In a final twist to an epic twentieth running of Le Jog, first time navigators claim the Gold Medals. Tomas de Vargas Machuca / Leigh Powley end off a superb year for Powley, the tears of joy as he was greeted by father Roger at John O’Groats a sight to see. Mark Godfrey/Martyn Taylor take the second Gold Medal rounding off a year that has seen a hat trick of wins for both Godfrey & Taylor. The final Gold Medal goes to Karsten Weber & Thomas Koerner in the Team Rocket Science BMW.
Welcome to the 20th running of Europe’s toughest classic reliability trial, Le Jog!
Over the next three and a half days we will bring the most up to date information on this event to you via this page, please be aware that some of the places we travel through have little or no mobile coverage, we will get the info to you as soon as we are able.
At 07:32 Gerd Buehler & Jose Romao de Sosa left the start line at Land’s End in their 1938 BMW 327/28 to start out on an adventure that will see competitors take in some of the sections and driving tests that were competed on in the very first Le Jog in 1993. HERO are delighted to have John Brown with us , the man who conceived the idea of this event and the navigation ‘Jogularity’ used to get crews from the very south west tip to the most north easterly point of the United Kingdom. The test starting out from Land’s End is a very familiar one to the crews who regularly take part in the event, none more so than Cumbria’s Robert & Susan McClean who have once again brought their Rover P4 -100 to Le Jog. This vehicle is probably the most campaigned vehicle on the event, taking part and completing no fewer than xx Le Jog’s, winning “Spirit of the Rally” Last year as well as a certain Gold Medal back in 2006. Looping around the complex at Land’s End, the first few cars take in the test-with its panoramic views across the Atlantic in darkness. Add a bit more about who did what. Heading out of Land’s End, there is really only one direction in general, heading north up the B3306, Le Jog 20 winds its way through St Just & Botallack before the first regularity starts at Morvah. This is a gentle affair with just three timing points over a distance of just under 15 ½ miles to allow competitors new and old to find their feet. This in fact was identical to the first Le Jog in 1993, albeit with the timing points changed slightly! The second test takes place at Cornwall College as Le Jog passes through Camborne, a secret check before MC2 catching many crews out. The second regularity started south west of the curiously named Indian Queens. The town in fact turns out to be named after a local Coaching House situated there between 1780 and 1960 when it was sadly demolished. It was here the event started in earnest, 21 speed changes in just over 19 miles and a not as map triangle on the second timing point meant the relatively easy run out had ended, by-passing St Columb Major and St Breock Downs windmill farm the regularity ended at Wadebridge, throwing the crews straight into a following test at the Royal Cornwall Showground. Along the A30 sees the very first passage check of the day at Jamaica Inn, Bolventor, this now Grade II listed building has a dark and sinister past, a base not only for smugglers, but also the prose of Daphne du Maurier in her novel of the same name. A very slippery test 4 at the picturesque Werrington Park caused many crews consternation, Dave Bryan/Andy Ballantyne and Andy Lane/Iain Tullie having excursions into the scenery but keeping going. Lunch was served at what has become a Le Jog favourite in Betty Cottles Inn before a regularity and test to the east of Winkleigh passed the event through Devon heading north over Exmoor in a none competitive section, but having passage controls at The Stag’s Head Inn at Filleigh, again a feature on the 1993 Le Jog. The journey over Exmoor was different to last year where it was used competitively, the schedule meaning no time for sightseeing was available before the final tests in daylight took place at Porlock. The test was reversed from previous years, full of the delightful cream teas supplied by the Porlock Ladies. Crews tackled one of the steepest climbs of the event as they attempted to climb the old toll road at Porlock.
As dusk fell, the first cars headed out of Devon and into Somerset, this was to be a fairly long none competitive section, but in the true spirit of Le Jog, there were many secret checks to find and have the all-important signature placed on the card. A passage check south of Bridgewater gave way to the M4 and a rest period for the first driver, crews had been competing since 7:30 with few breaks and the chance to ease off before the upcoming night section in Wales was a welcome one. Test 9 at Gordano services meant that competitors had to work for their evening meal, a rest of over an hour and twenty minutes allowed them to make adjustments and take some rest before the event crossed over the Severn Road Bridge and into Wales. Bob and Sue Mc Clean strggled here, the longest competing LeJoggers taking a bad test and losing points. The event was now starting to get trickier as darkness fell, Regularity E, named ‘Trader’s Territory’ took in a big chunk of the route used on the Ross Traders event, as did the following section, Gremlins. Traders was the first to score big in terms of time lost, 15 speed changes in a little over 19 miles entertained crews, the main loop coming around Gaer-Fawr, a tricky slot and some LWR triangles taking time from the majority of those taking part. South of Raglan and finishing just before Clytha Park the regularity came to an end, it was clear that the night section was going to be very demanding for all involved. First casualties after the restart were Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan, a wrong slot dropping them time and causing them to lose Gold status through missing controls. It seems that mechanical maladies were causing problems also, new leaders after Gordano, Nick Jarvis/Ryan Pickering (Ford Escort RS1600) lost all their navigational instrumentation, as did Tomas de Vargas Machuca/Leigh Powley, the Porsche pairing competing from Gordano with no trip and a speedo drive that had broken at the gearbox end. The Usk valley was a heavy feature in the first part of the evening, as Le Jog reached mid Wales two of the original passage checks from 1993 were there, the Coach and Horses at Cwm Cranon and Pencelli Arms in the village of the same name just over five miles apart meant the navigator was out and running his evening meal off! Gremlins took in the eastern side of Epynt, starting just to the east of Brecon, this five timing point- seven speed change section made use of the steep hills and contours of the area to take penalties from crews over a little under 19 miles, the pressure was starting to mount as Le Jog passed the 325 miles barrier a little before 21:20 hrs on Saturday. Clare Nedin/Rachel Wakefield had to contend with some very thick mud as the Cortina Crew slipped off the road slightly, a valiant pusht by Rachel was rewarded by a heavy right boot and a covering of mud from Clare! Clare and Rachel made it to the Main Control at Rhayader we are pleased to report.
Switching from the Usk to the Wye Valley, Regularity G was what seemed a fairly innocuous section, running adjacent to the A470 just north of Rhayader, the natural Topography and ‘nadgery’ nature of the roads took time aplenty, finishing at Llangurig and passing through Llanidloes the rally named section continued with a run over ‘AGBO’, a nod to the famous road rally of the 1950’s and 60’s which formed part of the Motoring News Silver Star Championship of the day. There was no need for tricky navigation, the route itself being the challenge, timing points situated at the crest of sharp climbs along with steep hairpin bends all taking precious seconds out of competitors. However, a hairpin left onto a farm track was a real sting in the tail, the tight nature of the farmyard it passed through near Staylittle catching many out. The final regularity section of the night was to be one of the most daunting, just as the clock struck midnight, the first cars left Dinas Mawddwy and headed up the Dyfi Valley, almost straight away a tight square right over a bridge had some floundering, missing the turn and having to spin round to keep on route, crossing the Dyfi and just a mile further on, a hairpin left on a road not shown on 1:50,000 maps was another feature to catch the unwary, the timing point situated half way along this ‘white’ road. Passing through Llanymawddwy the second timing point was situated just after a tight hairpin right-even more tricky as it was whilst climbing a steep gradient just before Bwlch Y Groes and Waun y Gadfa junction. Crossing the Waun, the road dropped steeply onto the shores of Lake Vyrnwy before pushing on through Foel Goch and Penlyn Forest before the finish just outside the town of Bala. Just over 21 miles on some of the most demanding roads in the United Kingdom was exhausting, but the final section was yet to come. A short road section and final fuel halt at Corwen, scene of many a night rally and RAC past took Le Jog into the final competitive element of the night in Clerk of Course Guy Woodcock’s back yard, this was to be a series of 4 minute sections timed at an average of 30MPH, the terrain and lanes fighting against the crews. Eleven continuous sections with one passage check to the west of Bettws Gwerfil Goch brought the first full day of Le Jog to an end, passing south east of Clocaenog and Clawdd newydd, this was road rallying at its finest, tight, narrow lanes with steep climbs and blind crests to catch the unwary, a myriad of roads that even in the middle of the night and after almost 450 miles needed the utmost concentration from both sides of the car, this was a true test of endurance. Finishing the section just outside Ruthin, the run to the overnight (or few hours rest!) was welcomed by all, passing Moel Famau and overlooking Llanferres the A494 took crews to Ewloe for a brief respite and to be ready for the push up the spine of the UK tomorrow.
Already Le Jog has earned its reputation as the toughest classic reliability trial in Europe, we will continue in a few hours through some stunning scenery in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland before making Carlisle in the early evening. Just 4 ½ hours after reaching Chester, Le jog 2014 takes to the road again, after a stunning night through north Wales, overnight Gold Medal holders Tomas de Vargas Machuca/Leigh Powley. Traditionally, the route on the Sunday of the event is a more relaxed affair, this does not mean that competitors can relax, far from it as there is just under 300 miles to complete tonight before reaching Carlisle. The run out to the first regularity this morning is quite a lengthy motorway section, this has been broken up by two driving tests-and a totally new site to Le Jog was used for the first time at Lymm Service station, just off the M6 near Warrington. The site is a truck stop, but is regularly used for autotests and the like. Heading further north up the M6 and by-passing industrial Lancashire, Le Jog runs through the oldest section of motorway in the UK briefly, before turning off and heading towards Blackburn. Samlesbury Aerodrome is now home to the Eurofighter-Typhoon, but in 1993 it was the Panavia Tornado GR4’s birth place, many famous aircraft have been built here before the final assembly in another plant close by, Lightning, Canberra and Hawk are three models that also shared the site in times recent. Quite fittingly after leaving Chester, the first regularity of the day starts at Ribchester, also home to a Roman fort, this small village was strategic in those times. The roads from now change from fast carriageways to narrow but flowing moorland and fell lanes, climbing up onto the backbone of the country, the Pennines. This first section was used in the 1993 edition and is regarded as a classic piece of rallying road, passing the ancient Huntigndon Hall and passing the famous forest of Longridge Fell, used in many stage events, the roads rise and fall, hugging the contours of the foothills of the Pennines. After passing through Bashall Town, where a tricky long way round a loop caught one or two of those yet to wake up, the route pushes on over Cow Ark, and drops hairpin right in front of the beautiful Inn at Whitewell. Burholme Bridge is the first ‘gotcha’ of the day a not as map triangle easy to overlook and sail straight by. Skirting Dunsop Bridge, the village’s claim to fame is that it is the gravitational centre of the UK, and believe it or not, it was the recipient of the 100, 000th Telephone Box in the country! The regularity is named ‘Trough of Bowland’, and it is this section of road the event crosses now, to try and read this road from a map is difficult, its many twists and turns unable to be caught by the cartographers at this scale. This regularity section has 29 speed changes over its 37.5 miles with no fewer than nine timing points to catch crews out. A left turn at Marshaw takes Le Jog over the route of many a past RAC Rally over Hawthornthwaite Fell before dropping into Abbeystead to emerge through a ‘hole in the wall’ junction before heading over Jubilee Tower and turning right in Quernmore Village. An arrow straight kilometre and a half leads through Crossgill Village and the once infamous Haylot Farm White, recently resurfaced and a bridge over the ford now in place. This monumental regularity ends just outside the village of Wray and exits Lancashire into North Yorkshire via High and Low Bentham to a traditional Passage Check at the New Inn, Clapham.
Since leaving Chester the event has covered no less than 118 miles to this point, there is little respite for competitors as the landscape changes yet again into Limestone screes and Tarns. Climbing through the dales and fells of North Yorkshire, three passage controls on a none competitive section takes the event through Helwith Bridge, Arncliffe and Kettlwell before visiting The Thwaite Arms at Horsehouse, although this was none competitive, the average speed was set to make the passage of vehicles lively and with no time for dawdling! The Black Swan at Leyburn provides Lunch and a welcome break for the crews, enabling the HERO support crews to repair some of the ailing Vehicles. Following lunch, the event headed further north east into the Catterick Army Complex for two regularities that were split by two short tests. The first regularity was named Newfoundland England in a nod to the 1993 running where the same area was used, this year the roads were all on private land, allowing the use of smaller distances between timing points meaning competitors really had to push on. The same applied for the following regularity, Halfpenny House Moor, slightly shorter than its predecessor at 5.78 miles long, but still with all timing points on private land. Passage checks at Arkengarthdale & Tan Hill took the event briefly into Cumbria, the light falling as crews dropped back into County Durham and the start of Romaldskirk Moor regularity. Elatively short by Le Jog standards at just under 12 miles, the trickiest timing point was situated on a bridge to the east of Hury Reservoir. Crossing the bridge to find a steep uphill right hand bend to a junction left, this section caught many out. Fairly straight roads around East Briscoe and Currick Rigg brought the section to an end just before Romaldkirk. The Three Tuns Inn at Egglestone was the final passage check of daylight, heading over Bollihope Common, the event reached Stanhope Ford at just after 16:15, already in twilight, the ford seemed a daunting place to be for Nico van Dord, his Alfa coming to a spluttering halt and drowning. Happily, the little GTV started and didn’t need the recovery vehicle. A large crowd gathered to witness not only the cars crossing the ford, but also a fine Salmon run up the rapids. Two slippery tests at the old quarry complex at Eastgate let the drivers show their skills in the dark, the tests being the usual long and flowing affairs.
The final two regularities took Le Jog from the east side of The Pennines over into the west via regularities taking in Allendale, Nenthead, and Leadgate before the final passage check of the day at Hartside Pass Café. There was no respite for the weary competitors as the 19.6 miles of Eden Valley regularity brought them to Carlisle. Dropping off the side of Haresceugh Fell, a loop to the south of the village of the same name by-passed Benwick and Staffield before heading north. Hornwrangle, Cumwhitton and the finish of the reg at Broadwath brought the section to an end, it wasn’t the final action of the day however, as a test at Hadrian’s Park ended proceedings. The total (official) mileage today was 298.27, leaving us at 747.77 miles, a little over half way, tomorrow sees the final two sections as we start off from Carlisle at 07:30 and head through central and western Scotland before the night sections start out of Kyle of Lochalsh.
Setting out from Carlisle at 07:30 the Crown & Mitre Hotel, Carlisle. The civic re-start was well received and a large group of spectators had gathered to wish competitors well, Steven Bowditch, Mayor of Carlisle waved the first competitors away.An easy run out along the A74(M) took crews to Eaglesfield where the ‘Corrie Water’ regularity took place. This was just under 24 miles in length with no fewer than 19 speed changes over five timing points, it was a rude awakening for some! To allow crews to see more of The Highlands in daylight, a transit section ran for just over an hour up the motorway, exiting the M74 at Larkhall pushing north east and ending up just outside Airdrie. A long-time favourite with Le Jog, Forrestburn is a testing hillclimb that has been enjoyed many times previously by competitors. Two short regularities ushered Le Jog over the Kilsyth Hills and west of Stirling, the route had changed now from industrial Scotland into a much more scenic setting. Callander is a small town to the east of Loch Lomond, from here the Highlands start to unfold, the roads and tracks around it had that winter feel in the late morning weather. Just outside Callander and past Loch Lubnaig is Lochearnhead, a test on the Edinchip Estate saw the day’s mileage reach 160 and the scenery become even more beautiful. Lunch was taken at Killin Hotel in the town of the same name, this was to be the final ‘easy’ part of the route today. The first regularity was cancelled due to a large downfall of snow, partially blocking Glen Lyon, through the Bridge of Balgie and on to the next section, Scotland was showing the sheer splendour of Carn Gorm and Carn Mairg before the end of the leg at Fortingall. The following section passed through the Appin of Dull and Tummel Bridge. The following section was used in the first event in 1993, but with the addition of wind farms in the area, the road has been improved to ease out the hairpins that look over the village of Trinafour. These steep and twisting roads took time off the crews attempting them as nightfall hastened towards us, giving competitors some final glimpses of the Highlands before dark. Joining the A9, Le Jog moved swiftly along with a fuel stop and refreshment break at Dalwhinnie, home of the distillery of the same name. Turning off the A9 and hitting the A86, a short hop brought the event to one of its newest sections, a regularity known as Monarch of the Glen. Named after the TV show from the early 2000’s that was filmed in the area, this 8.64 mile regularity is sure to become a hit, the surface changing from tarmac to gravel and taking in six timing points along its course meant that no let-up was allowed. This was the final ‘competitive’ section of the afternoon, competitors now made the journey along Glen Spean, finding brief respite at Invergarry where fuel and a brief refreshment break before heading further north. To keep the navigators awake, several route checks placed in lay-by and roadside loops were placed, recording the names on code boards to ensure that the pressure didn’t slip before passing through Glen Shiel and finally making the Kyle of Lochalsh for a well deserved break. Many crews had a quick evening meal and tried to sleep before the final push, on official mileage tipped just over 1071 miles to this point, the weather had been fairly kind to us, with a mixture of ice and snow of the morning giving way to bright sunshine and showers, one thing for sure, the night would not be any easier as Le Jog entered its final leg.
Leaving Kyle of Lochalsh and heading north east for a short while to Strathcarron, Le Jog 2014 entered its final scheduled 12 hours, in those hours the crews would travel no less than 327 miles to reach John O’Groats over some of the most testing and isolated roads in Europe. This is where the event can really be won or lost. Scotland’s answer to the Stelvio beckoned, a trip over Bealach Na Ba, or Pass of the Cattle, the highest pass in the UK, a place where the wind is never still and the hairpins are difficult to tackle even in the summer. Four timing points would test the crews, before a descent down on what has been described as one of the most beautiful roads in Europe, again, in absolute darkness into Applecross Village. The road from here clings to the side of a sheer cliff at points, a meagre strip of land separating the competitors from the sea as they make their way onward toward Loch Torridon. Shieldaig was familiar to some crews from the 2013 running, the timing points shifted into cunning places to catch those who were starting to feel the effects of this mammoth route. Passing out of Loch Torridon, the A896 gave some respite after the narrow and twisty lanes of the previous regularity. However, even though they are classed as an A road, the tight nature and topography of these roads mean not a second to relax-these are really demanding roads in daylight, never mind coming up past midnight. Passing by Loch Luichart and heading almost into Strathpeffer on the east side of Scotland, Le Jog turns north west and heads up to Ullapool via Tarvie Services where a final chip collection before John O’ Groats takes place. The fast open roads of the A 835 a welcome break as crews enter Ullapool and Lochbroom Garage Services, the owners not only staying up just to welcome the crews and provide sandwiches and drinks, but also the welcome use of their extensive repair facilities, should they be needed. Two regularities follow, both being used in 2013, these are now into the small hours and form the narrowest and twistiest part of the entire route. The second section has over 13 steep section arrows in 4 miles, at 4 am these will be a challenge to any crew. A short circular loop in Sutherland to the east of Handa Island brings the weary crews into Durness, the most north westerly town in the UK, crews are still 8 hours away from John O Groats and our old friends at Mackay & Sons Spar are a welcome distraction before the final push. A series of route checks to keep the crews on the go over Kyle of Tongue before the penultimate regularity of the event at Skerray, with just five timing points, the nature of the road meaning taking time from competitors is relatively simple, one of the few loops on the event, it means those close to their time can cut a section out, albeit being heavily penalised.
After fuel in Thurso, the final section of a truly epic Le Jog is in sight, the last action a 17.59 mile regularity on some uncannily straight roads that take the event past one of the most northerly water features (Loch of Mey) and literally past the front door of the Castle of Mey, once northern Scottish home to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother and now a place of an annual visit from Prince Charles.Not allowing crews a second of respite, the final sting in the tail was a loop round private property at the very end of the regularity, it was this feature that decided the Gold Medal. From here a final timing point at Gills, leaving the emotional and exhausted crews to make the four mile run to John O’ Groats. Le Jog XXth Anniversary where they were greeted with the traditional piped welcome in gale force winds and horizontal rain at times.