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HERO Challenge Three

A one day event

Congratulations to everyone who took part in and completed HERO Challenge Three 2023


The overall winners of HERO Challenge Three 2023 are:

1 – Stephen Chick & Alexander Chick – 1978 Datsun 260Z

2 – Jon Dunning & Ian Canavan – 1980 Ford Escort Mk II RS 2000

3 – David Liddell & Ed Liddell – 1963 Triumph TR4

Rally Report

*Steve and Alex Chick win HC3 and take both Driver’s and Navigator’s titles

*Simon Ayris heartache as his MGB hits brake trouble when leading by 20 secs

*Jon Dunning and Ian Canavan a superb 2nd in RS2000, David and Ed Liddell 3rd in TR4 after great performance

Steve and Alex Chick won the closest HERO Challenge finale yet by just three seconds, and with it both the HERO Challenge Championship for Drivers (Steve) and the HERO Challenge Championship for Navigators (Alex) after no less than 15 crew arrived at the start line for HC3 at the Garstang Country Club (Lancs). All were in with a winning chance across the 140 mile route to tussle over seven regularities and six tests.

Whilst the Chicks struggled on the last regularity with a tricky triangular piece of road with a ‘No Entry’ sign, the second place Ford Escort RS2000 of Jon Dunning and expert navigator Ian Canavan go it right (unlike many other crews) and dramatically ate into the Chick’s lead, but they just held on.

It could have been so different out front as Simon Ayris held a 20 second lead at the first break on Saturday, only for his rear brakes to fail at the end of Test 4 despite setting fastest times. He was out, and the one hand he had had on the HERO Challenge Championship Cup for Drivers lost its grip. He was naturally very upset, especially as they knew which brake parts needed replacing but the HERO-ERA Assistance crew couldn’t get there in time to help so Simon and navigator Matt Outhwaite went over the time limit. All Simon could say afterwards was, “I’m gutted.”

Jon Dunning was advancing towards the podium places early on in HERO Challenge Three as he set a string of fast times on the tests with navigator Ian Canavan calling the regularities expertly. Despite Jon feeling that without his mistake on one test ‘they could have won’ as he beat himself up a bit afterwards, he still won the ‘Test Pilot Award’ at Prize Giving for the fastest times overall on the tests. They did finish in a superb second place in the RS2000. Ian was very happy with the event; “It was pitched just right in every respect and most enjoyable.”

Navigator Ed and his father David Liddell who drove their Triumph TR4 to third place overall were both really chuffed to take the final podium position after they made an error on HERO Challenge One that cost them certain victory, “we were just happy to get that monkey off our backs,” said Ed with a look of relief on his face.

Fog greeted competitors as they crossed the higher parts of the Lancashire Moors on Saturday morning to tackle the regularities of Tarnbrook and Longridge Fell, but by the afternoon on the sunken and undulating surfaces of the Fylde Coastal Plain, the sun had appeared. These roads with bumps and dips that resembled the best mogul field, tested the car’s suspension to the limit and caused navigator’s eyes to lose focus as their drivers picked a path trying to regulate their speed.

Regularity five, Cuddy Hill had to be cancelled as there was too much flood water in the low lying area to make the road passable, but regularity seven, the final competition section of the rally, was the real humdinger.

In line with the HERO Challenge Championship plan of making each round slightly more difficult than the last, this was spot on as a triangular section of road with a ‘No Entry’ sign caused confusion and lost time for many. What wasn’t planned, but added to any delays, was a wedding party on a horse and cart!

As Harry Baines explained; “We were so close to them they were offering us champagne! Harry and Dick Baines dropped to thirteenth by the finish having both been in with a championship shout. However, Dick was still third overall in the driver’s championship and Harry was second overall championship navigator after consistent performances over the three 2023 HERO Challenges.

A commendable performance came from Patrick and Daisy Walker in their Alfa Romeo 1600 GT Junior, fourth place just outside the podium, although they had been up to second at one point. Daisy is a sixteen year old navigator who reached the final of the Bob Rutherford Scholarship for Young Rally Navigators in August this year and is a future star of the sport as her performance showed in the final HERO Challenge Championship of the year.

After the rally she was trying hard to convince her father Patrick to enter LeJog.

Graeme Compthwaite and navigator Lynsey Procter were mighty fast on the tests in their Morris Mini, the yellow machine was flying, and they won their class finishing a superb sixth overall having risen to third at one point. Lynsey said the last part of the day had gone a little bit wrong.

Steve and Alex Chick, HERO Challenge Three winners and HCC Driver’s and Navigator’s Champions.

Steve Chick; “You know what, it’s unbelievable. We didn’t think we had a chance because we didn’t do so well in Hero Challenge One, then we had a quite lucky time on challenge two. Today we thought we’d blown it but apparently we haven’t. So it’s just like a big surprise. We’re surprised as we very nearly blew it right the end. The very last timing point was a trick, but a trick that Ian Canavan got and we didn’t, and we would be seconds late, we could have lost a lot of our lead but thankfully we didn’t lose all of it”.

Alex Chick; ”What can I say? We are very happy and actually on each of the HERO Challenge events, there have been better navigators who have done amazing jobs. The Liddells today for example, but maybe we’ve done all right in terms of consistency, but it’s certainly been really great.”

Steve; “There’s been a lot of talk comparing this to our London to Lisbon win, some people have been slightly dissing us saying the HERO Challenge Three was more difficult, but actually the L2L was this today repeated over 10 successive days. And despite what Andy Pullan said, it was every bit as difficult as every day is as this was today.”

Jon Dunning, 2nd overall

“I think three seconds is not a lot but fair play, I made a mistake on one of the tests and we lost five seconds so I blame myself for not winning – maybe next time. Yeah, it’s a great result anyway, it was well organised. Great regs, great tests and actually the tests were better than I thought they were going to be!

We didn’t hit the grass, so no penalties. No problems with the triangle on the last reg but we got caught out by one car and that was a couple of seconds. The Ford was great which is good as this is also a shake down for the RAC Rally the Tests, we are ready to go!”

Ed and David Liddell, third overall

Ed; “Oh it was great. It was really good to get that monkey off our backs because we made a stupid mistake in the first HERO Challenge so it is nice to come back and smash it this time!”

David; “Yes, retribution is sweet and It was a great event. I really enjoyed it. I was a bit disturbed after the first two tests and we were like, fourth and fifth. And I thought maybe I’ve got to get a new car, then I thought, well, actually, maybe we just needed a new driver. But in the last four tests, we were back where we should be. So that was great, but it was good fun.”

Andy Pullan, making his debut as Clerk of the Course and route planner for HERO Challenge Three, didn’t have it easy in the build up to this event. Test venues were withdrawn requiring a last gasp re-route which was professionally handled by Pullan and the competition team, to the extent that nobody on HERO Challenge Three noticed. The same on event as the team were forced to cancel regularity five.

Andy was pleased overall as he knew everyone had enjoyed a cracking event. But as he summarised at prize giving and Steve Chick mentioned in his speech of thanks after receiving their winning awards; “After the PR programme of notifying as many as possible that the rally was happening, the reaction and support from the locals was impressive, they turned out in numbers to watch and cheer. In fact we have had emails coming in, one which said ‘what nice cars you have and what sensible people you all are,’ enough said!

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