Skip to content

The HERO Challenge Two - exciting new venue is ‘spoiler’ as Mini wins

*Dick and Harry Baine’s Cooper S wins close contest by just three seconds from Simon Ayris and Matt Outhwaite in an MGB

*Sarah and Ken Binstead follow up second place on London to Lisbon with a podium in HERO Challenge, this time with Triumph TR6

The HERO Challenge Two - exciting new venue is ‘spoiler’ as Mini wins

A great new venue at Upper Heyford proved to be exactly as Clerk of the Course, Andy Darlington designed it, fast and technical in parts, but a real challenge for crews with two tests and a regularity. It proved to be a ‘spoiler’ as leading crews dropped precious time in the last part of the rally.

The airfield deceived crews in terms of reference points, with many finding it difficult and dropping time, but as Andy Darlington said at the prize giving, “I wanted it to be challenging yet rewarding with a sting in the tail, but I hope everybody enjoyed it.”

However, the crew who had the least amount of bother on Upper Heyford were father and son Dick and Harry Baines. They snatched the win by three seconds in their Mini Cooper S from Simon Ayris and Matt Outhwaite’s MGB, who had been going extremely well up until the regularity on Upper Heyford. They feared that they had dropped much more time than they had, scoring a great result on HC2 with second place. This leaves the crew in a strong position in the HERO Challenge Championship for Drivers and for Navigators.

Matt Outhwaite: “It was bit of a surprise, we didn’t drop as much time as we thought, it was  a really good event, thoroughly enjoyable.”

Simon Ayris; “Don't get me started on that regularity, it had been going so well until then, it was tricky and naughty! But it could have been worse, and we did okay. We came away from that a bit deflated, but then when you figure that everybody else was having difficulties then it’s not so bad! As far as the championship is concerned, I think we're in a good place.”

Dick Baines; “This is the best HERO Challenge rally we've done so far!”

Harry Baines;  “In think this was the toughest HERO Challenge yet. Upper Heyford was exciting but difficult, just really fast over a lot of open concrete with lots of places where it could have gone wrong.

“This result is also good for the HERO Challenge Championship for us as well, it puts us in a good position.”

Sarah and Ken Binstead followed up a great second place on the recent London to Lisbon with the third place podium on HERO Challenge Two, this time in their relatively recently acquired Triumph TR6.

Sarah Binstead; “This is the first run out for this particular car so to actually get this result was great and we had fun today.”

Ken Binstead; “Yes, we had good fun. I mean it's work in progress with the car, but it has been a good day today. The airfield at Bicester was a bit wet giving us a few sideways moments on the perimeter track, but it was fun, and we were competitive, thankfully.
“We were very pleased with the TR6, there are always things we can tighten up, but it was a good fun day out.”

There were eight tests and six regularities over the 140-mile route of the best Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire lanes.

Crews were launched straight into the first three tests after the start from under the HERO-ERA arch. It was immediately onto the test track in anger, followed by two tests around the muddy perimeter track. Then after a regularity in the local lanes, teams were back for three more tests including very muddy and exacting tests around the same perimeter road again.

The third test, used twice, seemed to be providing the most fun as cars slithered around trying to find traction. The loudest laughter emanated from Sandra Heaney whose mud-spattered face bore testament to her fun afterwards.

Once done, the seventy plus cars were striking out onto the best B roads the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire countryside could offer, before finishing at the Bicester Hotel Golf & Spa.

Regularity One, lead the cars past the local Hardwick Manor, looking innocent enough until a bit of a trick caused some cars to miss a gravel track to part of the manor estate. Quite a few cars got this wrong and ended up either reversing or turning around, which was the right thing to do, as there was a hidden control inside the gravel perimeter road of the manor!

Leading up to eighth test on Upper Heyford, the final regularity, the fifth, was the longest of the rally. It took cars along a route to skirt the Eynsham Hall Park through Stonesfield village and also past Ditchley Park that was used as a weekend retreat by Winston Churchill during World War Two.

There were pockets of enthusiastic spectators at various points cheering the cars on, including Piddington were no less than four different clumps of spectators were cheering and waving as the classic rally cars made their way slowly through their village.

Competitors included 18-year-old Jacob Stock on his first ever rally, navigating Paul Latimer in their MGB. He described how he had done as much homework as he could and attended the navigational classes on Friday conducted by the Clerk and Deputy Clerks of the Course, Andy Darlington, and Andy Pullan. “I found them incredibly valuable, but I was still up late the night before the rally, swatting up as much as I could. But I do feel I began to get to grips with it.”

First in their class were Daisy and Patrick Walker in their Alfa Romeo after another great navigational job by Daisy, this time on a tricky and challenging event. Daisy was a Bob Rutherford Scholarship finalist in 2023.

The Bob Rutherford Scholarship winner, Danielle Pool, was taking part in her third fully funded rally by HERO-ERA as part of her winner’s prize. This was her first time in an open top Vintageant, the 1936 Riley Sprite alongside John Lomas. Danielle had a wonderful day and really enjoyed it, saying she would love another chance in the open car again.

The duo were second in class and seventeenth overall, a great result. Danielle also reported that the Motor Sport UK Academy course she is attending as part of her scholarship course, is proving to be very beneficial alongside her HERO-ERA rallies.

Classic Car Weekly journalist, Jesse Billington, absolutely loved his day in the saddle despite having to swop his HERO-ERA Arrive & Drive Sprite after a technical issue. He was totally wrapped however by its replacement, the Triumph TR4.” I just loved throwing it around the airfield, it was a thrill, I didn’t want to give it back.”

Jesse’s navigator, Ellie-May Taylor was fortunate to be on the rally at all after suffering from illness right up to the day before the rally. She was really pleased she had made the effort to come and compete as she said afterwards, “It was fantastic, now I’ve got the rally bug!”

Other notable results were achieved by Nick Haycock and Paul Heaven in their fabulous 1976 Ford Escort RS2000 RS to win the Concours de Elegance prize, whilst the prestigious Clock-Watcher Award of the top navigator on the event, went to deserving winner overall as well, Harry Baines.

A superb performance to win the Test Pilot Award for the fastest driver over all the tests was delivered by Christopher Day. In addition, he and navigator Claire Day scooped first in class in their rapid Morris Mini Cooper S.

The HERO Challenge Championship is now poised on a bit of a knife edge after two highly competitive rounds of both the driver’s and navigator’s championships.   The final round of the HERO Challenge Championship will be played out over Lincolnshire’s finest back roads this October, and it’s going to be a close run thing!

We use cookies to give you the best experience of using this website. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.