at all today.”
Rick Ekin;” Darrell drives so well on the tests, we’ve had a couple of really good test times. I’m learning all the time, probably forty percent of this I’ve never done before, although I may have made the navigation tougher that what it should be. It’s all there, some things you know are done to try you but I think with a few more runs at it you can make a fist of it. It’s certainly done for beginners, I really enjoyed it.”
The next round of the HERO Challenge Championship is in a month’s time, HERO Challenge One in Chesterfield, different territory to Yorkshire but none the less a route is ready to entertain and test the best as the competition heats up.