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Curtain up on HERO Cup season

Europe’s finest Classic Rally series kicks into life with HERO Challenge One, March 9th - Expert and novice crews alike are preparing for the first of eight HERO rallies that count towards the prestigious HERO Cup for drivers and the Golden Roamer navigator awards 2019.

Curtain up on HERO Cup season
The HERO Challenge One is the first of two HERO Challenges this year, introductory events which are mainly regularity based with only a few tests, but never the less represent a challenge for both the novice who is eager to learn, and the expert as a new class has been introduced to even out the competition.

This is the first event in 2019 to run a master’s Class created to allow beginners a chance to challenge for honors whilst giving the experienced crews a chance to shake down their cars for the season ahead yet still compete to become the best of those that are graded as master.

Many of the regular competitors are as keen as HERO is to encourage new drivers and navigators to take part in classic rallies. Four-time HERO Cup champion Paul Crosby is one such top competitor, who says he and ace navigator Ali Proctor will give as much time as they can in helping novices whilst they are on the HERO Challenge next weekend. The rally starts from Vale Golf Club in Pershore.

Paul Crosby; “This form of classic rally competition is a great compromise, it’s still a challenge without being dangerously fast, it’s nothing like a special stage or an endurance race. Yet it’s a buzz!

“There is nothing complicated, it’s a mixture of tulip diagrammed instructions with a bit of map work, ideal for the novice who should not be too worried about timings at this stage but rather be making sure their driver is going the right way. The timing will come with experience, but it is far more important to concentrate on taking take the right route at first.

“I have also been in the navigator’s seat and quickly learned how important it was to study the road book then clearly highlight the instructions where you actually have to turn but filter out the rest. For the novice it is important to make it simple when starting out, some try to call every junction and what time you need to be at a certain point, but I believe you should build up gradually and just concentrate on the actual junction where you are turning. It doesn’t matter if you are late at this stage of learning but rather making sure you are on the right route.

“The driver can be a huge help to the navigator. Some say the driver is just a route card carrying device to get the navigator to the next control, which is true to an extent as the navigator is key to success. But some drivers don’t contribute, it’s useless if they just drive without helping.

“For example, the driver should ask about the average speeds required and when that speed changes on the route, and maybe make a note on a dashboard sticker, they can then assist trying to keep the averages whilst the navigator concentrates on going the right way!

Crosby understands the value of helping the beginners as they are starting, just as his fellow competitors helped him at the beginning.

“I can remember my first event, the Throckmorton, it was daunting but some of the experienced crews took us under their wing. We learned some of the fundamentals, one being the importance of the timecard, what it means, how it works but which are the really important bits and the not so important bits of the card!”

Paul Crosby will be using the HERO Challenge as a shakedown for his Porsche 356 which frustratingly let him down in the 2018 RAC Rally of the Tests early in the event leading to his retirement. He waxes lyrical about the handling of the car and is looking forward to throwing it around in the tests at Chateau Impney where all the competitors will be ‘let off the leash’.

This is the venue for the now well-established hill climb where another Porsche 356, of Sean Bramhall and Andrew Scannell is expected to shine after its recent outing on the Retro Classic Tour and where the powerful Ferrari 308 GT4 of novice crew David and Sally Ward will stretch its legs. Stiff competition for both Porsches will come from the man who was on the podium, third overall in the HERO Cup standings in 2018, Stephen Owens with Nick Bloxham navigating. He is also in a nimble 356.

Steve Blunt will have more than enough power to cope with the inclines at Impney, in the Valiant Charger, the Australian version of the famous Dodge, whilst newbie navigator Jerry Pike will be looking to take another step in his progression after a successful debut on the Retro Classic Tour, provided the team don’t have to make too many fuel stops in the thirsty V8.

They could be out smoked on the tests by the Mustang of Paul and Gwyneth Steddy but novice Mark Lillington fresh from his successful outing on the Retro Classic Tour may be a little bit more circumspect with Lesley Sibley navigating as he goes up against fellow MGB runners Jon Harvey and Steven Brown.

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