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70 crews  started the XVII Land’s End to John O’Groats Reliability Trial and Tour on Saturday 10th December

There were crews from the UK, Europe and America driving, between them 7 Mercs, 7 Triumphs, 6 Minis, 5 MGs, 4 BMWs; 4 Porsches; 3 Volvos; 3 VW's and many more.

Wednesday 9th December

With just days to go before the start of Le Jog, there is a real buzz developing with crews and organisers alike. Interest in the event is growing by the hour and there have been a large number of requests for spectator information. The entry list covers cars from the 1930’s up to the early eighties and includes such exotic machinery as a Riley Special to a Morris Marina prepared and crewed by a team from Practical Classics. Even the weather seems to know that Le Jog is on its way with snow already causing snow gates to be closed in Cumbria. Fords on the route are expected to be in full flow and the course officials will be working hard to keep the event on track.

Several crews will be raising money for charity, whilst Julian Burch (car 19) is doing the event in his father’s Semi-works Hillman Imp which was used on a number of events in the 1960’s including the Scottish and RAC Rallies. Paul Burch died last year and Julian started looking for an event as close to the early RAC’s as he could find – he found Le Jog. Julian’s co-driver Clark Dawson restored the car and agreed to co-drive on the event. Le Jog is one week later this year than usual and by a strange coincidence will be running on Paul’s birthday, 12th December.

Thursday 8th December

Land’s End on a windy Thursday evening in December must mean that Le Jog is about to get under way. Clerk of the Course, Peter Nedin, arrived to find the navigation talk by Tony Davies in full swing.

The spirit of Le Jog is strong in its dedicated followers which has already been shown by two crews.

David Kirkham and Kevin Haselden (entered in a 1967 Morris Mini) having discovered a problem with the car as they were about to set off and quickly got a second Mini ready.

Peter & Clare passed Robert and Susan Maclean in the Rover P4 100 on the Motorway near Taunton – all seemed well. Peter received a telephone call from Susan in the evening to say that the Crankshaft oil seal started to leak (after they had passed them). They turned around and headed home to Barrow-in-furness, Cumbria, where Robert is at this moment putting the engine back in his Anglia with every intention of making the start. What dedication!!

AND the event hasn’t even started yet!

Friday 9th December (from Land’s End)

The weather was kind to the scrutineers and crews at Lands’ End on Friday as the wind dropped and the sun came out – at least for a while as the odd shower did cause crews to have to take cover in the marquee. For the first time since JOG was created, scrutineering took place in a specially erected marquee, which was firmly staked into the ground.The free coffee and tea available to all crews and officials at scrutineering was very welcome in the brisk Land’s End air.

At 11.45pm several crews still have yet to arrive; the Macleans had worked through the night to prepare the Anglia and arrived in Cornwall late in the evening. Robert and Edward Kiff (originally car 12) had pre event problems with the Beetle causing them to return home to collect another car. Martin Emmison and Adrian Biggs had water pump problems together with a puncture; However, a trip to a mechanic quickly had the problem resolved and the Master Cylinder in the Range Rover of Patrick Burke cried enough and had to be changed. The dynamo of one of the Dutch cars burnt out about 20 miles from Land’s End. Fortunately one of the HERO local marshals was passing. He followed them to the hotel, waited while the part was removed and then took it to a mechanic he knew to be rebuilt overnight.

The buzz was very noticeable at the traditional pre event Black Tie dinner with everyone looking forward to the morning. Alarm clocks are set for 5am with breakfast being served from six. The first car will tackle test one – around the track on the cliffs at Land’s End at 7.45.

Saturday 10th December (from Land’s End)

Crews started at Land’s End under a clear & bright sky. The first test caught out the unwary as a subtle change had been made to the traditional first test of Le Jog.

The Mini of Patrick & Huber Lynch suffered with a broken throttle cable half way through the test and in order to quickly move to a point where it could be worked on Patrick sat on the front of the engine holding the throttle slightly open to provide enough forward motion.

The Practical Classic crew started dressed in dark suit / white shirts and black ties – it remains to see how long the ties stay on.

All ten Tourers were allowed to drive slowly through the first test for a photo opportunity.

Lunch at Betty Cottles and most crews have gig smiles, clearly enjoying the tough challenges already set.

Crews are now heading for Cardiff Gate Services

Saturday 10th December (from Cardiff Gate)

Leg one came to an end at Cardiff Gate where crews encountered two tests in the overspill car park – in front of several lorry drivers who had parked up for the night at the end of the site.

A delay at a previous test had resulted in crews facing the possibility of being over maximum lateness and so Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin extended penalty free lateness at Cardiff by an additional 30 minutes.

Several cars had suffered during the day. The Anglia of the Meacleans had suffered alternator problems resulting in Bob having to work on the car at lunch. The problems with the Mini of Lynch continued and they were eventually forced to retire.

Crews are about to face the daunting Welsh night leg – a series of time controls ending in Telford – What will Sunday bring?

Sunday (11th) morning from Telford.

Of the 51 Trial cars and 10 Tour entries that started from Land’s End on Saturday morning, all 10 tourers and 44 of the trial crews arrived at Telford in the early hours of Sunday morning. As promised by John Kiff, the new route coordinator, the night navigation section & regularities through Wales were tough and unrelenting. The test at the Llangorse Activity Centre being conducted in the dark with lights on the cones.

Crews were under pressure all night, but the grins on most of the tired faces at Telford was proof that the majority were ‘enjoying’ the challenge.

Charles Graves & Ron Palmer (Car 13) were forced to retire at Telford due to mechanical problems. Whilst Marjus Kirchgeorg & Bernd Pillenstein had encountered terminal dynamo problems with the Mercedes (car 24) leading to an early retirement.

Julian Burch & Clark Dawson (car 19) in the Hillman Imp in order to change the transaxle unit due to gearbox problems – fortunately they had a spare! They plan to return at Gosforth

Sunday (11/th) Tan Hill Inn

The cars left running restarted from the Telford// Whitehouse and headed for the first of five testsbefore lunch at the Aspinall Arms. The first test was at a hotel in the Macdonald Group. Setting up of the test at the Tickled Trout (J 31 M6) could not take place until the hotel laundry lorry was loaded. All the marshals and HERO officials on site got involved and the driver said he had never been loaded so quickly – what was he now going to do for the rest of the morning!

Before lunch crews tackled tests at Menheim Auctions and Red Rose Hub. After lunch crews tackled the first section with snow on this year’s Le Jog on their way to Tan Hill Inn. In fact the snow was so thick it completely blocked one regularity and the Ford at Frosterley was too deep to allow the test to take place.

Monday (12th) Lunch halt Livingston

Sunday evening took the crews to a new test venue near to Frosterly and Stranhope Lafarge site once the location of a massive cement works. All buildings and equipment having been removed, the site provided HERO with a perfect location for three tests run in the dark with lamps illuminating cones.

The weather had turned wet & cold, with sleet being experienced on the high ground but this did not dampen the ardour of the competitors. Such was the size of the site 54 marshals were needed (HERO would like to thank all marshals for their help throughout the event).

A regularity leading to a test at Derwent Reservoir and drive to Gosforth concluded the day for most crews. Not so the Macleans who were still being plagued by Alternator problems. Bob telephoned Peter (Nedin) at Eastage, who handed to phone to Peter (Elliott). Several phone call later and Peter (Elliott) had located a replacement alternator but it could not be collected until 9am Monday.

Bob & Sue were then booked into a pub near to the location of the alternator. The Anglia was back in the running by mid-morning and Peter (Nedin) was able to hand over part of the navigation instructions at the Raceways Test.

Monday mornings test ran smoothly with the final test before lunch, at Livingstone, taking place at Raceways Kart circuit where crews discovered Scottish television cameras filming a piece for the evening news broadcast.

41 trial cars and 9 tourers had started Monday morning including the repaired Imp. The Anglia of Robert & Suesan makes 42!

Monday 12th (Evening)

As the light started to fade & crews left Livingstone, reports started to come in that the weather was deteriorating fast. As the Tour crews and course officials reached the Trossachs Service Area and the test at Forest Hills it was discovered that Duke’s Pass had been officially closed. A quick recce lead the officials to conclude the closure as due to ice.
Whilst the officials were deciding on a course of action, a police traffic officer appeared and advised that he would check on the state of the road. He drove the section and returned to advise that the ice had cleared, the road closed signs were officially removed – preventing a lengthy re-route.

The regularity leading to the mid-evening break as Kinloch Rannoch had to be cancelled when it was found that heavy rain and stormy weather had brought down  trees making the regularity unworkable.

On his way to the rest halt, Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin decided to check the Trinafour Regularity. He discovered that on a matter of only 200 meters the temperature dropped to Zero and the heavy rain changed to snow – within minutes the main part of the regularity had become a skating rink and Peter decided that the road was unsafe. Regularity X was cancelled as crews were rerouted to the A9. The weather continued to deteriorate throughout the Highlands and an almost total ‘whiteout’ caused a number of crews difficulties.

The snow changed to sleet nearer to Avimore. However, the ice and ungritted minor roads presented crews with difficulties throughout the night. A test in the dark at Little ferry together with navigation and Jogularity sections concluded with breakfast at Lybster. The now traditional short Regularity at the end of the event took crews to a new test at John O’Groats with a number of locals turning up to spectate. Forty One trialists and severn tourers passes under he finish barrier – all with smiles and with plenty of encouraging comments.

2011 was clearly a year to remember

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