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Tuesday 7th December

Posted at John O’Groats

31 crews booked out of the Gosforth restart, but not the same 31 that had booked in the night before. One continental crew had decided that dinner was needed more urgently than a time at the Gosforth main control on Sunday, and the Lotus (car 51) had booked in but needed specialist repairs so was taken off to Birmingham by the crew. Unfortunately the car was not able to rejoin.

Overnight on the Sunday Peter had received reports form the advance crew that conditions haddeteriorated to the point that many roads were now impassable due to a combination of black ice and snow. He was left with little alternative but to cancel several sections and tests before the lunch halt at Livingston on monday. A detailed re-route was planned and issued to competitors at RMC 21 (Gosforth re-start). The new route took crews to MC23 via Sunwick where a test on private land through a farm barn had been popular on a previous Le Jog. Changes to the route through the farm meant that the patches of black ice could be avoided and the test was successfully run with the venue proving as popular as ever. Best performance on this test was shared by cars 11 (the Austin Healey of Roman Schlommer and Bruno Mueller) and 22 (the TR of Tony Sheach and Richard Lambley), both crews with penalties of 53 seconds.

By now Peter had located a replacement screen with the help of the Worcester depot of National Windscreens. A trip was made to their Newcastle depot where the very helpful staff were clearly worked off their feet. One of their rivals (the one that advertises they “repair and replace”) had told Peter that despite having a screen in stock they would not be able to fit it until Friday. National Windscreens had to pick one up from their supplier, but still arranged to carry out the work that day. Weather conditions east of Glasgow continued to deteriorate and the manager of the windscreen depot permitted Peter and Brian to use his office. This allowed Peter to co-ordinate with his officials and course car drivers, whilst Brian started to text crews with an update.

The Livingston rest halt was meant to be an hour’s stop for a late lunch. However, the severe snow stormthat caused chaos across central Scotland and which brought the country to a halt gridlocked many of the roads between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Thick snow and broken down vehicles meant that cars on the motorway and main truck roads around Livingstone were on stop. The general manager of the Deer Park Beefeater at Livingstone helped to clear the car park of snow to make room for Le Jog crews, and was eagerly awaiting their arrival

The snow storm lead to the worse conditions for over 45 years and the gridlocked roads caused a major headache to the organising team. The Livingstone venue became the re-grouping point for all the crews, and with all the senior officials co-ordinating with Peter the control remained open until all the cars that had left Gosforth had booked in and were accounted for. By this time Peter’s L200 had been fitted with a new screen and he set off to catch up with the rest of the event at Kinloch Rannoch.

Trial and Tour competitors were more eager that ever to reach John O’Groats but by now it was clear to the organisers that as so many minor roads were blocked it was not possible to run any further regularities or navigation sections (with the possible exception of the final two regularities). A quick check on the status of Little Ferry Kart Circuit also showed that a test there was not possible due to the black ice.

Crews were given a new route to Kinloch Rannoch. Although not including any regularities or navigation sections, the winter-wonderland effect on the scenery approaching the supper halt made up for the loss. After a hot meal and rest, crews were sent to the Breakfast Halt at Lybster via Skiach Services at Evanton.

The final two regularities were checked and at first found to be passable. Marshals were moved intoposition and the course cars despatched. However, strong gusts of winds had developed and snow was starting to be blown onto the roads from nearby fields. CC1 soon discovered that they could not drive through Regularity EE. Help was sought from a nearby farmer and messages passed back to Peter which allowed crews to be re-directed to the final regularity of the event. Ironically, a snow plough cleared the road intended for Regularity EE just before the first car was due to arrive. Best performance on the final section Regularity FF going to car 29 (Christian Ruter and Stephan Huber).

Despite all the problems and re-routes, 28 crews booked into the final control on time at John O’Groats. All had massive grins on their faces and every crew member remained at the famous landmark until the very last crew checked in.

Results were declared at the Norseman Hotel in Wick later that afternoon, where crews, officials and marshals gathered for the prize giving dinner. HERO welcomed everyone with a glass of champagne and we were delighted that our honoured guest, Anne Dunnett, Lord Lieutenant of Caithness was able to join us for dinner and to present the awards to competitors.

It was clear that this had been the ultimate challenge and one which the crews had relished, despite the severe weather. Peter thanked all concerned and when offering his thanks and appreciation to the marshals, there was a standing ovation for their supreme efforts. The Spirit of the Rally award is normally presented part way through the awards ceremony. However, Peter had a particular crew in mind for this and was keen to show both his and the competitors’ appreciation for the work of the advance crew, Jayne and Geoff Gibson. It was at this point that Peter announced that Jayne and Geoff had been stuck on one of the trunk roads blocked by two heavy articulated lorries for over 19 hours before police and emergency services were able to remove the lorries and allow the traffic to continue. They had only arrived at the hotel a few hours before dinner. Jayne and Geoff received a standing ovation when being presented with the award.

Le Jog does not declare a General Classification but recognises the supreme effort of those who achieve medal status; as such there are no overall awards. However, the crew with the lowest number of penalties were Christian Ruter and Stephan Huber in car 29, the BMW 2800. Christian and Stephan were also one of the three Silver Medal winners.

The prestigious marque team award went to Team Triumph, cars 21, 22 and 36 (two TR4’s and a TR6). Recognition was also given to Roger and Andrew Cook in the Reliant Scimitar (car 48). Despite having failed to get to John O’Groats due to mechanical problems, their entry on the event had allowed them to raise a large amount for charity which earned them the Charity Shield award.

There were just three Gold Medal wining crews – cars 18, 27 & 45. Kevin Haseldon & David Kirkham, Jean-Marie Schmit & Thierry Hilger, Helgo & Selina Helmbold. Best performance by a novice crew went to Duncan and John Macleod in the Austin Mini Cooper (car 16) – the 2010 Le Jog being a real baptism of fire for the two absolute beginners.

Once the main presentation had taken place, the awards for the HERO cup were presented. Third place, the Champagne Award presented by HERO partners Wine & Trade, was shared between Howard Warren, Tony Sheach and Richard Lambley. Second place, VIP hospitality tickets as HERO’s guests at the 2010 Goodwood Revival went to Graham Walker and Sean Toohey. The overall award for the cup which came with a week cruising the Mediterranean aboard the luxury classic sailing yacht the Orianda was present by the boats skipper, Simone Pandolfi, to Robert and Susan McClean. Robert and Susan had won their first event overall a few months ago on the HERO Scottish Malts rally and were clearly delighted and a little emotional when they received a well deserved accolade from their fellow competitors. The 2010 Le Jog was in fact the 10th Le Jog entered by the McCleans in their Rover.

There was a real party atmosphere at the end of the 2010 Le Jog and everyone commented on how much they had enjoyed the challenge. Many said they would be back in 2011. Despite being tired, the crews were on such a high that the celebrations continued in the bar at the Norseman until 4am.

Full results are available on the website, and a selection of images will appear here in a few days.

At the Gosforth Park Overnight Halt.
Start of Day Three

The 16th running of Le Jog was always going to be an event to remember, but no-one could have foreseen that the severe weather that struck the UK at the start of December would turn the “ultimate challenge” into the toughest Le Jog ever.

Crews and officials arriving at the Land’s End Hotel on the Thursday evening prior to the start of the event discovered a winter-wonderland as the area had experienced the first snow in 25 years. The road to the “land’s end” was under a light covering of snow with patches of ice and the whole of the start venue was under a blanket of snow. First indications lead Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin to consider that the initial test along the cliff top paths and drive-ways would be too dangerous to run. However, he left the final decision until all documentation had been completed the following day.

Of the 39 crews and 6 Tourers that entered the event, all six tourers and 35 of the Trial crews signed on to start the event.. Each of the crews were looking forward to the challenges ahead and were certainly not put off by the adverse weather. Course Cars normally run about one hour ahead of the event, but Peter had decided that an eight hour

Crews and officials were delighted to see the TR of Tony Sheach and Richard Lambley at the start following the engine rebuild that had taken place during the night of the 3rd December and the subsequent cam shaft replacement that had taken place on the Friday.

The first leg to Magor was fairly uneventful as road conditions had improved. However ice on the Stithians test meant that stop astride penalties had to be reconsidered. Heavy rain at the Mansell Raceway test mixed with the snow also provided the marshals with an entertaining session. Prior to the Raceway test, the experienced crew of Robert and Susan McClean encountered a rare mechanical problem with the Rover. Robert managed to carry out a temporary repair but decided not to do the test, opting to arrange for a more permanent repair to be carried out locally to allow them to re-join the route later.

The crews gathered at Magor services to be advised that conditions were deteriorating in mid Wales and to be

The crews were held at the Painscastle main control for 40 mins whilst Peter and Brian (Whyte) carried the re-route bulletins to the control. They arrived to find everyone in high spir1ts and relishing the challenge ahead. The main control at Trefeglwys was to be the prelude to a long series of time controls but black ice meant that the majority of these were cancelled. It was becoming clear that actually getting to John O’Groats was to be the challenge for 2010.

The weather had caused all sorts of electrical and fuel problems but as always Brit Assist working through HERO Assist were able to keep most of the cars mobile. The Volvo Amazon of Geoff McGladdery and Mark Foster had experienced brake problems in the West Country and decided that the repair was best carried out at home – they hoped to rejoin after Telford.

Results at Telford out showed that four crews were on Gold medals with two on silver. Best performance on the tests and regularities going to car 18 the Mini Cooper of Kevin Haseldon and David Kirkham. Top performer on the navigational sections being held by car 30, the Escort of Paul Davis and Mike Cowburn. Overall position at Telford being in the hands of car 29, the BMW of Christian Ruter and Stephan Huber.

The advance crew set off again in the early hours of Sunday morning and soon came across thick snow. Unfortunately, an encounter with a snow drift meant that the recovery crew had to be despatched to help pull the vehicle clear of the snow. The severe weather conditions were now causing disruption to regularities and tests but the crews arrived at Haworth for lunch still relishing the challenge, with the spectacular scenery adding to the interest. The weather had not prevented spectators coming out in force and the car park at the Haworth Old Hall Inn had to be cornered off to allow room for the crews. Locals advised the officials that they had not seen snow falls like this since 1963.

Black Ice on many roads after lunch left Peter with no alternative, but to issue a reroute during the afternoon, resulting in cancellation of the regularities. Course officials were despatched to the two late afternoon tests at Frosterley and Derwent. Despite snow ploughs having cleared the area around the tests, the venues were considered unsafe due to the deep snow and the tests were cancelled. Crews were advised to drive straight to the overnight halt at Gosforth Park.

Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin accompanied by Brian Whyte had a lucky escape near Scotch Corner when a lump of ice the size of a concrete building block was dislodged from the top of an articulated lorry and struck the centre of the windscreen. Shattering it and covering them with glass.

Crews at the snow covered overnight halt at Gosforth Park were still full of enthusiasm and indicating a strong desire to get to John O’Groats to be able to say that they had completed the toughest and most challenging Le Jog ever.

33 Trial crews left Telford and 31 had booked in at Gosforth, including the Volvo of McGladdery and Foster who had completed repairs to the brakes and rejoined the event. The medal status had changed slightly with the gold medals having dropped to three, with silver medals increased to three. Best performance on the tests was still held by car 18 the Mini Cooper (Haseldon and Kirkham), whilst regularity honours were now in the hands of Christian Ruter and Stephan Huber in the BMW. Christian and Stephan were still top of the leader board.

Mechanical problems were being experienced by a few crews, with the Chamois of Luxemburg crew Jean-Marie Schmit and Thierry Hilger having broken a suspension damper. The Lotus of Frank Appel and Harmut Grau (Car 51) required specialist repair and was due to be taken to a garage overnight.

Friday 3rd December

Despite the inclement weather Le Jog 2010 will start as planned from Land's End at 7am on Saturday 4th December.

Contingency plans have been put in place and it is planned that the event will finish at John O'Groats on Tuesday 7th December on schedule!

This event was covered by Retro Speed. Click here to see their picture gallery

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