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RAC Rally of the Tests

Howard Warren / Iain Tullie are winners of Rally of the Tests 2015!


Wednesday 4th November.

Good evening from Slaley Hall Hotel & Spa where we have just opened for scrutineering and documentation. We have a very damp and misty night here in Slaley, we’ll post some images from scrutineering soon. You can follow us on this page, twitter (@hero_cra), Instagram (herorally) and youtube (herorally). Of course, all the latest news and information will be live first on this page!

Paul Bloxidge is first through scrutineering and documentation, Paul is reporting his freshly rebuilt engine and gearbox are performing well and is looking forward to the event with Les McGuffog who is joining us later tonight.

David Stanley / Bernard Northmore have arrived with their Austin-Healey 3000, despite passing the MOT last week an indicator bulb caused a little consternation at scrutineering.

Peter & Hellen Morris have opted to use their Volvo 123GT for this year’s event, after the Vale of Clwyd Classic in September they had fuel range problems and have now installed a new fuel tank giving them a 400 mile range! As well as this, the new tank sits more over the rear axle and doesn’t affect the handling at all.

We are waiting to hear from Jayne Wignall / Peter Rushforth – yesterday Jayne reported some clutch issues and was unsure if the Alfa would be with us for the start.

There is a massive battle raging between Paolo Maracattilij / Christian Crucifix as to who will clinch the FIA Historic Regularity Championship, either Paolo and Christian have to finish in front of the other to clinch it, We’ll keep you posted.

Michael Moss / James ‘Parker’ Ewing have arrived after a long journey up from the south coast of England, they report some carburation problems that are causing a little concern.

Paul Crosby is enjoying his new 2.2S spec engine in his 911, the car is quicker but needs to be kept on song.

Andrew McAlpine / Fred Gallagher report that brake problems following last year’s Le Jog have been cured, the beautiful sounding Lancia Fulvia HF now back to it’s pristine self after a visit to the scenery.


Thursday 5th November.

The first cars are leaving the start at Slaley Hall and are straight into action with a test in the magnificent grounds of the Hotel. At 17:30 exactly Bill Ainscough & Jason Dearden were flagged away by Event Director, Jeremy Dickson to start the prologue. Leaving Slaley Hall behind and heading into the muggy and misty lanes of the area, crews made the 5.3 mile journey to the first regularity section named Hexham Hills. The route for this section was presented Jogularity style to ease the crews into the event, using the lanes just south of Hexham this was a 9.28 mile test that held fords and a few tight hairpin junctions.

Following this, a short hop via Whitley Chapel brought the start of the second regularity section of the night, simply named Slaley, this was the first section that took crews into the woods with all of it’s three timing points situated within the Slaley Forest complex, it proved a little interesting for quite a few crews with a tight hairpin left junction meant a new manoeuver was christened – the Slalely Shuffle!

Howard Warren / Iain Tullie are the overnight leaders with eight seconds of penalties on the regs and two on the tests, they are being pushed by Frank Lenehan / Patrick McCollum in their Mini Cooper in 16 seconds total penalties. Rachel Vestey / Owen Turner had a bad start to the event as their head gasket let go, causing the car to cut out, some superb spanner work by Owen and the HERO Assist team saw them replace the faulty part in under an hour.

Another crew that have had past problems are Bob & Sue McClean who’s Ford Anglia had real fuel problems, we are happy to report that this has been cured and last year’s nightmare where the car wouldn’t run in Buxton are well behind them. Mechanical issues seem to have hampered a number of crews tonight, Stephen Owens / Iain Mitchell had to hastily re-set their Porsche 911’s points after they had furred up prior to the event whilst Peter and Douglas Humphrey’s PV544 snapped a throttle linkage in Slaley Forest, they have managed to limp back in to Slaley and have repaired the offending item. Many have found the forest incredibly slippy, Christian Crucifix / Joseph Lambert have mentioned that the mist and route has caused Christian to uncharacteristically hesitate, costing them time, they are leading Paolo Macetillij / Tony Brooks in the run for the FIA Historic Regularity Championship.

Phillip Haslam / Peter Fletcher have left their Jaguar behind for this event – choosing to use a Porsche 912 which Phillip hasn’t driven very much, a little overfuelling lead to the car flooding and cutting out, blocking the road in a regularity much to the embarrasment of the crew!

We set out tomorrow from 07:30 onwards, we’ll bring more news as we have it.

Good afternoon from Slaley Hall.

We’re gearing up for the start in just over five hours, most crews have arrived and completed documentation without problems. The weather is very overcast and misty with a slight breeze which will make the roads quite slippy as there are many leaves on the roads.

Clerk of Course Guy Woodcock has commented on the event, ” It looks like tonight will be a great introduction to the event for the crews, the mist and damp conditions are very likely to make things interesting! We’ve took onboard crews comments from past events and have tried to make this the best Rally of the Tests to date – a little easier maybe, but still with a challenging element that will appeal to all.”

Friday 6th November

After an early start from Slaley Hall, crews are now arriving at coffee at Leaplish Visitor Centre, Kielder Water after a regularity section and two tests. The second test was the first of  a group of three tests in the infamous Kielder Forests – they are proving to be incredibly slippy with the recent rain with some very quick sections to allow the drivers to stretch their legs.
First wrong slot of the event for Frank Lenehan / Patrick McCollum in their Mini on regularity one, this will have affected their overall position but there is still a very long way to go. Robin Eyre-Maunsell / Peter Scott have set a very quick time on the second test, a reported 1:24 pipping Andy Beaumont / Andrew Fish by just one second, however, it appears that Robin was a little over-exuberant and has added some patina to the vehicle, when asking navigator  if he was over enthusiastic, Peter replied “Well you were off the road with a large rock in the way!”.Ryan Pickering / Andy Ballantyne are reported to have clutch issues at the end of test two, we are awaiting their arrival here at Leaplish.

We have had a rare occurence on one of the road sections, a double junction caused legendary navigator Fred Gallagher problems – he wasn’t alone however as he came across David Morgan / Martin Taylor on the very same section….

Ryan Pickering / Andy Ballantyne have arrived at Leaplish after being towed into the car park by Stephen Owens / Iain Mitchell, it is looking a little uncertain if they can continue for the rest of day, the clutch actuating arm has stuck in the slave cylinder keeping the clutch fully depressed. We are also hearing that Colin Forster / Henry Carr have clutch release bearing issues and have just made it to Leaplish.

After two tests in Kielder Rally of the Tests 2015 is in Selkirk for lunch, the day has got progressively worse for two crews, Colin Forster / Henry Carr have picked up a puncture whilst en-route to lunch to try and have their ailing clutch release bearing repaired.

Regularity 1 / 2 has proved interesting for many crews, inspired use of the local topography and a very helpful fall of leaves around Hawick caught many crews out at timing point B with some top crews accruing penalties here, out of the thirty or so timecards we have at this moment, only ten crews have managed to escape large penalties.
Results up to lunch will be posted as soon as we have them.Also in the wars are Ted Gaffney / Brian Goff who have had their speedo cable snap, an attempt to fix it at morning coffee proved unsuccesful so it looks like their day is going to have a few penalties as the Mini’s trip meter isn’t working. Rod Hanson / Clare Grove had some mysterious cosmetic alterations to their Volvo on test 2- the bumper almost touching the off-side front tyre. A rapid fix from the HERO Assist crew saw the Volvo attached to the service truck and reversed sharply to put the errant piece of metal back to almost-new!

It has been a terrible day for Colin Forster / Henry Carr in their Mini, the suspected clutch release bearing has developed into a crankshaft related problem and they have retired to try and replace the engine to rejoin the event tomorrow. Peter Jan Smit / Geert van de Velde are another crew with woes, after reversing into a container after a wrong turning, they are another crew to have fuel problems- their Datsun 240Z has been filled up with diesel by mistake! At lunch there was a flurry of activity for the HERO Assist teams with no less than five cars receiving attention, David Alderson / Dennis Greenslade’s VW Beetle has heat exchanger problems, under acceleration the exhaust moves and is incredibly loud. Ted Gaffney / Brian Goff were having their speedo cable replaced and the 240Z of Smit / van de Velde was being relieved of diesel….

Fingland Fell hosted test seven, run the uphill way this has delighted many of the crews with a very flowing and open test. We are now at Drumlanrig Castle where afternoon tea is being enjoyed before diving straight into a test in the grounds.

As darkness draws nearer, the crews are anticipating the events first TC section in the Dundrennan area, this will be a real test for both sides of the car. However, the rain has ceased for a little while and if the weather stays like this it should help competitors immensely as they try to navigate the maze of lanes in the military complex.

In an epic night that had drama written all over it from the moment darkness fell, Rally of the Tests reputation for being one of the most challenging returned with a vengeance. We had been made incredibly welcome by the people of Dundrennan, they had opened their village hall for us and kept crews supplied with tea & coffee and a never ending supply of pastries and cake. Prior to this, David Alderson / Dennis Greenslade have had more problems with their VW Beetle after knocking the secondary oil filter off and running the engine without oil, possibly damaging a valve in the process, the vehicle is with the HERO Assist crews now, more when we receive it. Into the night and the first Time Control section of the event at the Dundrennan military complex, Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan were pressing on and uncharacteristically paid a visit to the scenery, their Porsche 911 becoming stuck as it slipped gently into a shallow stream. Keith Davis / John Youd have joined the ‘burn the candle at both ends’ club tonight, their MGB suffering clutch problems, Keith has elected to return to Chester to change the unit meaning a seven hour return journey with a two and a half hour slot to carry out the necessary work..

We are delighted to learn that Colin Forster / Henry Carr have replaced the engine in their Mini already! They are also running a mercy mission for Guy Symons / David Watson in the Riley 1.5 who have had differential problems, their car expired some 16 miles from Dumfries and is being recovered to have the diff fitted when it arrives. Great spirit and tenacity is very apparent across the event with crews making huge efforts to stay in the running.

Frank Fennel / Kevin Savage were going incredibly well in the TC section until their rear shock absorbers broke, leaving their Alfa Romeo’s handling leaving quite a bit to be desired, Andy Beaumont / Andrew Fish also experienced problems in the TC section after beaching their Sunbeam Rapier on a rock, they were able to extricate the Rapier and carry on though, losing quite a bit of time in the process. Roger & Leigh Powley were thoroughly enjoying the run through Dundrennan but were puzzled by an instruction that led them into what looked like a private house in the middle of the complex, after several attempts to find a code board they gingerly edged into the drive only to find it was indeed a military exercise prop and the code board was at the rear of the house! Sadly, we have lost Andrew McAlpine / Fred Gallagher in their Lancia Fulvia HF, another vehicle to suffer from clutch maladies.

Jonathan Hancox / Richard Lambley have dropped some time tonight on the last regularity section, they took a turn that went against both of their gut feelings and found they should have had the courage of their convictions, they weren’t the only ones with problems as David Morgan / Martyn Taylor have added some character to the rear of their Volvo…

Leaving Drumlanrig Castle crews took in the lengthy regularity of Corsock, what looked a simple six figure blackspot exercise causing one or two concerns for some crews. Then came the TC section on Dundrennan, seventeen controls with fourteen passage checks that kept crews pressing hard in the dark. Warren / Tullie seemed to have done very well here dropping a minute on one part and two on the other section, Andy Lane / Matt Fowle further stamped their mark on the event posting a fine two minute defiicit over the two sections. A final regularity to the east of Castle Douglas brought Rally of the Tests 2015 to its overnight halt in Dumfries, we are currently calculating the results and will post them as soon as they are completed.
Jan Ebus / Thijs Bender have had a scary moment today, the fuel line inside their Porsche 356 came apart due to a faulty clip and deposited petrol in the footwell. Both crew are ok but the fumes are causing Jan to suffer headaches. A crew back on the move are Ryan Pickering / Andy Ballantyne who have repaired their faulty clutch slave cylinder. This afternoon has seen the event set off from Selkirk and run throught the beautiful Eskdalemuir Forest – Peter Naaktgeboren / Bart den Hartog even stopping during a regularity to take pictures the scenery was that stunning. The first regularity of the afternoon was the infamous Castle O’er, which gave crews almost seven miles of the ex-RAC Rally stage in regularity format. The turning into the forest off the road caused one or two crews issues, Paul Bloxidge / Les McGuffog missing the turn and ending up with a hefty penalty, Bill Cleyndert / Dan Harrison were met by an approaching car and hesitated slightly – only to find that the first timing point was just around the corner. The leaders may have changed once again as Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan came across a strategically placed ‘NO’ board indicating they had taken the wrong route, the excursion costing them thirty seconds. Also in trouble in the woods were Gary Edgington / Pete Johnson in their Avenger Tiger, the car cutting out completely with an electrical failure, Gary was quick to rectify the fault but unfortunately the loss of power meant  the trip meter and clocks had re-set themselves, a great performance from Johnson on the maps saw them drop less than than a minute in penalties despite the lack of electronic aids. Ted Gaffney / Brian Goff are in the wars once again and are reported stopped in Castle O’er out of fuel.Gaffney / Goff run out of fuel in Castle O’er

Langley Castle, Hexham

After all the effort put in last night by Keith Davis to try and repair the clutch on his MGB GT and return to the event, the overdrive on the vehicle failed as he returned via the M6. As mentioned previously, the weather is incredibly wet with standing water on the majority of roads being used.

It would appear that the morning’s regularities have mixed the leaderboard up once again, Andy Lane / Matt Fowle have really struggled with their electrical problems, however, it seems that the problem may well be fixed allowing them to concentrate on keeping their position. After speaking with Matt, it would appear that he has struggled a little with the navigation this morning and may have dropped quite a few penalties. Philip Haslam / Peter Fletcher have had a deflating morning, a double puncture has cost the Porsche 912 pair hefty penalties.

The second regularity section of the morning was delivered on Deeliarity and it is this that has taken the most penalties, Matt Vokes had a great performance here and managed to transfer the route to the map to assist in navigation and finding any junctions that would cause consternation. Christian Crucifix / Joseph Lambert have struggled here, reportedly dropping two minutes plus, this may hand the initiative in the battle for the FIA Historic Regularity Championship to Paolo Marcatillij / Tony Brooks.

Symons / Watson were going well in their Riley but got stuck in a muddy section, beaching their freshly repaired vehicle, they are back on the road but are running very late. Robin Eyre-Maunsell / Peter Scott are recovering after fan belt problems this morning, the Escort is drawing many admiring glances wherever it goes, it sounds absolutely fantastic.

John Abel / Andrew Duerden have had a stormer this morning putting the woes of yesterday behind them, they are looking forward to the afternoon’s action, especially the TC section and tests later on the military ranges.

Petter Naaktgeboren / Bart den Hartog have had a fraught afternoon dropping a minute in penalties on the second regularity section, they had risen to fifth overnight and could well be in freefall.
A damp and dismal morning greeted crews as they left Dumfries after a long day yesterday, John / Peter Dignan are going incredibly well and are currently running first on the road. Three tests kicked the morning off, two at Dumfries local John Bogie’s premises which were incredibly slippy and one a little further down the road at Collin Quarry which in contrast was a little more demanding and muddy in places.

We are delighted to have the Riley 1.5 back of Guy Symons / David Watson back in the event, a swift differential change this morning has put them back on the road. Unfortunately, the leading car of Andy Lane / Matt Fowle are experiencing suspected alternator problems, they are struggling on and we will report more as we receive it.

We are at the Cross Keys at Canonbie at the moment, the next two sections will lead us to Langley Castle via Kershope and the South Tyne Valley.

Foresters Arms – Middleton in Teesdale MTC 2/5

Andy Beaumont / Andrew Fish are thanking their lucky stars this afternoon after a stone lodged between the tyre and rim of their Sunbeam Rapier, miraculosly the tyre stayed inflated and has allowed them to arrive at the time control. Following an excellent morning for Neil Wilson / Matt Vokes, an unusual error from Vokes has cost them thirty seconds in penalties.

Mike & Lorna Harrison have windscreen wiper problems and are battling on bravely through the awful weather we are experiencing, thankfully, the rain has stopped as crews reach Middleton in Teesdale. Speaking of damp conditions, Patrick & Hubert Lynch will be needing a change of socks tonight as their Mini stuttered to a halt in a ford, the HERO Assist crews are with them now and are getting them on their way. Unfortunately, Peter & Douglas Humphrey also dropped time at a ford when an MGB had succumbed to the forces of nature, their PV544 having no such trouble and they are with us here in Middleton. UPDATE, it is only Patrick Lynch who has damp feet – Hubert decided to stay in the car and let Patrick sort out the sogginess!

Tan Hill Inn – The highest pub in England.

Good evening from Tan Hill,the light is fading as crews are approaching us via Warcop military complex and five tests on the edge of light. Tan Hill is famous for many things – it has always been a rallying legend, the roads here are some of the finest in the UK and have been used in many championships and rallies over the years. John Bateson / Mark I’Anson were late into Tan Hill control, we have yet to determine the cause of their troubles.

As Clerk of Course Guy Woodcock left Warcop, the sun was shining – a total contrast to the other side of the valley! We hear that there has been even more movement at the top of the pile. David Morgan / Martyn Taylor made an error on regularity 2 / 4 costing them a minute. However, the excitement of Warcop seems to have gone to the head of some navigators, falling foul to a junction that had a similar signpost on a junction – but not exactly as described in the route instructions. John / Peter Dignan misread an instruction that has cost them an estimated 45 seconds, which would hand the lead to Warren /Tullie at the moment. The weather has closed in, just as crews are leaving now to head to Catterick military complex by a regularity named ‘Yorkshire Dales’ this has an allocated start meaning that as nice and cosy as Tan Hill is, crews have a limited time to start the section and cannot afford to tarry.

Saturday 7th November

Redworth Hall, Darlington

Howard Warren / Iain Tullie have re-taken the top spot in their Porsche 356C after a superb performance today, a leg total of just 4 minutes puts them in pole position for tomorrow with a lie in due to reverse seeding being applied. Neil Wilson / Matthew Vokes posted the second best performance of the day on 4:46, in third place just four seconds behind were the Powleys -despite a bad day at the office in Catterick.

In other news, it’s a tense day for the two crews who are contesting the FIA Historic Regularity Championship, a gruelling night for Christian Crucifix / Joseph Lambert saw them drop two minutes and four seconds behind Paolo Marcattilij / Tony Brooks into the last day, it really is all to play for in this section.

Firstly a thank you from one of the crews to another.. Rob van der Leeuw / Maurits Verhoef (Car 9) would like to thank Bill Ainscough / Jason Dearden for assisting them whilst in difficulty, a tow was needed from the Lancia crew to extricate the Alfa Romeo of the Dutch team.

We are waiting for crews to arrive at Redworth Hall, sadly, we have another retirement in Frank Fennell / Kevin Savage who have retired their Alfa Romeo Giulia with transmission problems on the Tan Hill regularity section.

The maze of lanes in Catterick has cost the majority of crews penalties, unofficial timings appear to indicate a great performance from Bill Cleyndert / Dan Harrison dropping nine minutes with all controls visited. Neil Wilson / Matt Vokes and Howard Warren / Iain Tullie tie on ten minutes but Roger & Leigh Powley failed to find a code board but had a fine run on ten minutes penalties. Jan Ebus / Thijs Bender have overcome their fuel problems to have a fine run on the TC section, only a puncture just before the last control slowed their progress, the crew very happy with their performance. Tony Sheach / Rob Kiff thoroughly enjoyed the TC section despite losing ‘shedloads’ (Rob’s words not mine!) of time. David Stanley / Bernard Northmore are another crew who have struggled today, three controls missed in the TC section will cost them dearly, they have made the end of day at Redworth Hall though and are looking forward to the final day tomorrow.

Frances Galashan / Michael Brooks may have clutch problems in their TR4 but have been exploring the handling capabilities of their vehicle to the full in Catterick, they are going to try and complete the route tomorrow and are looking forward to reaching Blackpool. The Austn-Healey of Rodger Vickers / Rachel Wakefield has been exploring tonight, a slight miscalculation from the crew meant they now have intimate knowledge of one of the many ditches in Catterick…

It sounds like Ryan Pickering / Andy Ballantyne have thoroughly enjoyed the TC, so much that Andy has declared it ‘The best fun he has had with his clothes on’, no doubt Ryan has made a huge contribution to the fun with his enthusiastic driving!

Reports are coming in that John Bateson / Mark I’Anson have had dynamo failure in Catterick and may not be able to continue, also, Michael Moss / James Ewing have axle problems, they are at Redworth Hall, looking to see if the Rapier can be repaired.

Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms 09:18

Bill Cleyndert / Dan Harrison suffer two punctures and are struggling to keep momentum going in Catterick, they are not the only ones with problems as Jon Amery / Ian Canavan have suffered similarly deflating circumstances – however, the wheels on the scimitar are different front to rear, quick thinking from Ian saw a temporary fix allow them to get to the HERO Assist crews.

Howard Warren / Iain Tullie have problems with the rear of their Porsche 356, the current leaders are in damage limitation mode to try and keep their lead alive. Paul Wignall / Ali Procter lose time in Catterick due to a wrong slot, they are back on track and heading away from Paul’s home territory very shortly..

Paul Crosby / Andy Pullan reported stopped with snapped steering arm, more as we hear it.

Crews are absolutely buzzing about the tests and regularity section in Catterick, Colin Forster / Henry Carr pick up yet another puncture!!

Dilwyn Rees / Tony Newman are reported parked up in Catterick, a jack under the car, problem unknown, both crew ok.

Good morning from Jervaulx Abbey, it’s a tense morning with everything to play for in the final leg of Rally of the Tests 2015. A short run from Redworth Hall sees the crews take in the first action of the day at Raby Castle where the surfaces are reported to be incredibly slippy. Passing through Ovington and heading south, a return to Catterick military complex will see three tests and a regularity section amongst the maze of lanes and tracks there, this will be a real test for all crews and could well provide anoither twist in the tale.. More as the crews arrive in Jervaulx in approximately 30 minutes.

Sunday 8th November

We’re awaiting the arrival of crews at The Village Hotel Blackpool, Dilwyn Rees / Tony Newman have retired with brake caliper issues during the Catterick regularity. Leaving Skipton behind and crossing into Lancashire, Rally of the Tests arrived in the ancient town of Gisburn where a substantial amount of spectators had gathered to watch the crews at the cattle market in the town. The flamboyance and skill of Andy Beaumont / Andrew Fish in their Sunbeam Rapier was greatly appreciated – the tail of the car being wagged at every opportunity, a beautifully executed slide around a hairpin left drawing cheers. It wasn’t all sweetness and light here as Bill Ainscough / Jason Dearden set off on the test only for the gearbox to cry no more, an unfortunate end to what has been a great first outing for the Lancia Aurelia.


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