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Hughes Historic 2024 Preview

By Iain Tullie

With entries potentially closing this weekend, there are currently 47 HRCR championship contenders listed among the 42 crews entered. It could be the last time Manston airfield is available for the event and Blackpalfrey put on some great tests and an off road regularity there last year, almost worth the trip down to Kent for this alone. There will be a further 90 miles of regularity out along the scenic lanes of East Kent, all on map 179.

The change of date and avoiding a Bank Holiday weekend may not have gained the event many entries, but it should mean a little less traffic and other road users out on the lanes. The event does also use the joker system, so crews can drop their worst public road regularity penalty, should anyone be unfortunate to get delayed.

Another advantage of the date move is that the journey to and from the event should be easier, the start / finish is near Canterbury within easy access to the motorway network. So, if you were undecided about having a go, it’s not too late to sign up, visit https://hughesrally.blackpalfrey.co.uk/.

Having had the dubious honour of running car 1 on the Tour of Cheshire, last year’s Hughes winners won’t be down in Kent, with driver away on holiday and navigator competing on the Flying Scotsman the same weekend. However, there is no shortage of previous Hughes Rally winners on the event, my guess is that either 2019 winners Ian Crammond & Matthew Vokes (Mercedes) or current in-form navigator and 2017 winner, Ryan Pickering, will be leading the field away. Ryan’s chauffeur this time in his Mk1 Escort is a twice Hughes winner himself in the navigator’s seat, Matt Fowle, who’s a successful driver too of course, so won’t be phased by the pressure of maintaining Ryan’s recent winning run!

2019 winners Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes (Mercedes 280SL) back together for the Hughes. Hopefully no mechanical mishaps this time.  Photo by M&H Photography.

Hot on their heels in the Masters will be John King & Henry Carr (is it the same red MR that won the event in 2017?), the MGBs of the Binsteads and Les Andrew & Peter Blackett (winning nav in 2000), plus the James’s, Griffiths and Howell, who took the Mini to victory in 2009.

2009 winners James’s Griffiths and Howell (Mini 1275GT) will be looking to improve dramatically on their Tour of Cheshire performance. Photo by M&H Photography

In the Experts, while leading drivers Peter Higton and David Alcock are not entered, all the top four navigators are, so there should be a good tussle between Peter Engel and Mark Dunkerly (Eunos), David Mann and Ian Doble (MGC), Andrew Parr & Bob Duck (Cooper S), Paul & Sandra Heaney (Fulvia) and Andrew Buzzard & Rob Lyne (Escort). Karl Ellis is also entered, but in the Clubmans event so may not be eligible for points unless this changes when the seeded entry list is published.

Peter Engel and Mark Dunkerly (Eunos) after finding the correct ford on the 2023 Hughes.  Photo by M&H Photography.

There should also be a good scrap for honours among the Novices too, with Tour of Cheshire top-scorers Jeff Wincott & Anne Twedell not entered, Phil Cheek & Graeme Presswell (Hartwell Avenger), Lee Davies & Richard White (Mini), another pair of MGBs, Martyn Craske & Dan Middle and David Morris & Jac Wales, plus the Cooper S of Owen & Gill Tyson will be seeing who can master Clerk of Course Dave Hughes’ plotting and timing.

Wishing all our HRCR contenders and the organisers an enjoyable and successful event.

Jac Wales and Dave Morris (MGB GT) tackling the off road regularity on Manston in 2021. Photo by M&H Photography.

Photos by Kind Permission of M&H Photography