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Round 4 The Hughes Classic

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A glorious early summers day greeted Thomas and Roger Bricknell in a VW Golf GTI as they departed MTC1 as first car away to start the Hughes Classic Rally 2019. 36 HRCR cars had entered for the 4th round of the championship in Kent alongside 17 club cars that included Simon Mellings and Henry Carr in a Toyota MR2!
A Regularity of 11 miles given out an hour before departure started the day as temperatures started to rise both inside and outside the cars. It was then off to Mereworth Woods for our first visit to this perennial favourite. Despite the lack of rain the surface was still soft in places but this didn’t stop the crews pulling out all the stops on the 8.38 miles of forest tracks that was the off road Jogularity course. Strategically placed Passage checks meant that there was always time to make up and, for those unfamiliar to the event, this provided an additional challenge in trying to work the logic of the woods.

Crammond and Vokes, Winners once again. Photo by kind permission of mandhphotography.co.uk

Reg C was a 29 mile epic using Herring Bones, spot heights, map symbols, unders/overs and that combined with 15 speed targets kept the Navs working to the max. It was also the first of many LWR and NAM’s that were to become a feature of the rally as codeboards were strategically placed among them to catch out those who took the incorrect route.
Time then to take a breather for a short coffee stop and results at this point showed last years Championship winners Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes in the lead with just 15 penalty points. Last years winners Thomas and Roger Bricknell were in second place then came Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan in another VW Golf GTI in third.
After refreshments it was back out onto the Roads for Reg D which was on a coloured ribbon route with spot heights added. Then onto Hole Park, another old favourite of the rally, for our first visit to the grass special tests. Although straightforward the sting in the tail was quite a narrow course combined with a lack of grip. However this caused few problems for the leaders posting sub one minute times. The second test was a fast blast through the cones down a concrete track.
Reg E followed with 4 NAMLWR then back to Hole Park for the final special test before lunch. This was an extended grass circuit around a large field which gave lovely views of the estate, if you had the time to take any notice.
Lunch in at the Hole Park Café resounded to the sound of “missed a codeboard”. In fact only 14 cars out of the whole rally entry had made it to lunch without missing one. No change at the top of the leaderboard at this time but the Bricknells were one of the many who had succumbed and slid down the board allowing Isherwood and Canavan into second with first Experts Paul Hernaman with Ray “Crow” Crowther in a Porsche 911 in third.
After lunch it was back out onto the Hole Park Tests before 13 miles of Reg F but no LWR this time. Then it was onto Brockton Farm for a busy and rather tight Special Test . The Spot height Reg followed before a rapid afternoon tea stop that gave the Nav’s a chance to quickly plot the final route around a set of letters given out in the road book. After successfully completing that Reg it was back to Mereworth for the last 5 Special Tests before the hot and sweaty crews made their way back to MTC 3 at The Moat Public House.

In the end just 10 crews managed to get round the whole course without missing a codeboard but even though the Bricknells managed to miss two they still finished in 9th overall a very creditable achievement. The congratulations must however go to Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes who led from the start and finished with a table topping 946 points. In second place was Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan and Third was James Griffiths and James Howell in a 1275GT Mini. Leaders on the Experts Championship Harvey Steele and Martin Pitt were 7th overall in the Volvo 144 and first Novice was Phil Wood and Kelvin Phipps in the Volvo p1800. Phil and Kelvin also managed an excellent third place on the grass test results behind a VW GTI and Porsche 911.
An excellent rally that tested the crews to the max. With some of the big guns missing it has certainly tightened things up at the top of the championship table. However with the leaders currently not signed up for the East Anglian Classic, it could give Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan the chance to take the lead in the Drivers/Navigators Championship. Game on!

Ken Binstead

All Photos by kind permission of mandhphotography.co.uk

The top ten are below but a full set of results can be found at the Blackplafrey MC website.

1 M12 Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes Mercedes 280SL
2 M34 Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan VW Golf GTI
3 M12 James Griffiths and James Howell Austin 1275GT
4 E12 Paul Hernaman and Ray “Crow2 Crowther Porsche 911
5 M12 Gavin and Carrie Rogers Reliant Scimitar
6 M34 Seren and Elise Whyte Datsun Stanza
7 E12 Harvey Steel and Martin Pitt Volvo 144
8 M12 Andy Dawson and Martin Phaff Lancia Fulvia
9 M34 Roger and Thomas Bricknell VW Golf GTI
10 E12 Ken and Sarah Binstead MGB Roadster