LeJog was the toughest UK based HERO-ERA event of the year, the ideal platform for the finale of two major HERO-ERA competitions, the HERO Cup for the top driver of the year and the Golden Roamer Award for the top navigator.
As this was the last rally of the season, the HERO Cup and Golden Roamer competitions became a sub- plot to the main event but quickly became top of the agenda as the battle, particularly for the Golden Roamer, became so close, it was not settled until John O’Groats.
The head-to-head, with drivers Stephen Owens and Noel Kelly in contention for the HERO Cup and then top navigators Pete Johnson and Henry Carr fighting for the Golden Roamer, was always going to be fierce.
Stephen Owens already had a healthy lead in the driver’s competition but he had to hold it all together and finish in a good position, although Stephen was still nervous as he remembered disappointment on LeJog the previous year, when things went wrong.
In the navigator’s competition, Pete Johnson had the interesting dilemma of already having scored the maximum number of times during the year, having to drop scores. Henry Carr had a number of good finishes during the HERO-ERA season but with American driver Paul O’Kane in his VW Golf Gti on LeJog, they kept creeping up on Noel Kelly and Pete Johnson in their Volvo 122S which was misfiring badly at the start of the rally.
Henry could have overtaken Golden Roamer leader Pete at any time during the last part of the event, to the point that Johnson was not sure if he had won the award or not until he was given the good news at the finish line in John O’Groats.
Pete Johnson; “It was news to me, but good news! I thought it was so close between me and Henry that I had no idea what the result was, it was just brilliant to be told that I had won the Golden Roamer, a prestigious award that all the navigators want to win.
“Despite the car popping and banging we kept it going and Noel drove superbly, he kept Stephen Owens honest.
“We made some mistakes on LeJog which really annoyed me, but we remained in the Silver medal category which was great and helped our cause. It was a brilliant rally, the last regularity was enormous fun and then there was the big bonus of the Golden Roamer!”
Two HERO-ERA championships were resolved at the same time during this, the last HERO-ERA event of the 2022 season. Stephen Owens finally won the HERO Cup for drivers, a championship he has been runner up in on five previous occasions!
Stephen Owens; “Eventually it came good. I owe a lot to HERO-ERA for looking after me down the highways and byways of the UK, it’s been really, really competitive. My navigator Nick Bloxham has been brilliant to help get me through. It has been a tough 2022, and to cap it all, LeJog was very tiring – it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. There are some great competitors out there and we have enjoyed some really good competition this season, but to finally win the HERO Cup means so much to me, I am just delighted.”