Casa Hotel, Chesterfield
The overall winners of the HERO Summer Trial 2019 are:
1. Steve and Thomas Robertson (10) – MG PB
2. Julian and Giles Pitts (37) – Ford Lotus Cortina MK 1
3. Alexander and Joanna Geigy (22) – Triumph TR3A
Clerk of the Course Nick Reeves who has been responsible for planning the event from the beginning added his words of welcome;” It’s great to see you all, we hope you enjoy the event that we have been working on it since March, it’s good to see it all coming together. The Summer Trial will start easy but increase in intensity. For example, the controls will be easy to see today but they won’t be later on!”
Nick handed over to HERO event Competition Liaison Officer, Seren Whyte assisted by her highly successful and experienced navigator sister Elise, who imparted their joint expertise. This was hugely appreciated by the many beginners and intermediate crews who lapped up their advice prior to the start.
Tom Robertson navigating father Steve in their 1936 MG PB said; “ That was very useful, especially as it is my first HERO event. I was a late replacement for Steve’s navigator who couldn’t make it.” The pre-event briefing must have worked as the pair ended the day first overall!
Danes Esbern and Asger Jakobsen driving their 1966 Triumph TR4A were equally happy to get some pre-event tips. Esbern; “The briefing was really helpful as this is our second ever event, our first was the Summer Trial last year! We loved it so much we are back. Asger; “Last year was enjoyable but also stressful, particularly the first day when we made a few mistakes which we hope to avoid this year.” They certainly managed that as they were delighted to end the day third overall.
Nigel Mason and Ian Marston in their 1973 MGB were also happy to be back for more. Nigel “This is our sixth HERO event. My first ever event was the Summer Trial with my son, that was great but I must say it’s good to see so many new people out on the event.
For some, it was lastminute.com preparation as engines for their rally cars were only finished last night! Bent and Martyn Jakobsen, UK domiciled Danes in their 1934 Alvis Silver Eagle Special, worked late last night, Bent; “We only just finished rebuilding the engine around 10.30pm last night.” “But it seems to be working well” added son Martyn. Clearly! Father and son duo were sixth overall.
Darren Everitt and Susan Dixon arrived just before scrutineering to visit the Technical Assistance team as Darren too had only finished rebuilding his engine the night before of their 1965 Triumph 2000 Mk 1; “ I only had two hours sleep last night fitting our spare engine, it was all a bit of a rush which left a part pushing on the steering and the horn wouldn’t work.!” The team made a few adjustments and the Triumph sailed through scrutineering.
A three day event covering 400 miles, the first ‘gentle’ day covered three Regularities and two Tests on former national rally champion Steve Perez’ estate. A treat was for crews to be able to view his collection of fabulous rally cars which includes his short-wheelbase Audi Quattro S1 whilst scrutineering their cars in the farmyard of the same estate.
Crews were treated to some spectacular scenery on a glorious English summer’s day as the cars traversed the beautiful Peak District National Park. They weren’t just dazzled by the wonderful countryside as they circled the super Danflask Reservoir, but also the names of some villages such as Wigtwizzle!
However, just as some crews were really getting into the swing of the Summer Trial the very nature of the countryside caught them out. A slow herd of cows were being ushered across the narrow lane holding up at least six cars on the second Regularity. They had to wait patiently for the lumbering traffic to graze its way through the opposite gate, but the clock was ticking!
To add to the timing woes on their very first event and Regularity rally, Timothy Downs who was stuck behind the cattle with his navigator Roger Annis in their 1964 Austin Healey 3000 Mk 111, then needed the Technical Assistance crew’s attention for their exhaust. The exhaust box and pipes were already hanging off supported by string, but they got back into the action to finish fifth in class at day’s end.
Although they are not eligible for overall results, some of the top Masters crews are out on the event either tuning up their navigational skills or shaking down their cars for halo HERO events later in the year. Paul Dyas who has already scored a podium finish at the HERO One event earlier this year, is shaking down his Volvo for Rally of the Tests and Le Jog later in the year. His navigator is Le Jog Gold Medal winner Amy Henchoz who already proved her worth today. “This morning I wasn’t so good, knowing where the controls are and then the countdown, but Amy shouted them at me this afternoon and we started to get zeros! We got a ten second penalty but it must have just been a mistake as Amy put in a query and it was soon sorted out. She is certainly proving her worth, we are first Master after day one!”
Second overall today went to the very happy crew of Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickens in their Mercedes Benz 190E. “ we really loved the Tests, it was great touching the odd fence along the way!” Said Malcolm. Anita, whilst incredibly happy with the result was thinking about day two; “The pressure is really on now!”
A great performance too from Bronwyn Burrell and Suzanne Barker in ‘Puff the Magic Wagon’ Bron’s original Maxi that she competed in on the World Cup Rally 1970. The pair were second prior to the last tests of the day where power proved crucial, but they still ended the day seventh, a brilliant result. “There’s still a long way to go” added Bron.
Finally, credit has to be given to the absolute ‘newbie’ crew of Porsche 911 of Damian and Sarah Lawrence, not least for their powerful full throttle, squealing start on today’s Tests. “ I loved it! It’s not all about speed though, as with the navigation and averages it can be quite intellectual which is why Sarah is doing well with the navigation. The trip meter is a godsend, once you can get your head around it! Said Damian. Sarah;” It can be tricky at times, there was definitely a name of a place on the road book very close to another and it threw us! But it has been a brilliant day with a nice group of people. We are looking forward to day two”
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 30thoverall 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.
After three days, 400 miles, 12 Regularities and eight Tests conducted in the glorious Derbyshire Dales, father and son Steve and Thomas Robertson were triumphant in the 2019 Summer Trial. In an event designed to encourage competitor development, Thomas proved that youth and relative inexperience can win whilst Steve showed that a 1936 MG can still show younger cars the way to the podium!
Winner Steve Robertson: “ Yes we managed to keep the younger cars at bay but the trick is to keep the engine spinning. The only issue we had during the three days was the fan flattening the battery in the hot weather. The weather was nice and cool today which helped us. Thomas did a super job, he only got lost once which was great considering his inexperience.”
Thomas Robertson; “ I’m pretty happy, I got a bottle of champagne too which is always nice, but it’s been a lot of fun, I have really enjoyed the challenge.” When asked if he would now take the hot seat permanently alongside his father he replied; “ I’ll leave that decision to my father!” Thomas later received the prestigious Newcomer Rally Award for his great performance.
Second place overall fell to another father and son team, the Yorkshire crew of Julian and Giles Pitts in their glorious 1965 Ford Lotus Cortina.
Giles demonstrated great coolness and calm calculation as he and his father made up for some mistakes, moving up to fourth by this morning then vaulting to second place by the finish. But as Julian explained it wasn’t easy; “The competition was intense, we just both said if we can keep on the right road it will help, then the rest should fall into place. We get on well, we had a great time and the car was tremendous. I have co owned it for around fifteen years, it normally doesn’t let us down, it’s been a brilliant car.”
Giles Pitts was, “relieved” after his efforts helped the family crew to get onto the podium when they thought they had lost time on the final afternoon, but Giles found some aspects quite challenging; “Trying to do the maths and the speed tables when several junctions are approaching is quite difficult, but we got there, and we haven’t fallen out.”
The Anglo Swiss crew of Joanna and Alexander Geigy were really pleased to finish third overall in their 1959 Triumph TR3A after some problems on the second Test of the day. “ The result didn’t come from our earlier experience in the event. Last night we were lying ninth overall, then in the second Test we smashed a cone and both thought that’s it! But that made us relax a bit as the pressure was off, but it actually helped us to get this result, we are both very pleased!”
Joanna; “Yes we had some luck but also it was also down to great teamwork. It was a very enjoyable event, the Derbyshire countryside is beautiful, I really enjoyed going past Chatsworth House, you could see it in the distance. The last time I was in the Derbyshire Dales was when I was on a geography field trip in my third year at school and it rained all week, so this was a whole new experience for me!”
HERO Cup Champion 2018 Paul Bloxidge, just managed to take the Masters Class award navigated by Martyn Taylor in their VW Golf GTi. In a great battle with Paul Dyas and Amy Henchoz’s Volvo Amazon which raged throughout the event, the Volvo team blinked first after leading until the final afternoon, as Paul Dyas explained. “We took a wrong slot on the final Regularity and then made a mistake on the final test”. The intense rivalry between Henchoz and Taylor included Martyn producing Amy’s door panel name identification in her nickname which helped to ratchet up the rivalry, but in the end, they lost the Masters lead by just four seconds. Amy was analytical afterwards: “It was a crisis of confidence.” To rub salt into the wounds Martyn Taylor was awarded ‘Best performance on Regularities.’
There were some further hard earned class awards announced at the prize giving on Sunday afternoon at the Casa Hotel Rally HQ. Class 2 was won by Guy Symons and David Watson who had managed to recover their Riley 1.5 after it boiled over. The Class 5 win was commiseration for Kelvin Bromley and Alan Pettit in their MGB having led the event overall from Day 2 until the final afternoon when as Alan said; “I messed up and we lost a minute” but Kelvin was philosophical, “We missed the win but we enjoyed a great rally!”
To make up for their disappointment on last year’s Summer Trial when their Ferrari blew its’ engine, David and Sally Ward completed their newcomer return after their second ever event on HERO One in March, with a class 7 win and 13th overall.
Andy Simpson and Roger Bricknell climbed back to 6th overall in their Mini Clubman GT winning their class after also leading overall for a period, showing just how competitive this event has been. Another fine performance came from father and son John and Matthew Vincent in their immaculate Alfa Romeo, finishing in the top ten. They climbed 21 places on Day 2 but ‘messed up a bit today’. Young Matthew won a Special Award for ‘Highest Placed Navigator Under 25’ for his efforts.
As part of the HERO policy of encouraging young talent into the sport, there was also an award for Highest Placed Driver Under 25’ which went to Chloe Wood who came all the way from Australia to reward her navigator father with the prize as she expertly drove their Lotus Cortina.
Twenty crews completely new to the sport enjoyed a great three days motorsport, amongst them Michael Goodwin and Mitali Agarwal in their Porsche 911. “In the last couple of regularities we were starting to get it together” said Michael. Mitali concluded; “The navigation and map work was quite hard but we started to learn. Everyone was so helpful, we really enjoyed it so we will be back for more.”
Nick Reeves, Clerk of the Course for the Summer Trial summed up his feelings on the event. “ It was really satisfying to be able to put on such a great event in such beautiful part of the world and enjoy it, coexisting and respecting all the other outdoor pursuits going on at the same time. A big thanks, to our team who PR’d the route and to all our marshals organized by Chris Warboys. Chris Perez was very generous in allowing us to use his estate once again, plus big thanks to all the HERO team who have helped me put on such a great event designed in the spirit of competitive development.”
The Managing Director of HERO Events Patrick Burke who drove in the event navigated by his 12 year old son Henry, was actually practicing what he preaches. Patrick; “ We have a mission to help youth and novices into the sport because we really care, it is the way forward.” The last word has to go to Henry Burke; “Dad was quite good at driving, but what I enjoyed most was going fast on the tests, maybe when I take up the sport I’ll show him how to do it properly.”