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HERO Challenge One 2021


18th July 2021

HERO Challenge One
Winners: Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane (BMW 323i)
Photograph: HERO-ERA/Russ Otway

Organiser: HERO-ERA

Date: 18th July 2021

Clerk of the Course: George Mullins

Route: 8 Regularities, 10 Tests

Base: Chesterfield

Starters: 75

Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane made it a hat trick of wins on HERO’s 2021 summer events when they won the re-scheduled HERO Challenge One. The pair had already won the HERO Challenge Two and Summer Trial. As on those other two events, the BMW pairing's main challenge came from the Saab 900 Turbo of Alistair Leckie/Matt Outhwaite.

The Chesterfield based rally saw crews tackle eight regularities and ten tests in the Peak District. With a number of non-starters, seventy-five crews took the start from the Casa Hotel at 08:00 on Sunday morning. The 145 mile route was bathed in daylong bright sunshine.

Due to the likelihood of the lanes being busy with tourist traffic, tractors and cyclists, the joker system was implemented for the event. This would allow a crew’s biggest lateness penalty to be reduced to 15 seconds.

The opening two tests used the drives at Steve Perez’s Walton Grange home. Paul Hernaman/’Crow’ were fastest on the first, while the father and daughter team of Michael Pedley/Ciara Pedley were quickest on the second. The Volvo P1800 of Brian Yeomans/Andrew Yeomans stopped on Test 1 with fuel pump problems; this was fixed with the help of the event mechanics. The crew re-joined the fray after the coffee halt.

The first two regularities used lanes to either side of Chatsworth House and after them McQueen/Cochrane had accumulated just two seconds of penalties and led Pete Johnson/Paul Crosby, who were on four seconds. The latter pairing was a last minute combination; Johnson had originally been scheduled to navigate for John Lomas in a Riley, however the driver had to withdraw and so Johnson swapped seats and drafted in Paul Crosby on the maps. Crosby had only just arrived back from Spain, where he had won the Classic Marathon – in the driver’s seat.

The third regularity was the longest of the rally; it contained six timing points. The first of these was on a tricky triangle junction, but few were caught out by the intricate set of tulips defining the route here. A hitch was then encountered; a set of roadworks with traffic lights had been set up the previous day on the route, many crews were severely delayed. The following timing point was therefore altered to a passage control and competition was restarted from there.

While the first timing point hadn’t caused many issues, the fourth did. This was located in the yard at Ludburn Farm, access was via a track. Many crews triggered their joker as they picked up a maximum one minute penalty finding the correct route; this, of course, made them vulnerable if they were later delayed by non-competing traffic.

The farmyard caused no problems for Leckie/Outhwaite, they arrived at the timing point at precisely the correct time. In fact, they had hit every single control on schedule on both the second and third regularities; at eight successive TPs they had collected zero penalties. This performance put them into the lead after Regularity 3. McQueen/Cochrane were demoted to second, eight seconds off the lead.

Another last minute pairing, that of Nick Pullan/Andy Pullan were now in third. Having dropped only three seconds on Regs 2 and 3, they were just two seconds behind McQueen/Cochrane. Pullan was a last minute substitute for Ian Canavan and was recently returned from navigating Paul Crosby to victory on the Classic Marathon. Pullan/Pullan struggled a little in the afternoon as dirt in the fuel feed caused their Imp to develop a misfire. They persisted and came home to clinch third place at the end of the day.

The fourth regularity caused some trouble for the two leading crews, both were delayed by tractors, the incidents triggered their jokers. After the section, Leckie/Outhwaite still led, but McQueen/Cochrane had closed the gap between them to six seconds.

A struggle to find the entrance to Lisburn Farm and a couple of problems on Reg 4, saw Johnson/Crosby fall to 12th place. A good run in the afternoon enabled them to recover to fourth overall and a class win at the Finish.

A series of six tests led to the lunch halt. All these used farm tracks at various locations north of Leek. Michael Pedley was fastest on four of these and no lower than third on any of them. He wa quickest again at the final test at Walton Lodge to ensure that he won the Test Pilot Award for the event.

McQueen/Cochrane were fastest in their class on five of the six tests and second fastest on the other, so added two seconds to their total. Leckie/Outhwaite, running in the same class, picked up 35 seconds across the tests. This gave the lead back to the BMW pairing, while the Saab crew fell to third, behind the Mini of Tim Green/Melanie Green. The latter crew had a disastrous fifth regularity and added over a minute to their total, falling to eighth as a result.

The lunch halt was followed by four regularities; the event ending with two further runs through Steve Perez’s drive. McQueen/Cochrane added ten seconds to their total at the first timing point of the afternoon, after they were adjudged not to have stopped astride the timing line. After the section, Leckie/Outhwaite were back to second, but still 23 seconds off the lead.

By the end of the final regularity this gap had been reduced to 9 seconds, but that was as close as it got. McQueen/Cochrane were, once again, fastest in their class on the two closing tests, while Leckie/Outhwaite added 12 seconds to their penalties. The two crews finished 21 seconds apart.

For his performances over the eight regularities, Matt Outhwaite picked up the Clockwatchers Award.

Master crews were allowed to enter the Challenge, however, as usual, they weren’t eligible for overall awards. There were five starters in the class. The battle for the class win proved to be a battle between Darren Everitt/Susan Dixon and Noel Kelly/Nick Bloxham. As on the HERO Challenge Two, it was the Triumph crew of Everitt/Dixon who took the win. Their total penalty was two seconds more than McQueen/Cochrane.

After two of the three HERO Challenges, the battle for the 2021 Challenge Cup is obviously being fought between McQueen/Cochrane and Leckie/Outhwaite. In the drivers’ section McQueen, thanks to additional points for overall and Test Pilot placings, has a lead of 12 points over Leckie. Things are closer in the Navigator race: Cochrane has 35 points, with Outhwaite on 32.