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25th Le Jog Reliability Trial

Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation

7th-10th December 2019


Photographs: HERO/ERA

Winners Photo
Category 0: Stuart Anderson/Emily Anderson (Bentley Derby 4¼)
Winners Photo
Category 1: Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor (Volvo Amazon)
Winners Photo
Category 2: Kevin Haselden/Gary Evans (Mini Cooper S)
Winners Photo
Category 2: Stewart Christie/Andy Ballantyne (MG B GT)
Winners Photo
Category 3: Richard Boughton/Paul Bosdet (BMW 2002 Tii)
Winners Photo
Category 4: Eric Michiels/Aswin Pych (Porsche 924S)

Organiser: Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation

Date: 7th-10th December 2019

Clerk of the Course: Guy Woodcock

Route: 1,500 Miles

Countries: Great Britain

Starters: 83

Eighty-three crews lined up at Land’s End to tackle the 1,500 route to John O’Groats, the 25th edition of the Le Jog. All were aiming to gain a medal, there are no overall awards on the event. All crews started on gold medal status, but had to visit all 90 controls and tackle 17 tests to be on the medal table at the Finish. Those losing fewest medal points in each category would get the coveted gold medal. Medal points are lost for being a minute late at any timing point, gaining a wrong approach or depart from a control, missing a route check, or being over a given target slower than the fastest car in a class on a test.

The main talking point at Land’s End was a bout of food poisoning that had struck a number of individuals. Significantly Tim Willcocks was unable to make the start, and he and navigator David Bardwell had to withdraw their Volvo 122s from the contest. Richard Lambley, due to navigate Stuart Anderson in the latter’s Bentley Derby 4¼, was also incapacitated and his place was taken at short notice by Stuart’s daughter Emily, his regular co-driver on HRCR events.

The first car took the start at 07:30 on Saturday morning; competition starting with the traditional test around the headland path. It was no surprise that the fastest on this test were Thomas Bricknell/Roger Bricknell, they went on to be quickest on the next two tests as well. Seven crews lost any chance of a medal almost straight away as they missed to collect a secret check between the first test and the first regularity.

The pre-war cars had problems on the second regularity over Bodmin Moor as a group of shooters parked their vehicles on a track that the competitors should follow. The likely leading contenders for gold medals emerged at this early stage with Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham and Richard Boughton/Paul Bosdet picking up least penalties on Regularity 1, while Eric Michiels/Aswin Pyck were best on Regularity 2.

Lunch was taken at a regular Le Jog venue, Betty Cottles near Okehampton. At this point seven crews were on gold medal status, with 55 still on the medal table, split between silver, bronze and the blue riband. In the pre-war Category 0 Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall held gold, after Bill Cleyndert/Leigh Powley picked up a stop astride fault on Test 1/3 at Indian Queens clay pits, the ten second penalty losing them a medal point. Significantly, also at the quarry, Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor were adjudged to have taken a wrong test; a penalty that may have lost Dyas the Test Pilot Award at the Finish.

A regularity, which finished near Crediton, preceded a run up the M5 to the fourth regularity of the event using lanes either side of the motorway between Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-Super-Mare. Jayne Wignall/Kevin Savage put in the best performance on both of these; this was good news for the driver who was battling for the HERO Cup title.

A test and a very demanding regularity at the Caerwent MoD base greeted competitors as they entered Wales. The onslaught of junctions and controls within the base caused confusion for many, especially those who hadn’t been there previously. Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor and the ever present Bricknells were fastest on the test, while Dyas/Taylor blasted the rest of the field being almost a minute quicker through the regularity.

At the End of Leg halt at Magor there were still 46 crews on the Medal Table, with Paul Wignall/Mark Appleton and Simon Harris/Dan Middle still not having lost any medal points. Competitors got two hours rest at the halt before embarking on the night leg through the Welsh lanes; this was to include a run over Abergewsyn, Nant-yr-Moch and the Dolgellau Maze. This was all before the notorious time control that started near Corwen and took crews over Llantysilio Mountain to the ‘overnight’ halt at Chester; the first wasn’t scheduled to arrive at the halt until 03:45. To add to the challenge, the weather was atrocious, with heavy blustery rain.

By Chester there were just 27 crews on the Medal Table, although there were now eight on Gold. These included Bill Cleyndert/Leigh Powley in Category 0; however, they were to retire at Chester as their Ford Model A’s engine dropped a valve. Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall had disappeared from the Medals as they had missed a timing point near Pendam. This all meant that Stuart Anderson/Emily Anderson were the only competitors in the Category on the table and so, if they managed to visit all the remaining controls, they would be assured a gold medal. Michael Kunz/Sue Shoosmith also withdrew at Chester as they found that their Dodge Senior Six simply didn’t have the power to maintain the pace needed.

In Category 1 Paul Wignall/Mark Appleton, who had been on Gold and leading their class, withdrew after picking up more punctures than they had spare tyres.

Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor were on Gold in Category 1, four medal points ahead of Kurt Vanderspinnen/Bjorn Vanoverschelde. Dyas/Taylor were the only crew not to pick up any penalties on the final Time Control section. In Category 2 there were three cars on Gold, all having lost 9 medal points; these were: Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham, Kevin Haseldene/Gary Evans and Stewart Christie/Andy Ballantyne. Category 3 Gold was held by Richard Boughton/Paul Bosdet, while Thomas Bricknell/Roger Bricknell and Simon Harris/Dan Middle were tied for Gold on Category 4; the former crew having lost time with a puncture.

Sunday’s Leg 3 ran from Chester up through Lancashire and Cumbria to a full overnight halt on the Scottish border at Gretna. It contained five tests and five regularities. The Bricknell’s were fastest on three of the four tests that opened proceedings and second fastest on the other. Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham were adjudged to have failed to stop astride at the finish line on Test 3/3; this meant that they lost a vital medal point and fell to Silver.

An excellent Leg saw Eric Michiels/Aswin Pych take least penalties on two of the regularities and moved from Silver at Chester to Gold at Gretna, having been on Bronze at Magor. They shared the medal in Category 4 with Thomas Bricknell/Roger Bricknell. Simon Harries/Dan Middle dropped to Silver after losing two medal points, having been over a minute late at two regularity timing points during the day. Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor, still on Gold, had put in the best performance over the Leg, including picking up the least penalties on the monster regularity that preceded the night halt and that ran through the South Tyne Valley.

Leg 4, like Leg 3, opened with tests, one at a farm near Lockerbie, with two more at the Kames Kart Track. The Bricknell’s took fastest time on all three. However, they were to lose time at the first regularity timing point of the leg; they made an error and dropped a minute. This dropped them to Silver behind Eric Michiels/Aswin Pych.

Stuart Anderson/Emily Anderson were still on Gold, concentrating on visiting all controls, rather than their time penalties. They even had to contemplate leaving one regularity as they ran low on fuel, but managed to stay on course and make the time control, with time to spare and petrol in the tank. Both Haseldene/Evans and Christie Ballantyne in Category 2 didn’t lose medal points on the Leg and arrived at the Kyle of Lochalsh End of Leg halt still tied on Gold. With these two not making any errors, Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham, despite also losing no points, remained on Silver.

Weather conditions now consisted of heavy rain and gale force winds, making life difficult especially for marshals and those competitors in open top cars. The route took crews up the west coast of Scotland for the first time in a number of years. This meant that there were fewer regularities, but more passage controls and route checks. It was a nerve racking time for those on Gold as, despite tiredness, they had to concentrate and avoid any errors. Stuart Anderson/Emily Anderson continued to lose medal points, but this was of no importance as, with no one else in Category eligible for a medal, they simple had to get all the controls. To their immense relief and pleasure, they succeeded, reaching John O’Groats with their Gold secure. Meanwhile Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall took the Class win.

Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor took Gold, won Class 2 and finished with the least penalties of any competitors, their total being three minutes less than anyone else. Taylor also won the coveted Clockwatchers Award, for least total penalties on the 25 regularities. Kurt Vanderspinnen/Bjorn Vanoverschelde won Class 3 and secured the Silver Medal in Category 1.

Kevin Haseldene/Gary Evans and Stewart Christie/Andy Ballantyne, both completed Leg 5 without losing any more medal points and so Category 2 had two Gold Medal winners, while the two crews won their respective classes.

In Category 3 Richard Boughton/Paul Bosdet were the Gold Medal winners; they were also Class 6 winners, finishing over 30 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals. Class 7 was won by the Citroen D Super5 of Karel Kolkman/Roeland Heuff.

After two Silvers on previous Le Jogs, Eric Michiels/Aswin Pych finally made it Gold in 2019. They were also the clear winners of Class 9 in their Porsche 944. Thomas Bricknell/Roger Bricknell finished with one more medal loss and so were the Silver Medal winners in Category 4. They did have the consolation of winning Class 8, while Thomas won the Test Pilot Award. The Bricknell’s drop from Gold to Silver, pushed Simon Harris/Dan Middle to Bronze.

From the 83 starters, 22 featured on the final medal table. Six crews gained Gold, four were on Silver, while there were just three Bronzes. Nine crews completed the whole route outside the medals and they were awarded Blue Ribands.