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HERO-ERA Awards 2023

Klaus Müller (HERO-ERA Cup winner) and Rolf Pellini (Golden Roamer Trophy Winner) scoop major honours

HERO-ERA Chairman speech points to Sustainability and the Future

Father and Son Stephen and Alex Chick Scoop Challenge Championships

Special Awards to Celebrate Outstanding Contributions in 2023

HERO-ERA Awards 2023

HERO-ERA’s annual award ceremony took place within the historic walls of the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, on Friday evening (19th Jan) to applaud the success of their competitors in 2023. The celebrated and historic venue is the traditional home of the awards, which offered an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of competitors in 2023 and look ahead to the year to come.

During an on-stage interview with Magneto’s Editorial Director David Lillywhite, HERO-ERA’s Chairman Tomas de Vargas Machuca highlighted the group’s work with bringing new talent into the sport, with the Bob Rutherford Historic Rallying Scholarship and the brand-new Rally of the Ages event, as well as the continued investment in sustainable fuels and finding more carbon neutral ways to go rallying. The near future was also very much on his mind, with the long-awaited Peking to Paris Rally just a few months away, which Tomas is competing in, an event that he described as Epic and one that he cannot wait to undertake.

Future issues aside, the focus of the awards is always the winners of the HERO-ERA Cup for the best overall driver and Golden Roamer Trophy award for the best overall navigator, fought over the eligible HERO-ERA events across the season and always hotly contested. This year the HERO-ERA Cup went to popular driver Klaus Müller, with his faithful and triumphant Lancia Fulvia displayed in the club’s famous Rotunda. Speaking of his success Klaus paid tribute to the four navigators that have sat with him this year, including his wife, Ilona. He joked that their in-car communication was always calm, a fact that was not always true at home!

The Golden Roamer Trophy was awarded to Klaus’s regular navigator, Rolf Pellini, the unequivocal winner, leading the table by 70.75 points come the season’s end. Upon accepting his award, he said it was incredible that eight years after starting rallying he was seeing his name carved into the trophy, even more incredible with all of the names that are already on the trophy, a list of luminaries that he has looked up to over the years.

The top awards are of course always the most coveted, but it is just as important to encourage those with less experience and to that end, the HERO Challenge Championship is set up as a mini championship, for those involved in the one-day HERO Challenge events. These less demanding, but no less enjoyable rallies are contested only by those that have not yet attained Masters status, and since the format’s conception has provided close and exciting competition. The 2023 championship was no exception, with father and son duo Steve and Alex Chick achieving the top spots for driver and navigator, after victory in the final round held in Preston. These events are of course about bringing on the next generation as well, and a special mention must be made of Natasha Lomas, who at 15 finished fourth in the navigators table, just 12 points from the top and with the added difficulty of competing in a pre-war Riley Sprite.

It wasn’t just success in the main categories that was celebrated either, with 2023 seeing the inaugural running of the Badawi Trail endurance event, which for the first time visited the Arabian Peninsula, offering a 7500km adventure through Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman, in a ground-breaking rally, the first of its kind ever to enter Saudi Arabia. There was a surprise presentation for HERO-ERA Chairman Tomas de Vargas Machuca, made by Dr. Nasser Almasary for his efforts in bringing the rally to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These rallies were of course pioneered by the late great Philip Young, and so it is only fitting that the award for the best performance across these rallies should carry his name. So it was that Xavier and Lucas de Sarrau were announced as the winners of the Philip Young ERA Award for Best Performance 2023, after finishing in tenth on the Badawi Trail, their endurance rally debut, where they also debuted the ProDrive developed HERO-ERA 1.

As an organisation that protects the past, HERO-ERA also looks to the future and celebrates youth involvement within the sport, and several awards pointed to this fact. First up to receive the Young Star Achiever award was 15-year-old Jack Harvey, who won the inaugural Rally of the Ages event, designed to encourage youth involvement in the sport by offering free entry to crews with a combined age of less than 70. Following on from the previous year’s announcement of the Bob Rutherford Scholarship for Young Navigators, a Motorsport UK endorsed scheme launched to propel young navigating talent to the forefront of the sport, Danielle Pool was invited to the stage to be awarded the first scholarship, after fighting off stiff competition during the selection process. Danielle will compete in four rallies across the coming year, with a diverse list of specially selected drivers, including current Rally of the Tests champion, Dan Willan.

There were further special awards handed out, with driver Andy Lane and navigator Iain Tullie receiving the 2023 Award for Major Achievement after the pair both achieved a record seventh gold each in one of the toughest Land’s End to John O’ Groats Reliability Trials in recent memory, an incredible feat. Thomas Koerner was also recognised, with the Greatest Gain award, after climbing from 25th to 3rd in the HERO-ERA Cup standings. A final special award, recognising the Spirit of Competition went to Nigel Keen and Bruce Norris, who had competed in both the Classic Marathon and the Badawi Trail in their Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. Neither Nigel nor Bruce would argue if you described them as no spring chickens, but nothing phased them on either of these tough events.

So, a celebration of current champions with a firm nod to the future of the sport. We all look forward to 2024 and beyond.

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