Who would have thought after 10 days, 3500 kms across five countries with 42 regularities and eight tests, that the three podium positions would go down to the wire on the final day?
There was tremendous pressure on Dick and Harry Baines as they went into the final day of London Lisbon just eight seconds ahead of the sweet and powerful Datsun 240Z of Nick Maris and Henry Carr. The Datsun crew were expected to overhaul the Cooper S crew for the lead at any moment, given their relentless pursuit, but it was not to be. Nick and Henry briefly stumbled whilst farmers, Dick and his son Harry Baines held their nerve to win by 15 seconds! “Not bad for a couple of farmers!” said a delighted Harry through a champagne soaked smile under the HERO-ERA podium arch in the Hotel Palacio, Estoril Portugal, the scene of many a motorsport triumph. The Hotel Palacio was where Ayrton Senna celebrated his first ever Grand Prix win 1985, so the Baines took their awards in an historic motor sport setting.
All it took for Nick and Henry Carr to lose the battle on the final day was a brief hesitation on a junction of regularity four, the roads that threatened to contain a ‘sting in the tail,’ and Nick’s confusion on the race track test between a box to stop in and a stop astride. Nick worked out that this had cost them five precious seconds. However, the crew were generous in their praise of the winners and were absolutely delighted to take second place. Nick; “I can’t say that it’s not bittersweet, but when one is offered to take two! If someone had told me at the outset that we were going to be in second place, I would have been over the moon. The reality is that we are both over the moon!”
Tony Sutton and Bernard Northmore enjoyed a major battle with Stephen Owens and Pete Johnson over the last three days in what became the battle of the Porsches as they kept swopping the final podium position. Tony was in his 911 SC and Stephen in the 911 SWB, but with just two tests left at the Kiro Kartodromo on the final day, there was just three seconds between them. Sutton and Northmore kept their noses ahead by the same margin to claim third overall. Quite a contrast as Tony pointed out to his ‘Spirit’ award on the recent Flying Scotsman. Tony; “I was in one of the slowest cars with one of the youngest navigators (his 14 yr old son) whilst here I am in one of the faster cars with one of the most experienced navigators, so clearly the results are very different when you are with someone who knows what they are doing!”
Stephen Owens and Pete Johnson won their class in the Porsche 911 SWB as some consolation for just losing out on the podium place.
Also winning their class were Julia and Steve Robertson who were an impressive 5th overall in the 1955 TR3, nibbling away at Owen’s and Johnson’s times on a regular basis. Graham Platts and Neil Ripley were forced to nurse their 1956 Austin Healey 100M for the last day and a half after suspension mounting damage, but still achieved their goal of winning their class with a creditable sixth overall.
John Evans and Tristan Judge were very pleased to win their class in the rare and striking Alfa Romeo 1600 GT Zagato, seventh overall ahead of Dave Maryon and Andy Ballantyne in their MGB.
Crews who also performed with gusto, which propelled them to class wins, were Susan and Derek Skinner in their Porsche 912 and Paul and Sandra Heaney on their first long distance rally in their TR6.
Sadly Neil Lawson-May and Richard Williams had to retire their ditch beating Lancia Fulvia on the final day, the car being transported back to Lisbon on a flat bed truck. Robert Cook and Geoffrey Morson won their class and were 16th overall in the crowd pulling 1937 Chevrolet Coupe, despite not running in the final tests when the fan and cooling system cried enough. Mike and Liz Dickson were equally happy to finish just ahead of Robert and Geoffrey in their MGB which had not had reverse gear for three days, leading to some tactical driving!
Dick and Harry Baines, Mini Cooper S
Winners London Lisbon 2022
Harry, “We’re breathless and we are here, and yes we have done it! Yeah I feel amazing, it has been brilliant. We thought we’d lost it this morning plugging slowly up a long climb on the first regularity with only an eight second gap. But we’ve had a good day and we’ve won it!”
Dick; “Yes we are relieved, but it went right down to the wire. We held our nerve so the result is fantastic. I really enjoyed it!”
Harry; “In answer to your question, I am 26 and this has been my fifth rally. We started last year at the Novice Trial, then we did the Summer Trial and two HERO Challenges and now we’re here. We went to learn lessons in navigation classes too- that paid off, thank you Seren Whyte.
“There was huge pressure today, we had very little margin and they’ve been catching us for two days one way or another. With not with much power to go up the hills, it’s been difficult, especially yesterday when we forgot to zero the trip.
“We have been against some big cars and some expensive cars, and some people that have been at it for a lifetime, so I’m really impressed with it.
“This little car has been in storage for 21 years at the farm. The last time this car was out was 2001 when it did the Monte Carlo Challenge. Unfortunately dad’s navigator at the time was his best friend, he passed away just afterwards so the car has been parked up for 21 years on the farm in the shed.
“Me and my brother have been going into this car and sitting in it since we we’re 4 or 5 years old, and the car has never been out of the shed, but each time I was in it I was thinking I wanted to be a rally driver! We are also proud that the car is prepared by me and my Dad.”
Nick Maris and Henry Carr, Datsun 240Z
Second overall London Lisbon 2022
Nick; “Well, it was very close, and it made for some excitement for several days. It was a wonderful partnership with Henry, there was such a good feeling in the car, it was really enjoyable. It makes a big difference to be alongside someone who is so professional, ‘Henry the Navigator’ he should be called as a salute to the famous Portuguese navigator from history.
“It’s true, I did say several times that the Mini was really well driven. They are a good team, a father and son who know what they’re doing. And they know how to compensate for the cars weaknesses and use its strengths, it was a pleasure to watch them work.”
Henry; “ Well, yes there is a slight bit of disappointment, but you know, we are very happy indeed. We didn’t really expect this podium, we hadn’t met till 10 days ago. Nick’s been fantastic, he is the perfect gentleman and a great driver. He’s needed to be a great driver to gain to the position because a lot of the days it wasn’t about navigation, it was about how quickly you got back on the time.
“We thought there was a chance against the Mini, especially on the first regularity this morning, it was uphill but we only just managed to get there! Then we had a hesitation on junction so we dropped the same amount of time. So Harry has done exactly the same as us today on the regularities.”
Tony Sutton and Bernard Northmore, Porsche 911 SC
Third overall London Lisbon 2022
Tony; “That was close, there was a second or two in it this morning and it could have gone either way. And, you know, we thought that with such a fearsome competitor as Stephen, it was going to be a hard ask. But we actually ended up having a very good day.”
Bernard; “It was a very good day, we were very happy that this morning went well. Some of the ‘stings in the tail’ we managed to conquer. We found the slots, we found the rough tracks and we were thinking ‘are we really supposed to go down here?’ I just found a marshal at the end which is always welcome. We did pretty good times so we thought we were in with a shout depending on how Stephen and Pete had got on.”
Tony; “London Lisbon was fabulous. The camaraderie and the spins have been brilliant, the roads were just amazing. It was just lovely, great people, every one of them, a great group.”
Patrick Burke, Managing Director HERO-ERA
“There has been a fantastic reaction which I think is nice. People tend to forget when they get back after two years of the pandemic, what rallying is really like. Some said it was hard, but they still had big smiles on their faces. And you know, it’s true that after two years, crews just wanted to get back out there. London to Lisbon is one of our main events, but what is encouraging is that it has attracted a lot of beginners because the truth is that we have to bring in new people, promote and protect this sport. Look at the winning navigator today, Harry Baines, he is just 26 and this is only his fifth event – how brilliant is that?”
“I think it’s great, and I hope that he continues to come to us and certainly they’ve done very, very well. I look forward to seeing them back and again and again on other events.”
Noel Kelly and Andy Lane, Volvo 122 S
Andy, “It was quite challenging, quite tiring. There were a few mechanical problems, but we managed to get back out there and enjoy it.”
Noel’ “Very similar views to Andy, it was a hot event which was good. We had a few mechanicals as Andy said and a few other things, but we made it in the end. The rain in France was only a little bit and as soon as we hit Andorra then Spain it heated up.
“We lost a strut, the clutch needed adjustments, the alternator went, yep, it was a typical rally really.”
Mike and Liz Dixon, MGB GT
Liz; “It’s been fantastic. It really, really has. There was a point where I sort of thought I didn’t want it to end, but actually now I think it’s ended at just the right point. I really don’t know how or if I could go on any more, and the heat, I’m not good in the heat, but it’s been a wonderful one. I really, really enjoyed it. “
Mike, “We have been without reverse gear for about three days. We got to work around that until today when we hit a ‘NO’ board on a downslope and I was trying to push the MG with Liz in the heat – it wasn’t gonna go anywhere! So we managed to coast down to a cafe where there was a slight upslope and an empty parking space to get back into, but it cost us quite a bit of time.
“The event was absolutely fantastic. It really has been, it’s been pitched just right. Long, hard and it built up really well. Absolutely loved it.”
It is also important to note that despite the days, the mileages and the emissions from all the competitor and support vehicles, all emissions from the London Lisbon will be totally offset using the NET HERO carbon offsetting scheme. HERO-ERA is a carbon neutral company.
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases