Robert and Sue McClean are competitors, real competitors who want to do well at everything they attempt. When trying to find out from Bob if there has been an issue with their vehicle, as the Editor of HEROICS, and HERO on-event reporter, I've been sent off with a flea in his ear once or twice as Bob tries to repair a fault. Would I have it any other way? No. As well as being the epitome of Northern people with their grit and tenacity, the McClean's are simply two of the nicest people around, another Northern trait. They have given up medals on Le Jog to help other competitors that are stranded, they truly embody the spirit and essence of the event. Read more about Le Jog and why Bob and Sue have become the most experienced crew in Le Jog history.
It was June 2000 and the Rover was in the final stages of being rebuilt. As I was working on the car one weekend Susan popped into the garage to say she’d found this rally event called Le Jog for classic cars. After a few questions about what was involved, she asked: “Can you get the car ready to drive from Lands End to John O’Groats by December?” Really without thinking, I said, “yes, no problem”. So after a lot of late nights and long weekends, we finally got the car roadworthy two weeks before the start. The first challenge was to get to the start and pass scrutineering. We hadn’t done any serious rallying since 1987 in the final days of the Motoring News Championship so this being our first classic rally we were very much novices. We made the start with no problems and set off at 8.22 on Saturday morning. Never having done regularity sections before we really struggled with these throughout the event. But with only one car problem with the fuel pump in Wales, we made it to the finish!
And we were hooked!!
We have now completed 16 Le Jogs in the same car – a 1962 Rover P4 100 – not what would be considered a classic rally car!
But what keeps us coming back?
Le Jog is a unique challenge, unlike other classic rallies. It uses its own regularity system (Jogularity), it has challenging but not mind boggling driving tests and it has lots of night driving including time control (TC) sections. The initial objective of the event is just to get the crew and the car from Lands End to John O’Groats – an achievement in itself. The ultimate challenge is to achieve a gold, silver, bronze medal or blue riband. This means completing all of the route, being accurate with the navigation and pressing on when necessary (which is most of the time!). Crews need to be able to work together when both are very tired and the weather is challenging. The sense of achievement on reaching the finish is immense, whether you attain a medal or not (although it is very nice to get a medal!). It has not diminished one jot over the 16 events we’ve completed. We’ve had success, one gold, and 2 bronze medals as well as 3 blue ribands and we’ve had problems but always managed to get to the finish.
The event is not about who is the fastest. Within each class, there is the opportunity to achieve a medal as long as you can keep within the gold standard as set by the organisers. Because of the nature of the event, you can have problems with the car, get it sorted and cut out part of the route, rejoin and still be classed as a finisher. There is also tremendous support during the event from both organisers and other competitors, including breakdown cover as well as expert help on navigation and regulations. For anyone who has a passion for historic rallying, LE JOG is the one to do. Some only ever do it once, others, like us, keep coming back for more.
Robert & Susan McClean