It proved to be a long hot, yet late summers day in Shropshire as the contours closed up sending hopes high only for some timing aspirations only to drop lower as traffic held back ambition. The teams only needed to look skywards on regularity seven over the picturesque valley of the high Long Mynd Range to see gliders gently swirling low overhead for a calming effect!
With the action taking place over eight regularities, Wenlock Edge, Ludlow, Clun forest and the South Shropshire Hills provided the stunning scenic back drop for the Summer Trial battle for podiums and class wins. Most competitors were travelling over great roads they had never seen before.
The pre event PR team had again done a great job as many householders were ready with cameras or taken up vantage points perched on their chairs as groups waved and cheered the cars past. The occupants of one beautiful Shropshire house had adorned the high front wall with classic car murals with one of the enthusiastic band dressed in thirties driving garb including cloth helmet and goggles! One farmer with his wife commented as the Saab of Robert Hendy and Michael Joyce cruised by; ‘Pat Moss had one of them, that shows how old I am doesn’t it!’ The farmer was typical of the sort of support the rally met along the road on day two of the Summer Trial.
Popular overnight leaders Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane in their BMW 325i stumbled then tumbled today as Mike explained; “It had been gong really well then we came across this road laying machine, and like a few other cars we just has to roll back to let it through so that was at least twenty seconds gone as we dropped down the order.” The great news at the end of Leg 2 was that Angus and Mike had fought back to third and the final podium position by night fall.
Whilst regularity seven was over the most beautiful section of Leg 2 across the scenic Long Mynd Range, it also had a sting in it’s winding tarmac tail as the glorious weather brought out some tourists who were doing what they do, gazing and unconsciously blocking passage of others at the same time. David and Edward Liddell, the new leaders in their TR4 despite some hold ups explained; Edward; “There was an estate car just sitting in the middle, it wouldn’t move over at all, I think we lost around 96 seconds, other cars further up the queue must have lost many minutes!”
David Liddell and his son Edward have been competitive from the start, lurking in the podium positions but today they pounced. David; “Yesterday was very difficult, quite strenuous at times we got through it without any major problems but today has gone very well.” Edward; ”We’ve also had the luck today which other cars haven’t had unfortunately, but obviously it’s good for us. It has been quite a battle, the Nevilles who were second overnight dropped time, we think they were off route, then the BMW 325i had been leading and now it’s back in close proximity!” David; “Yes the car maybe looking good and sounding good but it’s very oily and a bit cloudy when we stop but we can’t see where it’s coming from. We don’t think it’s a problem as we don’t seem to be using oil, it’s probably just old age!
Moving up from third at lunch to an impressive second place overall is the superb Triumph TR3 of Nicholas Harries who navigates in his own machine, allowing Piers Barclay the privilege of driving the immaculate 1957 car. “Nicholas owns the car, I am just very fortunate to be allowed to drive and thrash it every now and then!” Said Piers.
Nicholas; “Of course, but there is a reason for that, if you look very closely at the rear of the car there is a dent as I backed the car into a post at Pier’s house when I was picking him up yesterday, and that was before the rally had even started!” Was Nicholas worried at all about the immaculate car being thrown around on the rough surfaces of a test? “It’s a bit like a gun dog, it’s referred to as a working dog, this is a working car, it’s going to get a few knocks and that’s what it’s for. It’s a tough little thing really!” And to drive it? Piers; “It’s small, light, responsive. I am very lucky that Nicholas enjoys the navigating as I enjoy the driving.”
Nicholas; “ The rally gods have been kind to us so far, we have had a few delays such as with the odd horse box but we have been able to make up the time so we are waiting for the massive thing to go wrong which will inevitably happen.” Piers; The driving roads have been quite bumpy and tricky with some of the sharp hairpins and steep hills making it difficult to keep the time up. Otherwise it is beautiful, the landscape is fantastic. The highlight for me though are the tests.”
The pair are hopeful of staying in the top ten but as Nicholas added; “ We would be quite disappointed if we dropped down the rankings at this stage.”
Clare and Peter Nedin are father and daughter but they are also a rally family. Clare has enjoyed her rallying and learned a lot of lessons from Peter who is famous in the rally world not least for organising more Le Jogs than anyone. So why has the ace organiser become an entrant? Peter; “I can’t get away from it, it’s in my blood. As soon as events were back on the calendar I thought you have to do something”. Clare;” Oh and Clare, can we use your car? (Austin Healey Lenham Sprite) Normally I’m driving but it’s going OK, the first thing Dad taught me was to get the route right, that’s what we’ve done so far. It’s snug in there, I wouldn’t want to do a longer endurance event in the Sprite with lots of maps, I think I’d elbow the driver all the time.”
Peter; “ I have really been enjoying the event, I take my hat off to everybody for finding the routes, the marshals, the incredible organization under the current restrictions, we’ve been welcomed everywhere but for me it’s great to be back in a car competing.” The Nedins are 19th overall.
John and Tracy King are lying 12th overall in their Triumph Dolomite Sprint. The pair have made their way up from novices over the last year to the intermediate stage, their education included throwing themselves into the deep end on the Three Leggs of Man in 2019. John’s Dolomite Sprint is in great condition, he is always cleaning it! John; “If you clean the car it looks after you!”
Tracy feels that they are now making real progress in the sport, “We are learning to recover a lot quicker, getting into the timing points much better. We are really pleased, John has put a lot of work in and then he helps me as I have struggled a bit but I’m really enjoying it now. It’s all starting to come together which is nice.”
John; There are more rallies planned, we are on the HERO Challenge Three in a couple of weeks time, maybe the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo and the Scottish Malts next year, so considering it was going to be such a busy year, then the disease came along, we are now just so happy to be out rallying again.”
Robert and Julie Clifton had to switch from their regular Vauxhall Viva Magnum when it ‘broke’ as Julie said. “We realised we needed a car quickly and we had bought this Porsche 944 for Le Jog but it was standard, that was Monday, but RPS turned it around really quickly and we are pretty happy with it, so we’ve called him Dirk.” Robert; “We wanted a gentleman’s rally car, something a little less aggressive where it’s easier to talk inside, what’s more I am really enjoying driving it!” The Cliftons were lying 16th at the end of Leg 2.
Amanda Johnson and Andy Ballantyne are 14th overall in the Mini Cooper S, Amanda is clearly enjoying the rally; “It has been going well, great scenery, lovely weather and a great navigator, just a few little gearbox issues so we can’t complain. I really enjoyed the tests yesterday, especially when we went off the tarmac onto the rough, it wasn’t really what I expected, there was lots a gravel and we nearly ended up in a log pile.”. Andy; “ We are just having a problem selecting low gears at the moment, we are trying to nurse her a little bit and just get her round really. It’s been a cracking route, enough to keep you on your toes, really good speeds as well.”
David and Melanie Roberts have enjoyed a good day, bringing their Porsche 911 Carrera up to 11th place having dropped way down the order from seventh yesterday when they got stuck behind another car. David;” It has been tough and challenging but very enjoyable, we have encountered very little traffic today and the car has gone well. Maybe we will go for it tomorrow but it just depends if we have a good result we may just want to hang onto it.” And go for it he did on the last regularity of the day, creating a huge splash as he and navigator and wife Melanie powered through a ford. Melanie; “ I didn’t get wet but I was looking at all the photographers on the other side thinking, I hope they get wet!”
Probably the next biggest splash came from the 1936 Jaguar SS of classic motor cycle racers Mike Farrall and Charlie Williams, grinning all the way through the steam as they came out on the other side. Charlie was still smiling at the finish today despite struggling with some of the navigation; “This morning I was feeling more nervous than before any bike race!” 2019 HERO-ERA Champion navigator Roger Bricknell was happily helping Charlie at the lunch halt with some sage tips!
Peter Moore and Angus Rochford are lying 25th overall in their open cockpit 1936 Riley Special, cutting quite a dash in their bear hats. They happily splashed through the ford as fast as they dared. Peter; “It was fantastic in the ford, we didn’t stall! It’s been a good day so well done to Angus as it’s his first time as a navigator, he has done really well.” What did Angus think was the toughest part of the job? “When there are lots of little turns all together and you only have a split second to react to each one, we also have to shout instructions which can be difficult to hear when you have the bear hats on, so I will probably lose my voice by the end of the week.”
Peter; “The car is going really well. The front brakes don’t work but the rears are quite effective. When we are on the tests you can pull the rear brake handle and spin around the cones quite well, it also has a pre selector gearbox so you can change gear quite quickly. I’m looking forward to the tests on the final leg.”
It was sad to see Andy Simpson and Roger Bricknell’s Mini Clubman GT at the end of a tow rope after battery failure when they had just claimed third place.
It was however ironic that it was journalist and photographer Will Broadhead who was towing them as he had sought and received mechanical assistance himself earlier in the day when he slipped his HERO-ERA vehicle into a ditch. Fortunately it was without damage to himself, although the same cannot be said of the battered wing of the Toyota Hillux on which a little sign now reads ‘ Carefully re designed by Will Broadhead’.
Photos by Will Broadhead