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HERO Challenge Two


15th June 2024

HERO Challenge Two 2024
Winners: Dick Baines/Harry Baines (Mini Cooper S)
Photograph: © Paul Freeman Photography

Organiser: HERO-ERA

Date: 15th June 2024

Clerk of the Course: Andy Darlington

Route: 130 Miles - 8 tests, 6 regularities

Base: Bicester Heritage

Starters: 74

The second of HERO-ERA's popular one day Challenge events was based at Bicester, with the start at Bicester Heritage. Seventy-four crews took the start in wet conditions.

Competition opened with three tests at the adjoining aerodrome. Scoring on the tests, as usual, was done using the Class Improvement System, where the fastest car in a class receives zero penalties, and the second, two seconds, and so on.

None of the crews manage a clean sweep of fastest times in their class over the three tests, although four left the venue with two seconds of penalties; these were: Dave Smith/Phil Cottam; Simon Ayris/Matt Outhwaite; Christopher Day/Claire Day and Challenge One winners, Paul Bloxidge/James Bloxidge.

The first casualty of the day was the Cooper S of Paul Mills/Mike Cowburn, which broke a clutch master cylinder on the third test.

The first regularity was just over 15 miles long; it started at on the northern outskirts of Bicester and went through Stoke Lyne, Hethe, Evenley and Mixbury. There was a tricky-to-find control at Hardwick Manor.

James Holt/Alistair Leckie picked up the least number of penalties over the section, dropping six seconds, two seconds better than Ayris/Outhwaite. This meant that these two crews shared the lead after the reg. Day/Day fell down the order after they, along with a number of other crews, struggling to find the entrance to Hardwick Manor.

Crews then returned to Bicester for three more tests at the airfield. Holt/Leckie were fastest in their class on all three and emerged with a clear lead, Ayris/Outhwaite having been beaten on one test by class rivals Chris Lacey/Geoff Lloyd.

Regularity 2 started at Stratton Audley and went via Poundon and Marsh Gibbon, before finishing on the A4. Ken Binstead/Sarah Binstead dropped just one second over the three timing points; this put them into the top ten for the first time in the day, they were now in sixth place.

Holt/Leckie extended their lead to six seconds over Ayris/Outhwaite. Dick Baines/Harry Baines were second best on Reg 2 and moved into third position, displacing Peter Moore/Kit Moore, who had held that place since the first reg.

The Renault 8 Gordini of Malcolm Dunderdale/Anita Wickins retired at this point when the rear wheels on the car sheared.

Passing through Piddington took the competitors to the third regularity, a speed table test that was ten miles long and contained three timing points. It looped around Bernwood Forest and finished at Worminghall. Eight crews shared the best performance of two seconds dropped over the section, while the top three crews were all on three seconds.

A late lunch halt was taken at the Hired Hand Inn at Cothill. At this point Holt/Leckie held a lead of nine seconds over Ayris/Outhwaite, while Baines/Baines were only a second further back in third.

Two regularities and two tests remained to be contested. Regularity 5 ran from Eynsham and ran through Stonesfield and Middle Barton. There were five timing points and the battle for lead closed up as Holt/Leckie picked up a total of 13 seconds at the final two timing points. Their lead was now to a second, while Ayris/Outhwaite were two seconds in front of Baines/Baines.

Once again, Binstead/Binstead put in the best performance and this moved them up to fourth place overall.

The remainder of the competitive sections was within the former Upper Heyford Airbase; there was a regularity and two tests on the airfield. The regularity had a complex route; it was five and a half miles long and defined by 55 tulip diagrams.

Car 1, Peter Moore/Kit Moore, put up the best time over the section, dropping nine seconds, while David Roberts/Melanie Roberts were on eleven. Critically for the overall positions, Baines/Baines were third best, 13 seconds ahead of their rivals Ayris/Outhwaite, although the Joker cut this by eight seconds. This was enough to put the father and son pairing into a lead of three seconds.

The erstwhile leaders, Holt/Leckie, had a nightmare and were over two minutes late at the third timing point; the Joker reduced this to 15 seconds, but in such a tightly fought contest this dropped them to fifth place.

Binstead/Binstead now moved into third place, ten seconds off second place, but 18 seconds ahead of Patrick Walker/Daisy Walker, who had moved up from tenth place over Reg 6.

Two tests at Heyford completed the day's competition. Baines/Baines were second fastest in their class on both, adding four seconds to their total. Ayris/Outhwaite were the fastest MG on the final test, but only third quickest on Test 7; they, therefore, added four seconds to their total as well.

Thus, the Cooper S crew secured victory to add the top honour to their wins on the Malts and London Lisboa.

Ayris/Outhwaite had to content with the runner up spot, the same position that they had occupied on the podium of the Challenge One in March. The results put Ayris at the top of the Drivers' Challenge Table, ten points ahead of Patrick Walker. Outhwaite was also at the head of the Navigators' Table, but was sharing first place with the winner of Challenge One, James Bloxidge, who was 15th on Challenge Two.

The Challenge Two podium was completed by Binstead/Binstead, who had been debuting their new Triumph TR6 on the event.

Harry Baines took the Clockwatchers Award for the least penalties incurred on the six regularities, while Chris Day, who finished in fifth place, won the Test Pilot honours.

HERO Challenge Two 2024