Over 90 cars are due to start the popular HERO Challenge Two from Bicester on Saturday 5th September, following the safe event return made by the company on the Novice Trial ten days ago.
The fulsome entry list shows a complete gambit of historic vehicles from the oldest, a 1927 Bentley 4 ½ Litre Open Tourer to a 1986 Porsche 924S coming over from Germany. There’s a classic Renault 8 Gordini, Sunbeam Rapier and a 1972 Porsche Carrera, even a Reliant Scimitar SE5. Not only have competitors entered because they are keen to get back to rallying again, but many find the HERO Challenge format very appealing as it provides a great day’s all round motor sport.
It will certainly be pretty much non stop! There are six regularities and five tests, some of which are to be held on a new unused venue. There will be no map plotting for the fun filled 150 mile route taking crews around some of the quietest roads in the area.
The strong entry of intermediate and novices clearly shows crews are ready, eager to compete and learn more. Another reason for the popularity of the format is that the event works for all levels of experience. Additionally, for those wishing to brush up on their skills and novices keen to increase their navigational and timing skills, there is another popular HERO Training Academy event on Friday the 4th September designed to help tune crews up for rally action the following day.
There will be three sessions run by Seren and Elsie Whyte who received many compliments from attendees at the ‘teach ins’ as part of the Novice Trial ten days ago. The classes will cover the basics, next steps and the final one aptly named ‘The Tricky Stuff’.
The task now for HERO-ERA Competition Director Guy Woodcock and his team is to deliver a second safe event but this time for over 90 cars as he relates;
“Following on from the success of HERO ERAs first event after lockdown, the Novice Trial, which the competitors, marshals and the organisational teams all really enjoyed, we are literally straight into HERO Challenge Two. I think most people were just glad to be back out on the road last weekend but most importantly the COVID-19 procedures all worked out well. Myself and the team now move onto Hero Challenge Two next weekend based out of Bicester Heritage for which we have been inundated with crews again wanting to get back on the open road for a full day of competition. After a lot of planning and work we think we have a great event lined up for the 90 plus crews.”
In the Pre War and Pre 1962 over 2500cc class there are some stand out entries. Vintage combatants here include multi time Atlantic rower Elliott Dale with Charlotte Ryall navigating in their Bentley Derby Special and Blue Diamond man John Lomas, a regular on Flying Scotsman in his 1936 Riley Sprite, with top navigator Pete Johnson alongside in what could be the cold seat. They will both be checking the times of Martin Haines and Steve Seaman in the 1927 Bentley 4 ½ Litre Open Tourer.
To complete this class there are no less than four Austin Healey 3000 from Mk 1-3, then the Jaguar Mk2 of Gavin Webster and Andy Chun fresh from their successful seventh overall on the Novice Trial. Car 23 is the Le Jog favourite of ‘evergreen’ competitors Robert and Susan McClean in their 1962 Rover P4-100.
Whilst the Minis in all their different forms will have their own front wheel drive ‘face off’ in Class 2, Class 3 reveals a five times RAC Rally of the Tests winner Paul Wignall in his famous Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint navigated by nephew Andrew Neate whose interest was stimulated after taking part in the HERO Virtual Table Top Rally during lockdown. Paul is making his own contribution to encouraging youngsters into the sport.
Darren Everitt and Susan Dixon return in their Triumph 2000, a very popular car and crew on the classic rally scene. Scrolling further down the Class 3 entries at car 42 is the mighty Ford Falcon of Stephen Hardwick who finished fourth overall on the Novice Trial a week ago navigating his daughter Olivia in the family Volvo Amazon 123GT. This time Stephen is driving with future son in law Ashley Bennett starting the long navigational road to their Peking to Paris Motor Challenge in 2022.
Fellow competitors of the Hardwicks on Classic Rally New Zealand are Sally and Nigel Woof entered in a Triumph TR4 running just ahead of Richard and Karen Claydon in a Sunbeam Imp, another different car adding spice to the entry.
It is always great to see former new entrants making their way up the ladder in the sport. John and Tracy King who threw themselves previously into the deep end on the Three Legs of Mann after a HERO Challenge event, have made great progress since and are at car 79 in their Triumph Dolomite Sprint.
Another crew who have made admirable progress in a similar way are Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickens, they are usually competing in their Mercedes 190 E Cosworth but will instead appear in 1968 Renault Gordini 8, a car that did so well in the French Championship and Rally Monte Carlo.
Other fascinating cars on the rally are Neil and Newman Fruin in their Reliant Scimitar SE5 and Robert and Julie Clifton in their 1972 Vauxhall Viva Magnum, a crowd pleaser wherever it turns up. In the same class is the 1974 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 of Sally and David Ward, a car everyone enjoys seeing on events, the crew being regulars on HERO Challenges.
It is pleasing to see Guido Fiebes from Germany on the start list with his Swedish navigator Per Jonsson in their Porsche 924S, hopefully they make it from Europe unhindered by any restrictions. Whilst HERO-ERA will be running the event to their adapted Government and Motorsport UK COVID safety procedures successfully used for the first time on the Novice Trial, there is always the possibility of a spike locking down a region or country preventing a competitor from travelling.
In Class 8 we find the Grandfather – Grandson giant killing podium act from the 2020 Novice Trial, Paul Bloxidge and Oli Waldock who is just 14 years of age. He quite comfortably became the youngest ever HERO-ERA podium sitter by finishing third overall with his teacher and mentor, HERO Cup Champion of 2018, Paul Bloxidge in their VW Golf GTi. Paul has been training Oli as a navigator for a few months now and is expecting his grandson to be a little less nervous than he was on his first ever event ten days ago.
How good is that for the sport when most consider bringing in young blood so important?
There are no less than eight classes with an additional non qualifying division for ‘Masters.’ These experts are ineligible for overall awards but are expected to enjoy a major battle between themselves even though some are there just to shake their cars down for the majors later in the year.
The bulk of the field enjoy having top crews on their novice and intermediate events as they aspire to reaching their level eventually. The experts are also always happy to help and pass on whatever guidance they can.
Watch out for a ding dong intra class fight between gold medalists Kevin Haselden and Gary Evans in their freshly built Peter Horsburgh Mini Cooper S and Thomas Bricknell with his Golden Roamer Champion Navigator father Roger alongside in their VW Golf GTi. In the middle of this we should find winners and gold medal men Stephen Owens and ace navigator Nick Bloxham, himself a very capable driver. They will be in the powerful Porsche 911 SWB.
They may just spring a surprise again, but father and daughter Stuart and Emily Anderson can never be discounted especially after their gold medal triumphs on Le Jog, putting many more modern cars to shame in their 1937 Bentley Derby 4.2 Litre. Then there are Summer Trial winners, father and son Steve and Thomas Robertson in their Triumph TR3 – even though they are not part of the main action this is quite a class!
Let battle commence – safely!
For press inquiries and more information on HERO Challenge Two please visit: https://heroevents.eu/event-schedule/hero-challenge-two-september-2020/ or contact HERO-ERA Communications Director, Tony Jardine – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07989 408 726
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases