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Summer Trial

2011 HERO Summer Trial -  Full Event Report

36 Trial entrants and 14 Tourers had signed up to the 2011 Summer Trial – the best entry since the inaugural event in 2008. The decision to accept an invitation from Panerai to be a part of the British Classic Yacht regatta had clearly been correct.

The cars had gathered at the Cowes Yacht Haven on Wednesday 20th July for the pre-event documentation and scrutineering formalities and, from the very moment that cars started to arrive, interest from local spectators and regatta entrants was high. Once all the formalities were complete, crews dispersed to their various hotels before coaches collected them for the journey to the Royal Yacht Squadron where they were to spend an enjoyable evening.

The pre-event black-tie dinner was hosted by The Royal Yacht Squadron and supported by the classic sailing yacht Orianda (first prize in the HERO cup) and AvIs – official support vehicle provider. As expected from such an illustrious organisation, the meal was excellent and time quickly passed. The evening concluded with a short speech of welcome from Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin, followed by a short history of the Royal Yacht Squadron and information on the Royal Navy Charity. As the evening drew to a close, the Naval officers and Royal Marines representing the charity were presented with a cheque from the organisers to help with their fund raising.

Crews returned to their hotels in readiness for an early start to the first of three gruelling but enjoyable days of competition. The cars were flagged away under the HERO start arch at the Haven and within 50 yards were into the first of three tests to take place on the esplanade at the Cowes Yacht Haven, at the very centre of the Regatta Village. Crowds soon began to gather and local television and radio crews were on the scene filming and interviewing crews and officials.

Tour competitors were not forgotten as they were given a photo opportunity under the arch before starting their day of exploring the island.

The weather was being reasonably kind with the forecasted showers staying away until after the first test had been concluded.

Following two regularities – one of which was a practice, to allow those new to Classic trialling to get used to the format of the event, the crews returned to Cowes for the second of the tests at the Yacht Haven. The crowds had grown and weren’t disappointed by the driving skills displayed by many of the crews. It was clear that the competitors were enjoying the venue and were determined to entertain the crowds. The Navy crew (Cpl Danny Keogh & LCpl Greg Harrold) showing just how manoeuvrable a long wheel base Landover can be.

A short regularity followed prior to the crews returning to Cowes for a BBQ lunch at the regatta village. A heavy rain shower during lunch did nothing to dampen their spirits or those of the waiting spectators, who were once again entertained by the crews at the final test of the day held once again in the arena set up in the Regatta Village – the weather again being kind as the rain stopped just as the first car was about to start the test.

The day concluded with a visit to Osborne House where the crews had a chance for a brief look around and a chance to catch their breath before taking the ferries to Lymington for the overnight stop at Brockenhurst. The spectacle of two Riley Brooklands being driven onto the car deck of the WightLink ferry causing much interest amongst the loaders and passengers. HERO are much indebted to Wightlink for their help and tolerance in getting all the cars both on and off the island during the busiest time of the year and helping us keep to our schedule.

Crews gathered at the Careys Manor hotel for the Thursday overnight to receive the news that ten crews had been in Gold medal position by the early afternoon, with Mark and Sue Godfrey in the MGB (Car 23) holding first overall at that time.

Friday morning will start with two tests in the arena at Beaulieu.


Day Two

Friday started with a clear indication that the weather had improved and that rain was unlikely. 29 Trial crews and 15 Tourers booked out of the Careys Manor Hotel control and headed towards Beaulieu for the first of two tests in the Arena outside the Motor Museum. The event timing had been set to allow the first test to coincide with the 10am opening of the museum to the public and very quickly spectators began to gather.

The first car to attempt the test was the 1930 Riley Brooklands 9HP of Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Jasmine Jenny. Tomas had only recently acquired the car and was still coming to terms with the different driving style compared with his usual competition car – a Porsche 911. However, it was clear he was fast learning how to handle the car.

Amongst other cars of note was the Aston Martin DB6 (car 27) of Christian von Sanden and Hanno Kirner. The car had originally been supplied by Aston Martin to a certain Paul McCartney who then continued to own it for several years. It eventually ended up back in the hands of Aston Martin who carried out a full “body off” restoration to showcase the skills of the Aston Martin Service Department. The car still has the original reel to reel tape recorder on which Paul is reputed to have recorded the lyrics of ‘Hey Jude’.

Having completed the first test, the crews were given 40 minutes to take a quick tour of the museum before returning to a redesigned second test. The crews found the tests enjoyable but challenging with several competitors finding alternative routes through the test than had been laid down on the test diagrams.

Crews were running about 20 minutes late by the end of the second run but no one seemed to mind as they were about to start the first of the day’s regularities through the New Forest, and half of the lost time was to be absorbed at lunch. Three regularities and a coffee stop took the crews to lunch at The George at Longbridge Deverill where they were to be greeted by a number of enthusiastic spectators, some of whom had brought their own cars. The staff at the George had surpassed themselves and they were determined that no crew member should leave without having had a generous amount of food.

Three further regularities in the afternoon took the crews to the Goodwood estate, where two tests were to take place. The first a slalom along the start straight of the famous Festival of Speed sprint, whilst the second was a more intricate but still very enjoyable test in the Cathedral Paddock. From there Triallers andTourers were allowed to drive up the Goodwood Hill in convey and at a low controlled speed behind the Clerk of the Course, Peter Nedin. Peter and HERO are indebted to Lord March and his family for allowing the crews to drive along such a noted piece of British Motorsport History.

The second day of the Summer Trial is always the longest, but the good weather and final section through the Goodwood Estate left the crews looking forward to repeating the tests at Goodwood on Saturday Morning. The Goodwood Park hotel was to be the overnight halt for Friday and Saturday and so crews had just a short drive from the end of the final test of the day.

Overall honours remained with Mark and Sue Godfrey in the MGB, whilst second place was taken by Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Lotus Elan Sprint. Third place at the end of day two went to Hubert and Diane Lynch in the Morris Mini Cooper S.

8 crews remain on Gold medal standard at the end of Friday with 5 on Silver and a further 4 on Bronze. A notable performance is that of Steve and Julia Robertson in a TR3 on their first Regularity Rally who remain on a Silver medal.

Saturday is to be a shorter day to ensure that sufficient time is given to the results team to prepare the final results prior to the awards dinner.


Day Three

The crews awoke on Saturday to find that a heavy shower had occurred overnight but that the sun was shining and we were to experience no rain for the rest of the day. The cars left the Goodwood Park Hotel and within minutes were into the first of the four tests to take place on the final day on the Goodwood estate.

Test one was held on the first section of the famous Goodwood sprint only a few hundred yards from the hotel entrance and the cars could be heard on the tests by other residents at the hotel all keen to know what the event was about.

From Goodwood the competitors visited the main control at Steep before the first Regularity of the day – a 13 mile section. After a brief coffee stop at Chilbolton, the second of the morning’s regularities ended at Tangley Bottom prior to a short road section to Wyke Down where the crews were to be treated to yet another superb lunch, with plenty of food available for all.

The sunny weather continued and after leaving lunch the crews were quickly into the first of the final two regularities of the day. The event was to conclude at the Goodwood Park Hotel after a final visit for two more tests on the Goodwood Estate.

As Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin dropped the chequered flag across the bonnet of each finisher as they passed under the arch at the Goodwood Hotel, it was clear from the smiles and comments from each of the competitors that the event had been a great success.

Results were declared final at approximately 7.20pm, just before competitors and officials departed for the awards presentation dinner at the Spreadeagle in Midhurst. Following dinner, Hanno Kirner from Aston Martin spoke for a few minutes on his enjoyment at taking part and at the pleasure of spending three days travelling around the countryside in the DB6 originally owned by Sir Paul McCartney. Just before the awards were presented, Robert McClean addressed the crews and competitors on the wonderful time he and Susan had on the S.Y. Orianda when they took up their prize of a week cruising the Mediterranean following their success at winning the HERO Cup in 2010.

One of the biggest cheers of the evening went to young Harry Short who was received the Clerk of the Course award from Peter in recognition of being the youngest person to have entered a HERO event. At 11 years of age he is too young to compete on a competitive trial, but was able to sit alongside his father to navigate him on the Classic Tour. Hopefully his success will encourage him to move on to competitive events when old enough.

First overall went for the second year running to Charles Colton and Mathew Warren in the BMW 3.0 CSL. This year in a BMW rather than the usual Porsche – showing that the crew can be successful in a variety of vehicles. Second place was taken by Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Lotus Elan Sprint, and third place went to Mark and Sue Godfrey in the MGB.

Full results can be downloaded from the website.

It was clear that the event had been a great success from the number of crews who commented that they would be entering other HERO events and would return for the Summer Trial in 2012.

The next HERO Summer Reliability Trial and Classic Car Tour 2012 will be held between the 12th and 14th July 2012. The outline route will be published before the end of this summer.

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