After easing themselves into a relatively straight forward first day, 88 cars left the Casa Hotel Chesterfield headquarters on Saturday to tackle four tests and five regularities that would be more demanding than Friday.
The first car was away at 8.00am, straight to Steve Perez’ estate for two tests, running a different direction to Friday, they were designed to wake everyone up. They did that and more, as confusion reigned. Some cars were backtracking into the path of others, fortunately all at a relatively slow pace, as horns blared the odd warning.
Nicola and Benedict Thomas on their first event, missed the turn in front of the house and had to thread their Volvo Amazon back along the narrow walled estate road only to confront a Triumph TR6. All ended well, as driver Nicola explained; “I didn’t listen to my husband and missed the first turn, we had to turn back but had a near miss! Fortunately, it was all at slow speed, but despite that, we are loving it.” Benedict agreed and added;” I love cars and wanted to try a bit of classic car rallying so we went to the HERO forum at Race Retro, then we found a car and this is our first event, we are learning a lot and will definitely do another rally! Nicola added a fascinating fact as she revealed that their car was, in fact, her first car from 25 years ago, she found it, bought it and it’s now a rally car!
They were not alone in having difficulties on the first test of the day. Paul and Laura Denner in their TR6 met Graham Parker and Neil Brown’s MGB GT backtracking down the narrow estate road, gently gliding past each other, whilst Anthony and Wendy Thomas’ Jaguar Mk 2 Jaguar tangoed with David Westway and Roger Smith in their Austin Healey, in a very poetic way. Brothers Alex and Peter Beavan were also ruing their first test corner miss in the Volvo Alex uses for work. But as younger brother Peter said; “ It got better as the day went on, we finished 30th overall which is OK, I’m just a bit worried about the map work we may have to do tomorrow.”
In fact, it was all good humoured as Porsche 911 driver Lynette, navigated by husband Chris Whitby, was laughing as she explained to the marshals at the end of the test how she missed the turn, only to be told not to worry as at least 14 crews had ended up on the wrong test! “There were some very bemused people in there” said an official.
Absolute beginners Michael Goodwin and Mitali Agarwal were smiling this morning as they described their first classic car rally experience in their Porsche 911. Mitali said: We didn’t go catastrophically wrong on the navigation although I saw someone waving so I waved back, but it was a marshal so we stopped! Everyone, including the officials, has been so helpful”. Driver Michael added; “The problem was that we missed the beginners briefing which would have helped, so the first day was a bit frantic!”
Matters improved for many competitors as they went into the first regularity of the day set in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales. Memorable sign posts included Darley Dale and at the end of the first regularity by Cassington Water was the signpost for the village Knockherover. By this time Kelvin Bromley and Alan Pettit already had a good feeling in their MG B Roadster as they looked to amend for the loss of time stuck behind a herd of cattle along with most of their fellow MGB drivers in their class yesterday. Kelvin and Alan returned to the Casa Hotel HQ on Saturday night in first place overall.
Alan; “ We had a really good day we even set a few zeros but we were lucky with traffic and few holdups. We saw a tractor and it turned off, we met three cars over a bridge but one let us over. In another case, a tractor and trailer came round the corner, but ten feet earlier and we would have been stuck behind it! It wasn’t science, just good fortune.”
2018 HERO Cup Drivers Champion Paul Bloxidge who is lying third overall in the Masters section driving his VW Golf GTi navigated by Martyn Taylor, felt some results could be affected by traffic.
“We’ve had lots of cars coming towards us so results could be traffic dependent but still we were setting zeros or ones and all went well, the roads have been fantastic!” This was endorsed by several crews who were stuck behind a Carnival as the road was temporarily closed.
Other challenges lay in store for John and Tracy King in their Triumph Dolomite Sprint. After passing the Darley Moor Motorcycle Circuit just after Lower Thurvaston in regularity two, they missed a vital turn, John takes up the story; “ We had gone through all the controls OK but missed the one turn which threw us out, so we went back and started again! It was a lesson in how to play a joker. But now we are really starting to get it together, since HERO Rally One, then the Three Legs of Mann, this is our third event and we learn more on each event.”
Anthony and Wendy Thomas are on their first ever Regularity, after Anthony ran some small classic car events in his area of Haselmere and picked up on HERO events through the website. “ When we first arrived in our bog-standard Jaguar Mk 2 we felt a little bit intimidated by all the other rally prepared cars with their roll cages and modifications, but once you get going and take part it’s very different, people are also very welcoming.”
Guido Fiebes has returned from Germany to compete in his Porsche 924S accompanied by his Swedish navigator Per Jonsson. Both are now avid HERO events fans, said Guido; “We competed in HERO Challenge One but this event is much better, the organization is unbelievably good, in fact, we think it is a miracle of organization! This my third HERO event. Per added; “We did well today, they were great regularities in the morning and the afternoon, we loved the roads and the navigation.
“We are both in the RAC and they have a connection with HERO which is where we first saw some of their events online via the RAC so that got us interested. In fact, we went to the forum at Race Retro, we took the course, twice in fact, after that we really got it.”
As ever there are stories from rallies which start badly and end well. After a great day finishing seventh overall yesterday Bron Burrell and Suzanne Barker suffered a disaster of a day in their famous 1970 World Cup Rally Austin Maxi. The trip wasn’t working this morning, then Suzanne’s door flew open and her time card fell out onto the road but she didn’t know. A man in a 4×4 kept trying to draw alongside to tell them they had lost a file, they thought he was trying to hassle them but once they realised, they went back to find time card in the road, just in time to see a bus run over it! Once retrieved Suzanne jumped back in then inadvertently kicked off the fuel pump switch which took an age to sort out……but the time card is one piece and they are back in the rally!
Finally, one of the great features of the Summer Trial is the wonderful mix of cars. William Morrey and Matthew Mannall are driving a famous 1962 original golden sand coloured Sunbeam Rapier.
This car was originally owned by Scottish rally driver David Thompson who competed in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally with Andrew Cowan in the car, it has been totally been rebuilt by William in the late nineties and still runs strongly today. The crew are aiming for a strong finish on the final day of the Summer Trial to add to that important Scottish rally provenance.
Photos by Blue Passion