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HERO Challenge Championship Returns

Round One Heads to Devon and Cornwall for the First of a Three Round Championship

HERO Challenge Championship Returns

The HERO Challenge Championship makes its much-anticipated return on the 23rd of this month, with round one taking place in the narrow lanes of Devon and Cornwall. This is an area that has seen plenty of action on some of HERO-ERA’s longer and tougher events, but this time will play host to the curtainraiser of the ever-popular HERO Challenge one-day championship.

The HERO Challenge one-day rallies have established themselves in recent years, offering a full taste of action without taking up an entire weekend, and are aimed at those who have not yet attained Master’s status and as such are highly competitive. This might be a blue-level intermediate event, but with only one day to win it or bin it, the pressure is on from the outset.

Those entered into round one of the three-round mini championship can expect a route of some 150 miles, packed with 6 regularities and 6 tests offering plenty of action in the ‘never long enough’ day to test themselves against their peers. Last year’s champions were Steve and Alexander Chick, who took victory in the final round last season on their way to taking the series, but with them absent from round one this year there are plenty in the field that will be gunning for a good haul of early points, including several that have come close in previous years.

Despite the HERO Challenge events offering a springboard for some of the newer members of this sport, there are still plenty on the start list that would qualify as experienced hands, such as former HERO Cup champion Paul Bloxidge, competing with son James, and Bron Burrell in her famous Maxi, this time with LeJog Gold medal winner Emily Anderson in the maps seat. Simon Ayris is certainly a driver who will be hoping to do well, after winning round one last year and narrowly missing out on the championship overall, coming second by just four points. He begins this year with hot shot nav Matt Outhwaite beside him, a former double champion himself, it will surely be a formidable pairing.

This is a series that has bought a lot of young blood through in recent years, and round one this year will continue that tradition. Back for more is young Natasha Lomas, who at just 15 finished fourth in last year’s Championship, sitting alongside Father John in the 1936 Riley Sprite. Elsewhere there is also an entry for the ‘Bob Rutherford Historic Rally Scholarship for Young Navigators’ winner, Danielle Pool. This will be her second rally as part of her prize, this time navigating for HERO-ERA Mechanical Assistance Chief, Dave Alcock, in his beautiful Datsun280Z - a treat for sure.

There are also seven entrants that were on the recent A Novice Trial event, the training weekend held at HERO HQ at Bicester Heritage, designed to help total novices with their navigation and knowledge of the mechanics of the sport. They finished that weekend with a mini rally to get a taste of competition, but this event will really give them a chance to practice their newly acquired knowledge and get a feel for a full day of competition, amongst their more experienced peers. All at HERO-ERA are looking forward to seeing them, and hope they will relish their experience.

Exeter Racecourse will provide the base for the upcoming weekend, but just what can be expected from round one? Well, according to route planner and Clerk of the Course Nick Reeves, it’s a scenic route that goes up moor and down valley, in this extremely picturesque part of the world. Of course, that will be music to the ears of the photographers, but for those who will be concentrating on the route book or the tarmac ahead, this is a rally that will follow in the footsteps of some of the classic events from road rallying’s heyday in this area, in the mid-eighties. Dartmoor and Exmoor, and the rolling farmland in between will host what Nick is hoping will be a ‘competitive but enjoyable event’.

To that end the event’s tests will be more interesting than just markers in a carpark, with Stately Homes and farms providing venues that will provide a challenge and entertainment for those in control of the pedals.

The route will also take in Roadford Lake. Fed by the river Wolf, the lake is the largest area of freshwater in the southwest, so shouldn’t be too hard for the crews to miss. Nick is looking forward to the rally visiting this spot and has memories of driving through the bottom of the reservoir – sans water – when the dam was newly erected. We would recommend that nobody on this event tries to emulate this though, so drivers need to listen to their navigators!

Another element that Nick is anticipating will be a challenge is the fifth regularity of the day as it will be purely map based, an entertaining variable for the event and perhaps the point at which the navigators can really make the difference.

At the end of it all this is an event that is supposed to be fun and aside from hoping for things to go smoothly from an organisational point of view, Nick Reeve’s biggest desire is for people to enjoy themselves. “I’m looking forward to this being a successful event, that people will enjoy in an area we don’t often visit on this sort of rally” he said, “It’s going to be great to use some of the roads from this area’s road rallying heyday, when we might have been down here four or five times a year. Hopefully it will be a real treat for the competitors.”

Now we await the final build up through scrutineering on Friday then the 64 crews lining up for the start on the 23rd of March.

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