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The Throckmorton Challenge

The Throckmorton Challenge 2011

80 crews (33 in the Clubman event and 47 in the National B event) had signed up for the second running of the Throckmorton Challenge based at the one time Vulcan bomber dispersal site at the former RAF Base near Pershore in Worcestershire – the setting considered by Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin, as perfect for the 15 tests that were to make up the major part of the event.

Friday afternoon and early evening had seen scrutineering taking place under cloudless skies with a promise of sunny and calm weather on the Saturday.

As the crews gathered for the driver’s briefing at 8.30am on Saturday just four crews were declared as non-starters. The Throckmorton Challenge was running under a dual permit with the National B event being the last round in the HRCR championship and the championship decider with Howard Warren and John Ruddick both chasing the honours for top driver.

The weather didn’t disappoint and the event started at 8.45 under a cloudless sky with the cars going immediately into the first of the five tests in section one of the event. The tests had been designed by Peter to be flowing and demanding and to get progressively more difficult during the day as crews got used to the site. The concept also allowed most of the tests to be laid out the day before with the added benefit of reducing the pressure on marshals between runs.

The gauntlet was laid down from the very start with the best performance on test 1 by Ryan Pickering/Lisa Marshal (car 53) being only one second ahead of cars 70 (John Ruddick/Roger Burkill), 57 (Howard and Mathew Warren) and 24 (Graham Walker/Sean Toohey). The 2010 winner making it clear that he wasn’t going to make it easy for the championship contenders.

Test 2 saw top honours go to car 3 (John Rondeau and Dennis Greenslade). Test 3 provided four cars, 17, 24, 57 and 70, with identical best times. The driver of car 17, Charles Colton – teamed up with Mathew Harrison, showing his close friend and business partner Howard Warren that the award for best performance on the tests was not going to be easily won. Best performance on test 4 was taken by car 33 (Michael and Simon Baker).  Whilst test 5 honours were shared by cars 3 and 17 (Rondeau/Greenslade and Colton/Harrison).

Each main control was located in the HERO hospitality marquee where crews could help themselves to endless cups of coffee or tea and where the caterers where based for the day. After the first batch of five tests the crews made a stop at the main control before leaving the site for the first regularity of the day. Once completed the crews returned to book into the main control (and more coffee!!) before starting the second batch of five tests. Although these were located at the same positions as tests 1 to 5, an extra element or change of manoeuvre meant that no two tests on the event were going to be the same.

Best time on test 6 went to car 17 (Colton/Harrison) with cars 24 and 53 (Walker/Toohey and Pickering/Marshal) just one second behind. Test seven honours were taken by car 21 (Paul and Hubert Lynch) showing that the Minis were very much in contention. Test eight had three cars all sharing the fastest time – cars 70, 24 and 17 (Ruddock/Burkill, Walker/Toohey, Colton/Harrison), whilst test nine saw just one second between the top two performers, cars 85 (the MGB of Ken Jones and Charles Hughes beating the Escort Mexico of Ruddock and Burkill). The last test in batch two was once again taken by Charles Colton and Mathew Harrison in the Porsche 911.

Regularity B once again took the crews away from the site before they returned for a well-deserved break for lunch. Most of the crews taking this outside the marquee to enjoy the glorious sunshine of what was proving to be a great day out for everyone.

There had been a few cars with mechanical problems during the morning which kept the HERO Assist support team busy during the day. One of the most troublesome problems had been with the beautiful Mark ll Jaguar of Simon Fox, a complete newcomer to the sport who had joined HERO at the Goodwood Revival and had immediately entered the Throckmorton Challenge – his first ever event. Simon had teamed up with Clare Nedin, also a relative newcomer. The problem was eventually traced to the fuel pump and with Bill and Grahams help a replacement was fitted and the smile soon returned to Simon’s face and they were able to rejoin the event (at one point Simon had assumed he would not even be start his first event).

With lunch complete the crews started on the final batch of tests. Test 11 had joint leaders (cars 70 and 53 – Ruddock/Burkill and Pickering/Marshal) whilst the honours on test 12 were shared by the Mexico of John Ruddock and Roger Birkill and the Mini (car 21) of Paul and Hubert Lynch. Test 13 saw the Mexico take the fastest time which had to be shared once again with the TR4 of Ryan Pickering and Lisa Marshal. Test 14 was intended to be a Le Mans style test always poular on Le Jog. However, the crews were having such a good time and enjoying the weather so much that once they had parked up the car and got themselves ready for the start the early crews wanted to enjoy a quick chat with the marshal or compare notes with the next crew. There was a danger that the event would lose too much time and so Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin decided to cancel the test in order to keep the event flowing. Next year he intends putting the Le Mans start at the very beginning of the event – adding to the spectator interest. The last test of the day was once again taken by car 17, with cars 53 and 70 close behind.

Regularity C took the crews for their final off site regularity before they returned for a tea/coffee break prior to taking on the sting in the tail. Regularity D had been established on site making use of the runways and network of service roads behind the hangers. With few landmarks to gain your bearings the final regularity of 4.3 miles (all on site!!) saw a number of crews fail to find all 5 timing points.

The event had been a great success and many crews asked when the next event “Challenge” was to take place, with several commenting that they hoped it wouldn’t be a year away.

Amongst the notable awards were:

Best overall performance on the tests – John Ruddock (car70)

Best performance on the Regularity – Mathew Warren (car 57)

First overall on the Clubman event went to Michael and Simon Baker (car 33 – Porsche 911)

First overall on the National B event was taken by Andrew Buzzard and Rob Lyne (car 51 – Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint)

The overall performance of Howard Warren meant that (subject to ratification by the HRCR) he had beaten John Ruddock to take the HRCR championship honours.

Thanks to everyone who had helped to make the event such a great success and Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin has already started on some ideas to make the 2012 event just as enjoyable and challenging.

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