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Crews gearing up for the first of three rounds in the HERO Challenge Championship

The pull of the successful HERO Challenge trilogy from 2020 has drawn 75 cars to Hull, Yorkshire for the first of three HERO Challenges to count for the championship that was so fiercely contested last year with the Drivers title finally won by the flamboyant driving skills of Yorkshire’s own, Darren Everitt guided by the navigational talent of Susan Dixon in their 1965 Triumph 2000. They are back, but as champion, Darren is in the Masters Class.

Crews gearing up for the first of three rounds in the HERO Challenge Championship
*A packed entry of 75 cars gathers at the Mercure Hotel Hull for final preparations

*Bob Rutherford remembered with staff armbands and commemorative logos on cars

*New venue and fresh route from championship winning navigator awaits

Hero Challenge Champion navigator 2020, Charlotte Ryall is back, but not as we know her. She will not be being battered by the wind and rain in the open top 1937 Bentley but instead navigating her driver Eliott Dale in their new Ford Escort in the Masters Class, finally with a roof over her head!

A one day event with 8 tests and 8 regularities, some conducted on the infamous Elvington air field, the day is in a compact clover leaf format and is the brainchild of Golden Roamer Champion Navigator from 2018, Ian Canavan. Ian has been the architect of this ‘new venue’ rally but has been taken ill a day before the start, so everyone wishes him well and hope that he may at least rise from his bed to see some of his work on the day.

Commemorations are in evidence on this rally to a great friend lost to his family and HERO-ERA, Bob Rutherford, who sadly and tragically died whilst on the Classic Marathon recce in Spain last week when he lost his footing. Bob was known and loved by so many in the world of rallying that he will be deeply missed, not least by Clerk of the Course for HERO Challenge Two, Nick Reeves.

Nick;   "He was a really chose friend, I spent a lot I time with Bob over the years on reccies. I’ve just been on a recce with a colleague where we have been sharing stories about Bob for the week, but you don't realise how much time you spend with someone until you go back and say yes, I did that with Bob then we were here, so many events and adventures - he was the theme all week. It’s an absolute tragedy to lose him in such a way.

“Bob was a real sound listening board. If you had a problem you could talk to him or you were starting a fresh he'd give you a good sound grounding on the basics. Just a real proper chap.

“He had experience across the whole spectrum of rallying, he'd probably done just about everything in the sport. He is sadly missed and greatly respected.

“The family have urged HERO-ERA to carry on with the Classic Marathon as they feel that is what he would have wanted. And that’s exactly what his best friend and colleague, HERO-ERA Competition Director Guy Woodcock is doing right now. Guy is carrying on and I am sure the event will be a fitting tribute to Bob"

“We have got eight regularities and eight tests. Some different venues with some big tests up at Elvington. Quite a few crews say they are rallying in Yorkshire for the first time, and yes it is different for the HERO Challenge event to be here in this neck of the woods, but we do use this area for Le Jog and RAC Rally of the Tests.

“We try and to move the HERO Challenges to different parts of the country to give people variety in a compact format. I wouldn’t say the event is overly tough but it will make crews think, it will provide a challenge -it’s all about experience and telling people what classic rallying is all about. It should provide a challenge  which people will find rewarding.”

Paul Dyas has turned up in a 1937 Bentley Derby Special, a total departure from his usual Le Jog medal winning 70’s Volvo. He has gone totally vintage and totally fresh air, Paul explains;

"It's an itch I had to scratch. It goes back to the seventies when we first started in motor sport. A friend’s father had a Bentley, its been an itch ever since. I spent 4 days on a rain lashed Le Jog following Bentleys, calling them all the names under the sun, telling them they must be mad -but now I have converted. It’s got to be done!

“It has an all new engine, I haven’t revved it past 2000 rpm yet- we will take it for a little run and give it a few more revs tonight and see what it does on the tests.

“Obviously I’ve got them running scared because Bentley driver Elliott Dale has now got a roof over his head and bought an Escort, now we’ve got him worried.”

Martyn Taylor, navigator - "I’ve competed in four vintage cars but never in a Bentley, this is going to be a first for me. It can be quite cramped in the cockpit so you just have to throw your rally bag out of the window and cut it down to a plastic wallet of bare essentials. Then you try not to get in the way of the driver and hold on whilst going through left handers so as not to slide into him!”

Suzanne Barker, Simon Mains, 1973 Hillman Hunter;

Suzanne; “Different car, different driver but the same navigator, I’m just glad to be back out here going rallying. I’m going to try and keep Simon in check tomorrow, I have my pencils sharpened, I have the Haribos so we are good to go! ”

Simon; "The Hunter is in Marathon spec, it has a Holbay engine with Bilstein shock absorbers all round, in fact it has been fully rebuilt since the Tour of Cheshire 2019- and this will be the first event for the car and me since then!

Tom Doran 1984 Audi 80 Sport, Tom; “Were all ready to go but it’s been two years since our last event so we are little bit rusty, Gill is staying in the car still going through all detail now.

I have spent most of my life working for Audi but now I’ve retired I like to keep in touch with the older generation cars and enjoy some rallying when we can.”

Lindsay and Nick Dawson, 1975 Datsun 240Z. Lindsay; “I’m really looking forward to it. We also have an MGB which is a little bit better on the tests as the Datsun is harder work, but the 240Z is bigger and faster!”

Nick; “ We have competed in HERO- ERA events since 2016, the HERO Challenges are always good and a great way to keep your eye in. They are good value and they help you for the bigger events. We did the Summer Trial and we are entered for the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo.”

Gary and Sue Johnson, 1966 MGB GT, Sue;” The last event we did was in December, the PAAI so it’s six months since we were out on event. We did get some major gearbox problems from all the mud on that event but it’s all repaired now.  I’m not sure if I prefer tests or regularities, sometimes the organisers can put some hellish things into the regularities, but until you have done them a few times you don’t know where the problems are and you go wrong. We have got better at the tests, but we are looking forward to this rally, it’s the first time in Yorkshire for me!

Nigel and Sally Woof, 1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint, Nigel, “Yes we have a change of car but I haven’t got rid of the TR4, she is still dearly loved but we will see how the Alfa goes tomorrow! I couldn’t resist this car, it’s absolutely gorgeous.”

Another crew to change car but this time in quite a dramatic contrast is champion navigator Charlotte Ryall and Elliott Dale, from their 1937 open Bentley to a 1973 Ford Escort Mk 1!

Elliott; “I'm getting a bit older now. I thought I'd try something different!”

Charlottte; This is just total luxury compared to the Bentley- the car has a roof, a heater, you can wind the window up and down! -There is a downside, you very much get rattled around and it’s quite loud, I have to shout even louder than when we were in the open top Bentley!

It’s a bit different!”

Elliot "The Ford is only for the summer, we will keep the Bentley for the winter events! I bought the Escort off a friend of mine who had it for sale, it had been half prepared for road rallying but I'd always hankered after an Escort- it's a childhood thing but it won’t replace the Bentley.

“I went out rowing last night. We had had a series of little races with our own club. It’s the first time Iv’e been in a boat for 20 months, I was absolutely knackered”. (Elliott rowed the Atlantic four times and raised lot of money for charity, so was he training for another crossing?) If there is a sponsor willing to back us yes, otherwise no!!”

Emily and Stuart Anderson 1937 Bentley Derby, Emily was asked if she felt Charlotte and Elliott had deserted the Bentley Club; “We don’t really class them as friends any more, we have filed it in the past!

Stuart; “They are tin top lightweights! We are going to have a different battle now with Paul and Martyn.”

Emily; “I don’t think it’s going to be a big fight if I’m honest. It was was a bit of an anomaly on Summer Trial but don’t get me wrong, I’m keeping my trophy!!

“For us the tests are difficult, we can keep it tight on regularities, but we are slower on the tests and pick up more penalties- especially if you are up against Porsche and Ford Escorts in the Master class.  Stuart;” I still drive the car to and from the events, it’s the only way to do it in my book, forget all these trailers.! I get a bit damp on occasions, I got a bit of a splash on her way up today, but at least it wasn't Le Jog type weather!"

Read more and view results from HERO Challenge Two 2021 here

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