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Le Jog Reliability Trial


3rd-6th December 2022


Photographs: HERO-ERA

Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Category A: Bill Cleyndert/Emily Anderson (Bentley 3-4½)
Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Category B: John Kiff/Rob Kiff (VW Beetle)
Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Category C: Jayne Wignall/Kevin Savage (Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprint)
Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Category D: Kevin Haselden/Ryan Pickering (Mini Cooper S)
Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Category E: Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane (BMW 323i)
Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Category F: Simon Mellings/Karl Ellis (Rover 216)

Organiser: HERO-ERA

Date: 3rd-6th December 2022

Clerk of the Course: Guy Woodcock

Deputy Clerk of the Course: Nick Reeves

Route: 1,500 Miles, 33 Regularities, 17 Tests, 1 TC Section

Countries: England, Wales & Scotland

Starters: 49

The 27th Le Jog Reliability Trial gave competitors little time to relax into the event. After the traditional opening test around the Last and First House, crews tackled three regularities in Cornwall before their first break.

The familiar Test 1.1 claimed a significant victim; Thomas Bricknell/Roger Bricknell, one of the favourites for a Gold Medal, clipped a stone litter bin, which threw the back end of the Golf GTi into a large boulder, breaking a rear wheel. They managed to get the car fixed, but missed the rest of Leg 1 and all of Leg2, re-joining the rally on Sunday morning.

Also in trouble at this early stage were Nick van Praag/Nathan Vandekerckhove (Austin A35); they completed the tests and then went to the opening Main Control. They lost two medal points as a result.

Sixteen crews remained on Gold Medal status by the time that the event reached the St Mawes Hotel and a coffee break. The hotel is owned by David Richards and the Motorsport UK Chairman was there to welcome competitors.

The final timing point on the third regularity, which preceded the stop, caused some difficulty; a number of crews, including Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham (Porsche 911 SWB), picked up a maximum one minute penalty, and lost a medal point, here. Eight cars missed to find the marshal and therefore were no longer eligible for a medal.

Two tests and a further regularity completed the competition in Cornwall and the route moved into Devon for one more reg before the lunch halt, which was near Okehampton. Wrong Departs were awarded to several cars at a timing point on the fifth regularity. Significantly these included John Kiff/Rob Kiff (VW Beetle), who dropped from Gold to Silver as a result of the two medal points lost due to this error.

At the lunch halt nine crews remained on Gold, seven with no medal losses at all. Kevin Haseldene/Ryan Pickering (Mini Cooper S) were the crew with the least time penalties; they were three seconds ahead of Noel Kelly/Pete Johnson (Volvo 122S).

Regularity Six used 'London Map' navigation, where navigators had already been given a number of map references individually identified by a letter; at Lunch they were then given the order in which these references should be visited and from what direction.

Paul O Kane/Henry Carr (VW Golf GTi) and Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane (BMW 323i) put in the best performance here. Carr was the only man who could deny Pete Johnson the Golden Roamer title, and had the advantage of not having to drop any scores, Johnson having already scored the maximum 22 times during the season. Carr trailed Johnson by 18½ points prior to the Le Jog and there were 85 points available on the event.

The HERO-ERA Cup for drivers was being contested between Stephen Owens, who had lost out on the title after a retirement on the Le Jog in 2021, and Noel Kelly. Owens held a lead of 54 points, but, like Johnson, had scored the maximum 22 times, so would be dropping points as well as scoring them.

It was during the run through Devon that James Gleeson/Roger Knight (Jaguar XJC) were forced to retire with engine problems. Also in difficulty were Dirk Dohse/Annkathrin Fuss, who had been struggling with rear axle problems on Porsche 924 Turbo; this would lead to their withdrawal.

Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Henrik Verspohl/Horst Pokroppa (MG A Coupe)

After a test at Petroc College in Tiverton, there was a long run up the motorway taking the route into Wales, where there was a three timing point regularity which ended the first leg of the event. Kiff/Kiff got back to Gold after their Category rivals, Henrik Verspohl/Horst Pokroppa (MG A Coupe), had dropped two medal points in Devon.

At the end of Leg One, Haselden/Pickering were the leading crew; on time penalties, they were almost a minute ahead of McQueen/Cochrane, who were in second place.

Leg 2 was a set of challenging sections through southern and Mid Wales, finishing with a set of Time Controls through the border lanes leading to the 'overnight halt' at Telford, which the leading crews would reach at 04:00.

The opening regularity of the Leg ran through the Vale of Ewyas, finishing at Three Cocks. It was after this section that Martin Burhenne/Max Schaefer (Mini Cooper S) retired with a fuel leak.

There then followed a number of route checks and a halt at North Road Garage in Builth Wells, before crews tackled a section over the Abergwesyn Pass.

It was here that Peter Humphreys/Graham Couser (Volvo PV544) dropped off the medal table as they missed to find the time pointing on the climb up the Devil's Staircase. Haseldene/Pickering put in the best performance over Abergwesyn; they were one second ahead of Andy Lane/Iain Tullie (BMW 2002tii) and Simon Mellings/Karl Ellis (Rover 216).

Another classic road, that running down the Elan Valley followed. Lane/Tullie were best here, dropping just three seconds.

A quick reroute was required as the service station at Crossgates failed to open and an alternative fuel stop was found south of Rhayader.

After the break came the traditional road rally TC section. This started at Llanbister and finished near Church Stretton. Thick fog made the going difficult on the latter part, which ran over the Long Mynd.

There were eighteen time controls, ten passage controls and two secret checks. The first secret check, situated in a farmyard, caused difficultes for a large number of crews, with sixteen picking up a wrong approach for turning into the yard too soon. Amongst these were Lane/Tullie, Kiff/Kiff and Owens/Bloxham.

A few crews missed the check completely, these included Clare Grove/Rod Hanson (MG Maestro), who had been on Silver, but were now off the medal table.

All the TCs were timed to the minutes and the penalty for being late was 15 seconds per minute. The best performance on the section was taken by Mellings/Ellis, they dropped time at three controls, ending up with 45 seconds of penalties. Lane/Tullie were next up on one minute, but, critically, their wrong approach at the Secret Check cost them two medal points. Despite this, they were still on Gold, but were tied with Haselden/Pickering in Category D.

In the battle for the HERO-ERA Cup, Noel Kelly had taken maximum points on both of the opening legs, but Stephen Owens, despite dropping scores, was still adding to his total and seemed assured of the title as long as he made the Finish. The Golden Roamer competition was closer, but Pete Johnson had collected maximum points on both of the first two legs.

Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
Golden Roamer Champion: Pete Johnson (Volvo 122S)

Having the overnight halt at Telford, allowed the route to cut across country and take in tests and regs in the Peak District, before a lunch halt at the Peak Edge Hotel, near Chesterfield.

There were two tests prior to Lunch and Steven Hughes/Peter Fletcher (Peugeot 205 GTi) did well on both of them; they were fastest on Test 3/1, third on 3/2. They were no longer on the Medal Table, having missed a timing point on Elan Valley, but third in Class.

After the halt, two tests were taken at Steve Perez's Walton Lodge Estate. Fastest on the second one were Tom Jacobsohn/Sasha Hofton (Toyota MR2), they were contesting their first rally and, from a position where they knew very little about regularity rallying, they learnt a great deal during the event, becoming quite competent, and were rewarded with the Against All Odds Award at the Finish.

Five regularities then took the route north to Scotland and the overnight halt at Gretna Green. It was on this leg that Rob Hendy/Michael Joyce retired as a broken driveshaft stopped their Porsche 911 SC.

There were still the same seven crews on Gold at the end of the leg. Bill Cleyndert/Emily Anderson (Bentley 3-4½) were the only pre-war car in the event, so were the only contenders in their Category. Therefore, as long as they visited all the controls - easier said than done - they would secure a Gold. They were still on course for this at Gretna.

Rob Kiff/John Kiff were on Category B Gold, while Noel Kelly/Pete Johnson was four points clear in the Category C medal race. Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane had a similar advantage in Category E, while Simon Mellings/Karl Ellis were the only Category F crew on the table.

The closest battle was in category D, where Kevin Haselden/Ryan Pickering and Andy Lane/Iain Tullie were tied on Gold, while Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham were only one point behind in Silver.

By this point Owens had almost assured himself of his first HERO-ERA Cup; Noel Kelly could overtake him and finish half a point ahead, but this was a mathematically possibility only. Pete Johnson, having scored maximum points on each leg so far, was comfortably ahead of Henry Carr in the Golden Roamer race.

On time penalties, Lane/Tullie held an almost three minute lead over Haselden/Pickering, who had Mellings/Ellis and Kelly/Johnson close behind.

After a full night in bed, competitors moved out into Scotland, to deal with four tests and two regularities before the lunch halt on the southern shores of Loch Lomond.

On Test 4/2 Andy Lane/Iain Tullie collected a 10 seconds penalty for hitting a cone, this put them outside the Gold Medal standard for the test and they dropped a vital medal point, pushing them back to Silver. This also bumped Owens/Bloxham down to Bronze.

After the lunch break, there was a further regularity, which preceded a test that ran up the Rest & Be Thankful hill climb.

Up to this point, Thomas Koemer/Udo Schuass (BMW 320/4) had taken four fastest test times and looked to be on course to take the Test Pilot Award at the Finish, however on Rest & Be Thankful they went the wrong side of a set of cones and picked up a wrong test; this made them ineligible for the award, which they would have otherwise won.

A regularity that started beside Loch Awe and ran past Loch Avich to Kilmelford proved to be very icy. The vast majority of crews dropped more than a minute at the final timing point; only six crew avoided picking up the maximum minute penalty. Fastest over the section were Rod Hanson/Clare Grove in their Maestro on 19 seconds, while Thomas Bricknell/Roger Bricknell (VW Golf GTi) were second quickest on 23 seconds.

Le Jog Reliability Trial 2022
HERO-ERA Cup Champion: Stephen Owens (Porsche 911 SWB)

The final test of the event was in the dark at Oban Airport. A number of wrong tests were recording, including one for Noel Kelly/Pete Johnson. They had also lost three medal points on the icy regularity, this put them down to Silver, with Jayne Wignall/Kevin Savage being one medal point ahead on Gold.

By the two hour halt on the shores of Loch Ness, where the first competitors arrived at 21:45, there were only 14 crews still on the Medal Table. Despite their medal points losses, Andy Lane/Iain Tullie, were still well in front on time penalties; they now led Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane by four minutes, while Kevin Haselden/Ryan Pickering were a further 30 seconds behind.

Leg 5, used the roads on the eastern side of the Highlands, taking crews via Ullapool to Durness, near the north-eastern tip of Scotland. Then along the north coast to the Finish at John O'Groats. For the crews holding Gold Medals there were no dramas, with the six crews retaining their positions to the end.

Dawn broke and so did the Austin A35 of Nick van Praag/Nathan Vandekerckhove; a failed clutch leaving the crew stranded.


Multiple winners of Gold Medals

  • Drivers
  • Andy Lane - 6
  • Jayne Wignall - 6
  • John Kiff - 4
  • Mark Godfrey - 4
  • Kevin Haselden - 4
  • Andrew Davies - 3
  • Ed Chambers - 2
  • Geoff Awde - 2
  • Philip Surtess - 2
  • Simon Harris - 2
  • Simon Mellings - 2
  • Navigators
  • Iain Tullie - 6
  • Kevin Savage - 6
  • Martyn Taylor - 4
  • Dave Kirkham - 3
  • Jonathan Davies - 3
  • Rob Kiff - 3
  • Edward Kiff - 2
  • Ian Canavan - 2
  • John Bayliss - 2
  • Mark Appleton - 2
  • Matthew Chambers - 2
  • Peter Ward - 2
  • Stephan Huber - 2
  • Emily Anderson - 2

Bill Cleyndert/Emily Anderson (Bentley 3-4½) completed the event, braving the cold and rain, to secure the Category A Gold; this was the second Gold for Anderson, but a first for Cleyndert.

In Category B John Kiff/Rob Kiff (VW Beetle) secured a Gold for the first time in eighteen years. This was John's fourth Gold as a driver and fifth in total; as a navigator he'd won the only Gold awarded on the very first Le Jog in 1992. It was Rob's third Gold.

It had been seventeen years since Jayne Wignall/Kevin Savage (Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprint) had won a Gold, but their 2022 Category C win gave them six Golds each, making them the most successful crew in Le Jog history alongside Andy Lane and Iain Tullie, who had to be content with Silver.

The closely fought Category D was taken by Kevin Haselden/Ryan Pickering (Mini Cooper S), giving the driver his fourth Gold, while the navigator took his first.

In 2021 Angus McQueen/Mike Cochrane (BMW 323i) looked on course to take Gold, when they inexplicably managed to miss a PC at a garage. They made amends in 2022 by taking the Category E Gold, beating Paul O Kane/Henry Carr by just one medal point.

The final Gold went to the classic Rover 216, which took Simon Mellings/Karl Ellis to Gold in Category F; the driver's second Gold Medal.

On time penalties, Lane/Tullie put in the best performance, ending the event four minutes ahead of Haselden/Pickering. The BMW pair also secured both the Test Pilot and Clockwatchers Awards.

Five years ago, Alistair Leckie had watched a film of the Le Jog, this had sparked his interest in regularity rallying. He and navigator, Matt Outhwaite, began a rallying career that led to the pair winning the HERO Challenge Cup in both 2021 and 2022. They now felt ready to tackle the Le Jog and they did it with great success, securing a Bronze Medal, while Outhwaite won the Best Newcomer Award.