The overall winners of the Summer Trial 2021 are:
1. Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane – BMW 323i
3. Andy Simpson and Roger Bricknell – Mini Clubman GT
An eclectic mix of vintage to modern classics from 1925 to 1985 started Leg One from the Holiday Inn Telford on Friday for three tests and four regularities under the scorching Shropshire sun. After 92 miles of concentrated navigation, fifteen year old Oli Waldock, the youngest ever HERO-ERA podium sitter, had navigated his grandfather and 2018 HERO-ERA Cup champion Paul Bloxidge, to a superb provisional first overall in their VW Golf GTi.
The heat brought the cream to the top as twice runners up Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane in their BMW 323i are lying second, hoping for a shot at the top slot over the next two days of competition. Showing that the big guns are out on the Summer Trial sniffing the podium, former champion driver and navigator Roger Bricknell navigated Andy Simpson’s Mini Clubman GT to a fine provisional third place overall.
With the heat came the dust across the airfields and lanes of Shropshire. The first test at High Ercall Airfield had history to match some of the cars on the event. In 1946 an Australian pilot bought a former Halifax bomber that was stationed at the same airfield, then charged passengers to take a flight with him to Australia. That marked the first post war commercial flight between the UK and Australia.
The test provided a great start to the Summer Trial as the cars literally took off, many crews unleashing their rally machines for the first time in well over a year. Later tests provided a mix a track and link roads for drivers to fling their cars around after crossing Shropshire trying to keep to the average speeds set by the organisers in the four regularities.
The grandest of the them all was the last regularity with the start set on the fine wide grass boulevard leading to the stately Chillington Hall. Although the road was loose and slightly rough before turning right onto tarmac in front of the hall, instead of the rally cars, it would have been quite a sight in 1724 when the horse drawn carriages made their sedate progress down the arrow straight drive to visit the landed gentry in the grand house at the end. The Grade 1 listed house was designed by Francis Smith in the early 1700’s whilst the lakes and gardens were designed by the star landscaper of the time, Capability Brown. For all it’s beauty and tranquilness, the Chillington regularity did provide a navigational sting in the tail for the unwary, catching out a few MGB’s who were spotted circling a crossroads in tandem.
For Pete and Jo John Johnson in their 1983 Austin Maestro it proved to be a good first leg as they finished fifth overall. Pete; “ We had a lot of traffic this morning but the last three regularities were good!”
John and Tracy King seemed happy enough in their 1977 Triumph Dolomite Sprint as they were ninth overall in the provisional overnight standings. John; “We were doing OK, just frustratingly being a little bit out, on the cusp really, but we did mange a zero! There were a lot of people out watching, that’s always good for us as we know we are on the right road!”
A crew who kept the local spectators gawking was Sally and David Ward in their 1974 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, quite a site through the Shropshire villages as they waved back to the locals. Like John and Tracy King, the Wards started as complete novices a couple of years ago but have progressed well to the intermediate level, showing their skills in 10th place overnight.
There are three contenders in the Masters Class for experienced and winning crews. Stuart and Emily Anderson who are lying second in their 1937 Derby Bentley did not have an easy day, Stuart; “We got held up on three of the regularities, but you come to expect it at this time of year, but really it’s just great to be out.”
Bill Cleyndert is out in his 1925 Bentley navigated by 2018 Golden Roamer Champion Ian Canavan. This car was the first chassis that W.O. Bentley installed a four and a half litre engine in and has been on the Peking to Paris in 2016 with Bill at the wheel. He had a lot of fun in the Gobi desert in the car but not so much fun with it during the first leg of the Summer Trial. Bill; “We came across a herd of cows, then two waring locals who couldn’t pass each other on a narrow lane so we just had to wait. Unfortunately there is now a little problem with the car but wea are trying to fix it.”
Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham are leading the class in their 1962 Porsche 356B, Stephen; “It’s been a brilliant day, it’s so good to be back rallying. My day has been easy really, just following the other two Masters. We all got held up on the last regularity, we each lost around three minutes so it was all back to square one.”
Paul Day and Alun Jones, 1963 MGB, Paul; “ It was going OK until the new gearbox we are running here for the first time overheated in the tests. It got through OK but we had to wait for it to cool down so we could get the gears again. Alun; “We are on the phone to the guy that built it now hoping we can get something done!”
Patrick and Christopher Shaw, 1970 MGB GT, Patrick; “I’ve come a long way for the Summer Trial, 450 miles from Land’s End! And yes we did do Le Jog five years ago, it was on our door step!” Christopher; “It was our first event, it was only afterwards that they told us it was the toughest in Europe!
“We had a bad start this morning, the gear lever broke off in my hand, I must have eaten too many Wheetabix this morning! We could only join back in after the first coffee halt but we found an incredibly obliging garage who welded it back up for us, then we had a great afternoon. We are very pleased to be back in the event, we thoroughly enjoy it.”
Richard Leggett and Julian Green, 1976 Alfa Romeo Alfetta, Julian; “We had a great day, we were at a Timing Point when a very nice lady started to talk to us! I was sure I knew her and it turned out we had worked together in Norwich five years ago but she now works in this part of the world! It seems she had been chasing the Alfa to have a look.”
Richard; “It’s been hard work with no power steering, but still a good day. I don’t think we will attack tomorrow as we need the practice for the Classic Marathon in Spain and Portugal in July!”
Peter and Kit Moore, 1936 Riley Special, Peter; “The fuel pump played up a bit last night but we are going to risk it as we have a spare in the back. My youngest son Kit is with me on his very first rally, he’s the clever one. I brought my nephew on this event last year and we got best in class so I have got great expectations!” Kit; ”Well let’s see how it goes, lets see if I can prove him right! I have had a couple of lessons from another navigator so it should be interesting!”
Rally personality and 1970 World Cup competitor Bronwyn Burrell is being navigated by Suzanne Barker in the Summer Trial in the very Austin Maxi that took part in 1970, ‘Puff the Magic Wagon.’
Bron; “It’s just so good to be back, honestly it’s just like being back with the family!”
Ian Thomas and Peter Dyer, 1962 Austin Healey 3000 Mk 11. Ian; “It is so lovely to be out rallying, the sun is shining, were on the Summer Trial, I’m in my shorts what could be better? We were on the Novice Trial a few weeks ago, we were doing well then threw it all away, se we’d like to do a bit better here. The more events we do, the more we learn.”
Peter; “We nearly didn’t make it across from the Isle of White as a drunkard on the ferry was threatening to throw himself over board before the ferry even left! Amazingly it got sorted and we even got across a bit earlier!”
Barbara and Daniel Weidemann, Lancia Fulvia Sport, Zagato. Daniel;” The car hasn’t moved since the Malts last year, it has just passed it’s MOT! We are really pleased to be here as we just managed to get a late entry.”
Barbara; “It’s great to be out again and the car is going well. We have had the car since 2007, it’s first event was the first Icelandic Challenge, the Lancia continues to go from strength to strength.”
William and Simon Garrett, 1978 TVR Taimar; Simon; “I’m not sure we are ready, the car is, it’s fully prepped, we have just got to work on our navigational skills.” William; “I don’t think we have used the car since last year!”
Steve Farmer and John Gearing; 1977 MGB GTV8. John; “It is fantastic to be back and on the Summer Trial. I have done this event before so hopefully if the driver can keep it on the road and the tests go OK, I am sure I can get us through the regularities and get a reasonable result.”
Steve; “We managed a warm up event with Loughborough Car Club last weekend and it went OK so lets hope we’re not too rusty.”
After a blazing first day, Leg Two will be the big one when the navigational and driving skills requirements of the Summer Trial get turned up another notch. It is also the most scenic day as the rally drives over great viewing areas like the Long Mynd, although crews who will be tackling the nine regularities and two tests will be a bit more focused on the road books and timing than the gorgeous North Shropshire Hills.
As the outside temperature rose, so did the heat in the cockpit as the competition was ramped up a little over Leg Two of the Summer Trial. Starting at 8.00 am until early evening, 56 cars set off to battle it out around Shropshire’s challenging lanes for nine regularities and two tests on private land.
Whisper it, but Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane in the BMW 323i could have a chance of their first victory after twice finishing runners up, when they snatched the lead from Paul Bloxidge and 15 year old navigating sensation Oli Waldock who have dropped to fifth but are still in striking distance.
That’s how close the day has been in the top ten as one small error or a hold up has dramatically changed the order.
Rising to fifth then second by the end of the leg, Novice Trial winners Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite confirmed their graduation from beginners to intermediates with a fine performance in their SAAB 600 Turbo to upset the experts. They have showed real form amongst amongst the big guns in the sport.
Riding serenely through the traffic with some great times on the clock have been the husband and wife pairing of Pete and Jo Johnson in the unlikely but effective rally Austin Maestro. Many will remember the Maestro Challenge series which was race and rally, so although it is not the most elegant car it has competition history. Pete and Jo are making the most of it.
Andy Simpson and champion navigator Roger Bricknell were left frustrated as they suffered more hold ups than most as they nose dived from a podium position last night to eighth today. However, continuing their climb have been Chris Howell and Jon Briggs in the Ford Lotus Cortina to take fourth overall in the evocative white and green coloured car, just ahead of the Bloxidge/Waldock Golf GTi and Paul Day and Alun Jones who shone in the MGB today after it suffered gearbox overheating yesterday.
It has been a great comeback so far for Michael Moss and James Ewing in the crisp sounding Fiat 2300S Coupe, they are seventh and could have been higher but for James missing an amendment. The crew were still happy with their performance although they know the heavy car is not the best on the tests!
Nicola Shackleton and Richard Worts enjoyed another consistent day, ninth in their Jaguar Mk 2 as Constant Busch and Alan Pettit slipped back into the top ten in their Volvo Amazon.
Leg Two has definitely been tougher than Friday but it has definitely been more scenic! Heading out west across the Shropshire Plain with the 1335 ft high Wrekin overlooking the plain, the towns of Little and Church Stretton lead crews across the jaw dropping Long Mynd looking down on Shropshire way below as if it was a great big green and gold coloured blanket.
The three regularities after that were set in the winding Welsh Marches before a lunch halt at the Mortimers Cross. The rally went past Croft Castle and Berrington Hall routing around the south Shropshire Hills where navigators had to work even harder with tricky junctions and lots of speed changes. At Halfpenny Green Airport two small tests proved challenging due to the dust and gravel. On one, cars had to take to the edge of the stubble field due to the logs in the middle. As a result, plumes of dust rose high into the air as cars were at full bore along both sides of the old runway.
Some of the small roads were potholed, dried mud turned to dust and many small turns called for snap decisions. At the end of the regularity seven a devious left was called for up the drive into the pub where the control was situated, this was also the end of the regularity. At least six cars never turned into the control.
Ultimately it had been a fantastic day of regularity rallying, the heat of the competition matched only by the weather as the Summer Trial lived up to it’s name. Leg three brings more heated competition but with it the chance for the leaders Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane to keep cool and take their first ever HERO-ERA win.
Oli Waldock; “We had two good regs in the morning then one nightmare when I missed a turn, but it happens, after that it was all good!” Paul Bloxidge; “Four out of five for Oli but to be fair to him the sign was quite hidden in the long grass.”
Andy Simpson; “They took their sheep for a walk, they took their tractors out for a drive, they got their dustbin lorries out! There was even a caravan down the narrow lanes but it’s just one of those things.” Roger Bricknell; “ We lost at least a minute on one reg with a tractor and sheep, so it’s all on the final day!”
Henry Hardwick; “Just one wrong turn today so that’s a marked improvement, although apparently yesterday I jumped the start of one regularity! Just so long as we beat that lot (pointing to his father Stephen and sister Olivia in the Alfa Romeo). Thomas Fair; “I’m not sure that jump start was fair, that was our best regularity as well!”
Stephen Hardwick; “I am losing my voice, so many times I have to keep telling Olivia to slow down! It was going really well this morning, I tell her to slow down or speed up and she does it and now she is getting used to the car. She much prefers the Alfa Romeo to the Volvo!”
Rob Hendy;” This is the cars first event and it’s all holding together, we had one or two navigational challenges but we need to up the game, however they are just great roads with great scenery. Michael Joyce; “ It feels like this event has gone up a gear since last year, either we are very rusty or it has moved on. But massively enjoyable, we will be back for more. The highlight has been the spectators, the people have been waving, cheering and supporting us, it has been absolutely fabulous.”
Andy Lane; “We pulled the black Porsche out of a ditch, we couldn’t go past and leave them, up to that point we had been spot on and it was just before a control.”
Alan Wright; “We had a hiccup this morning, we spent a long time driving the wrong way but then we got it right, Dave and I are still friends. They are just brilliant driving roads. Our Ford Cortina is totally standard spec with no mods at all. The car went to Finland when it was brand new and then to Italy where I got it”.
Alan Mills; “A great day, glorious weather and dust carts! It was really good especially as it’s our first time together and Martin drove really well in the tests, very quick. I’m on the HERO Challenge in a couple of weeks then hopefully the RAC Rally of the Tests and Le Jog!” Martin Read; “The car has been running really well today it has been tight, we were also much tighter as a team today than yesterday!”
Heiko Schupp; “This is my first time, me and Matt Cook are both novices, we looked online and thought the Summer Trial looked the most adventurous and most attractive but it was perhaps a bit tougher for beginners. But we got into our stride, then the fuel pump packed in. We fixed it but ran out of time so we are out. Hopefully we will do more events.”
Simon Brown; “We hit a massive pot hole in the Frogs Gulley regularity when something got into the rear wheel and damaged the caliper, it was getting very hot so we had to keep stopping. In the end even the brake pedal was getting hot so we had to retire the Fiat X1/9. It was a pity as that was our shakedown for the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo next year!”
Julia Robertson; “We did better today than yesterday! We lost six and a half minutes through cows and traffic, I think through the lockdowns I’ve got a bit rusty not quite as on it as I was.” Steve Robertson;” It was one of those rusty moments that we both had when we nearly missed the turn into the control at the pub. The navigator said left then hesitated, I hesitated then I drove over the bank to into where you all were!”
Sally Ward; “It has been good, Shropshire is gorgeous, it hasn’t been perfect but we have done the best we can, but it has been fun.” David Ward; “All those Table Top Rallies that HERO-ERA put on, they were great for practice and theoretically we were wonderful, but the reality……… we are getting better, we are improving which is good. The Ferrari was great on most of the roads and never missed a beat. It was a bit on tip toes as we charged round the log and stubble field though!”
After three days of wonderful Shropshire lanes, airfield tests, glorious weather and scenery fitting of a Summer Trial, the podium was filled by first time winners, a future star navigator and a former champion driver and navigator.
It was natural that with a lead of forty seconds, being on the cusp of their first big win just two regularities and a test to go, that Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane were more than a little bit nervous. They had been in this position twice before and something had conspired against them. Not this time, with a great combination of accurate time keeping and speed on the tests, the duo finally made it stick. Angus McQueen received the best of the tests ‘Test Pilot Award’ for his speed.
A tremendous final day top ten battle included a three way fight for fourth with just two seconds between the crews with one test to go. Ahead there was another fight raging for the podium as former HERO-ERA Cup champion Paul Bloxidge navigated by his 15 year old grandson Oli Waldock, hauled themselves up from fifth to second place. It was a remarkable performance by the young record breaking navigator in an event which the experts said was not easy. As a bonus, Oli took the ‘Clockwatchers Award’ for the best navigator after his stupendous efforts.
Andy Simpson and Roger Bricknell, the only HERO-ERA competitor to win both the driver and navigator titles, fought back to a magnificent third overall. They had dropped down to eighth after Leg two traffic woes in their Mini Clubman GT but took third at the expense of 2021 Novice Trial winners Alistair Leckie and Matt Outhwaite. The SAAB 900 Turbo pairing proved their novice result was no fluke and put themselves firmly amongst the experts with a great performance for fourth, plus the class win, all from a crew who are still learning the ropes, but learning fast.
There were 18 regularities and 10 tests covering 400 miles during the three days. Only the final day was blighted by early heavy rain otherwise the sun blazed down as it should on a Summer Trial. For Stuart and Emily Anderson’s 1937 Bentley Derby 4.5 litre, that meant full wet suits and headgear as they splashed away from the Leg three start, only to shed them later as the sun shone on them when they won their battle for the Masters title, beating Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham in their Porsche 356B.
Pete and Jo Johnson were fifth in an Austin Maestro which he only drove the night before the rally, then hand braked it to test success over the three days. Richard Worts was sixth in his red Jaguar Mk 2 after a fine, consistent performance in the top ten navigated by Nicola Shackleton who felt the event was harder than labeled as a green event suitable for beginners.
Michael Moss and James Ewing were eighth in their elegant but heavy Fiat 2300S Coupe on their comeback after a long lay off for them and the car. Chris Howell and Jon Briggs finished ninth in the superb Ford Lotus Cortina having run as high as fourth on the last leg.
It’s always good to see a Lancia Fulvia Sport, but when it’s also a Zagato that runs like clockwork after just an MOT in the last year, it’s impressive. For Daniel and Barbara Weidermann there was the reward of 10th place and the bonus of a class win.
Previous Summer Trial winner Steve Robertson was partnered by his wife Julia rather than his son on this occasion. Although the pair admitted they had made mistakes as they chipped away the rust after such a long layoff, they brought the 1936 MG PB home 13th and won their class.
It was a hard luck story for Constant Busch and Alan Pettit who had been running in the top ten until the final test on the last leg when a bottom ball joint broke on their Volvo Amazon and the car fell down lurching to a stop. Patrick and Daisy Walker lost their Alfa Romeo GT Junior to mechanical issues on Saturday night but unperturbed, they drove home and picked up their Ferrari to finish the event in!
Winner Angus McQueen, BMW 323i, had been knocking on victory door with navigator Mike Cochrane a couple of times. They let slip, in their nervous moments at the Rednal Kart facility on the last day, how they had sharpened up their act. Mike; “Being on time and not being pushed is important, we like to stay on the clock and make it up if we have to, rather than have time in hand. Out tests have been fantastic, it used to be a bit of weak point for us but we were fastest on test one and second fastest on test two, so it started well.”
Immediately after taking the chequered flag Mike had this to say; “We are very, very pleased. I went a bit wrong on the last regularity although luckily we had some spare in there, but it’s all down to Angus’ driving on the tests he has been fantastic. It’s been tremendous, a lovely, lovely weekend.”
Angus;” Our level of confidence on the tests has grown, a new limited slip differential has helped too, but the more you do the better it gets, and I am loving the loose at the moment. What’s next? More wins and no tractors we hope!” I have to compliment Mike, he has been really consistent. If we have gone wrong we’ve been able to get back on track pretty quickly.”
Second place Paul Bloxidge and Oli Waldock, Volkswagen Golf GTi; Paul, “Yes it’s been a see saw battle. We were a bit patchy yesterday, partly Oli but mostly me, but today there has been a lot of concentration. Oli worked really hard doing his homework checking difficult junctions and instructions, which resulted in some good regularities today, and we kept our noses clean on the tests.”
Oli;” The navigation has been difficult right from the start, it hasn’t been easy but we really concentrated. One navigator got out of his car and said, ‘is this the Rally of the Tests?’ We are very happy, I am very pleased as this is my third podium, I have equalled my best with another second place.”
Third overall, Andy Simpson and Roger Bricknell, Mini Clubman GT. Roger; “We’ve had some good times, no wrong slots, we did all we could but there is always the possibility of getting fowled up by traffic.”
Andy; “The Mini seemed to go well, lots of marshals on the tests said we were quick, in short the car was brilliant!”
Sixth overall after a quick and consistent performance were Nicola Shackleton and Richard Worts in their Jaguar Mk 2. Nicola;” It was tough rally for what was meant to be for beginners. Yes, Richard told me about the brilliant scenery as I was busy navigating, but I’ve been to this part of the world before and I know how beautiful it is!” Richard; “It has been tricky but we are glad we came as we wanted to use this as a warm up for the RAC Rally of the Tests. As practice for that event it has been excellent. We are surprised by our result, it’ luck really, you meet the lorry or you get stuck behind the tractor or not. We had our share from which we dropped time, but we also had our lucky breaks!”
Peter and Kit Moore were 32nd overall and third in class in their 1936 Riley Special. This was Kit’s first ever rally. Father Peter commented, “We were a bit shaky on the first day, but Kit has done incredibly well especially as it’s his first ever event.” Kit; “The first test was the worst, not knowing what was about to happen, but it got better, we set some of the fastest times on the tests. Hopefully I will be able to compete on some more events in the future!”
Stuart and Emily Anderson, winner of the Masters Class on the Summer Trial in their 1937 Bentley Derby 4 ½ litre. Stuart; “It was great to be back out rallying, it was a shame about the traffic but there’s nothing you can do about it. We enjoyed our own battle with Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham in their Porsche and I’m happy to say we came out on top!”
Emily Anderson; gold medal winning navigator; “I’m really pleased with that result. I will happily be rubbing that result into Stephen and Bloxe’s faces over the coming couple of months!”