Summer Trial 2015 has been won by Paul Crosby & Andy Pullan in their 1970 2.7 Porsche 911. The margin between them and second placed Chris White / Leigh Powley was just eight seconds, a testament to new route co-ordinator Ryan Pickering in planning and producing a route that was enjoyed by experts and novices alike. In third place were Steve & Julia Robertson in their trusty TR3, this was another great result for The Robertson’s, their second podium of the year – they narrowly edged out Barry & Roma Weir in their Mercedes-Benz 280 SL by just two seconds.
Based at the excellent Woodland Grange Hotel, Royal Leamington Spa, Summer Trial 2015 consisted of two legs that were preceded by a shorter prologue, taking place over the weekend of 22nd- 24th of May, the event allowed competitors to not only enjoy a weekend's motorsport with great hospitality, the compact format also meant time to return home and enjoy the remaining part of the Bank Holiday weekend – many crews chose to stay on in the local vicinity and take in the sights and sounds of this picturesque part of the UK.It wasn’t just about the experts though as Summer Trial is designed to encourage newcomers and novices to take part in regularity rallying, the route this year was situated in the leafy middle England lanes in the heart of the country.
Navigation was by way of simple tulip style “Jogularity” style instructions, newcomers were given pre-event tuition by HERO’S experienced Competitor Liaison Officer, Tony Davies, in the art of reading the notes. As well as the straightforward navigation, competitors were set the challenge of varied handling and manoeuvrability tests – these took place on private land and allowed drivers the chance to enjoy a mixture of intricate and challenging sections interspersed with more flowing and open sections that gave the crews something to get their teeth into. With such a broad age-range of cars, the route was designed to be fun yet challenging, a point that was achieved and was rewarded with the fact that all those who started the event completed the full route – there were no retirements.
Crosby & Pullan led the crews away from the start on Friday afternoon and over the duration of the 64.77 miles of the prologue they started to build an early lead. Starting out with a driving test at the nearby Stoneleigh Park, crews took in a loop which skirted the towns of Kenilworth and Leamington Spa, unusually, the first regularity was quite a lengthy affair at just over 20 miles in length and allowed competitors of all abilities to settle into the rhythm of the regularity sections. Keith & Nikki Daniels leapt into second place with Chris White / Leigh Powley in third.
The event saw several newcomers take part in their first regularity event, amongst them, Nina & Tony Julian took the journey from Kent in their 1958 Beetle they found the first leg a little taxing and ended the day at the base of the results. Cheryl Stone & Vivienne Ainsworth brought their Mini Cooper and were having great fun, despite several unplanned excursions off the route, they finished the event and were able to give Cheryl’s Husband Chris a big cheer as he collected third in class along with Peter Mason in their MGC at the end of the event.
Saturday dawned with a beautiful day, the leg started by heading west out to Shelsey Walsh Speed Hill Climb where crews had the chance to tackle the oldest motorsports venue in the world not once, but twice. Crosby & Pullan were flying here, however, a spirited attempt from Peter & Marion Foubister saw the Arrive & Drive Triumph TR4 pair take second fastest. There was time to sample the wonderful cake and coffee at The Stratstone Restaurant at Shelsley Walsh before heading south to skirt Great Malvern via a series of regularity sections and it was here that the first serious penalties of the event were lost, a series of instructions showing a long way round triangle that also had a speed change around them catching many of the crews out.
This wasn’t the only part of this regularity to prove challenging, another series of tulips close together mid regularity wasn’t picked up on by the unwary, dropping many points and seeing the leaderboard change swiftly. Crosby & Pullan dropped 58 seconds on this regularity with The Weir’s faring worse on 1:09. White & Powley capitalised on these mistakes and vaulted over the other crews into first, a great achievement for a pairing who met for the first time at scrutineering! Lunch was taken at The Oak Inn at Detford before a short run out took the event to Throckmorton Airfield for three driving tests, many crews commenting on how they enjoyed the flowing tests-allowing the drivers to stretch their vehicles legs. Clare & Peter Nedin were reported to be going well on these tests and it would appear that Clare’s flamboyant style had caused Peter to have white knuckles on a couple of occasions!
The last timing point of the last regularity on day two proved to be the turning point of the event, White & Powley missing a left turning and losing 25 seconds in the process, handing the lead back to Pullan & Crosby, this pair of crews would enter the last day with just five seconds separating them, Crosby’s natural speed and the class improvement system would go against the second placed White / Powley.
Tomas de Vargas Machuca / Richard Lambley had a superb run throughout day two until a brake caliper cried no more on one of the driving tests at Throckmorton, a well-effected repair from the HERO Assist crew saw them finish the event, despite dropping places from a crew change on day one. Adam Tibbs & Tim Lawrence brought out their stunning MG TD for a run round lanes which are quite local to Tim, again, the ingenuity and skill of the Assist team kept them in the running, despite them having such problems that the ignition coil ran so hot it boiled its coolant oil!
The final day was a tense affair, not only was a battle royale ensuing for the top spot, the battle for third was separated by fifteen or so seconds, as was the fight for the top beginners award, The Julian’s made an excellent recovery throughout Saturday to take first place in this class in front of Nigel & Susan Abbott in their MGB and Cheryl & Vivienne in their Cooper. The first regularity had a challenging junction just outside Broadwell village, what seemed to be just a farm track in the daylight was actually a ‘go-er’, the old adage of ‘trust your trip and road book’ ringing true with plenty falling foul to this innocuous little slot.
White & Powley were trying their best on the regularities, not even taking 2-3 seconds on various timing points could help them claw back the lost seconds from regularity seven on Saturday. The event headed to The Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon where two tests formed a large part of the proceedings at the “Gaydon Classic Car Show”, large crowds enjoying the spectacle of the competitors tackling two tests at the famous site. The battle for third was settled on this last section where The Weir’s were overhauled by the Robertson’s to take the final overall award, Maxime Mezger / Elise Whyte rounded off what was not only the best drive to date for Maxime, a superb showing from Elise put her as third placed navigator on the regularity sections.
A jubilant Paul Crosby sprayed champagne over his car and navigator Andy Pullan as they were proclaimed as victors of the Summer Trial 2015, when asked how his first HERO event win felt he replied “ We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this, it has been a Fantastic, well-organised event. The battle was tight all the way down the field. I feel for Chris and Leigh who we stood toe to toe with throughout the event, it means the world to win my first HERO organised event, I couldn’t have achieved this without the very talented Andy Pullan”.
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