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A Novice Trial – A Day of Learning as Novice Weekend Kicks Up a Gear

A Novice Trial – A Day of Learning as Novice Weekend Kicks Up a Gear

All great adventures must begin somewhere, and for the 108 individuals, that have gathered from all over the world, taking part in HERO-ERA’s A Novice Trial this weekend, who knows what great adventures may lie ahead, now that they have taken their first steps in the sport. This event, a training weekend aimed at the newer members of the rallying family, may not be the most glamorous or exciting on the calendar, but it might be one of the most important. Today, Oxfordshire, tomorrow the world.

But, for now at least, learning the basics of regularity rallying was everyone’s top priority. A chance to learn some of the ins and outs of the sport, before the fun of a mini rally tomorrow morning. Until then though, it was time to hit the books and absorb as much information as possible from HERO’s team of expert lecturers in one of the weekend's classroom sessions that took place in the Arrive and Drive showroom, cleared of cars of course. On the walls hung the many rally plates from years of adventures around the world, inspiration for those beginning their journey, and perhaps added incentive to be top of the class, rather than class clown!

Today wasn’t all theory though, the time in the classroom punctuated by practical road sessions, with dummy regularities giving an opportunity to put theory into practice whilst not worrying about the clock. Any experienced hand will tell you that it is more important to be in the right place at the wrong time, than to be spot on with timing, but lost. The navigation, in all of its guises, can be quite a thing to get your head around, so the chance to practice this element of the sport at your own pace, with no pressure is a good thing indeed.

On the theme of slowing it all down, there was also an opportunity to practice a test, and a regularity, at walking pace and sans car. This is a format HERO have used in previous years, with a mock test setup on the roof terrace of the HERO-ERA office at Bicester Heritage. Most took their time, getting used to reading code boards and going around cones in the right order, although some couldn’t help but go at the test full tilt, sprinting their way around – well, I suppose these foot sections were the only elements of the day where the clock was running. This was usually instigated by the drivers, dragging their poor navigators by whatever body part they could get a hold of. It will be interesting to see how this enthusiasm for speed translates when they are strapped into their cars tomorrow morning and contesting a test for real.

A slightly slower pace was engaged for the walking regularity that followed the final classroom session of the day, though the pairings were no less enthusiastic – although that may have been because once this was complete the competitors, or should that be students, were back into the cars. On the road again, and now in the sunshine, for a short loop in the surrounding countryside punctuated by chocolate box villages, including the always busy Brill, famous for its windmill and as being the place where the Great Train Robbers hid out after their heist. Ronnie Biggs and co may have chosen it for its complicated warren of tiny streets, that were causing a bit of consternation for some of our novices. Some were even seen travelling back into the village centre, retracing their steps to ensure they were on the right track.

But then that is what today is all about, making mistakes is all part of the process of learning and none of the crews involved this weekend should worry a jot about any errors. The day finished with a first taste of scrutineering, ahead of the mini-rally that will begin in the morning. There has been plenty to take on board, but the most important thing is to not dwell on all of the information received and just enjoy the occasion. This is supposed to be fun after all, so relax, take your time and savour tomorrow’s experience of driving a fabulous classic car on the open road, in the company of like-minded enthusiasts.

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