Words: Nathan Chadwick | Photos: Blue Passion/Will Broadhead
After 1300 miles, 33 regularities and 17 tests, 23 international crews completed one of the hardest trials for drivers, navigators and cars in Europe – the LeJog rally, organised by HERO-ERA.
The rally left the most southern tip of mainland United Kingdom, Land’s End, on December 3 before reaching its most northern tip, John O’Groats, on December 6. This year saw a change to the route, with the 23 crews from 14 different countries taking in the western coast of Scotland before heading along the coastline roads to their ultimate destination. Along the way there was a night test at Oban Airport. For the final two legs, the crews ran for 26 hours, with just a two-hour break.
Twelve medals were awarded – six golds, four silvers and two bronzes – while the event saw two championships wrapped up. Stephen Owens won the HERO Cup drivers after several years of finishing runner-up, while Pete Johnson won the Golden Roamer Award for the highest-placed navigator in 2022.
“Eventually it’s come good. I owe a lot to HERO-ERA for looking after me down the highways and byways of the UK, it’s been really, really competitive. Nick Bloxham my navigator has been brilliant to help get me through,” said Owens. “It has been a tough 2022, and to cap it all, LeJog has been very tiring – it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. There are some great competitors, and we have enjoyed some really good relationships this season.”
While the prizes are the goal for more experienced crews, for some the achievement is seeing the event’s finish. German crew Thomas Boemmer and Nils Marose had competed in just one HERO Challenge rally before taking on LeJog. “It was wonderful and very special. However, if I do come back I have to get the permission of my wife,” said Boemmer. “I have to say thank you to LeJog and to Nils. We have done the job – we just wanted just to finish.”
For HERO-ERA competition director Guy Woodcock, the event was a real success. “The numbers of Swiss, Germans, Dutch and Belgians was impressive, but it is important for us to always attract different nationalities. I think we almost got more foreign than British crews in the end,” he said. “There’s been a lot of newcomers – some first-timers who have never, ever done a rally before, and they start with a LeJog, one of the hardest of all. But they’ve been here smiling, and they’ve loved it and learned as they’ve gone on.”
For more details on HERO-ERA events, click here.