Just 51 Out Of 71 Starters Survived The Gruelling HERO LeJog Rally
Photography by Blue Passion Photo / HERO
And the winning cars in Europe’s toughest historic rallies are… Volvo 122S, MGB GT, Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS and Porsche 924S. These are the cars that achieved Gold Medals on the gruelling HERO LeJog Reliability Trial, which winds its way up through 1500 miles of the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats, the most southerly point of England to the northernmost tip of Scotland. It challenges crews with killer navigational challenges, difficult terrain and a schedule that doesn’t really allow for sleep. If you can survive LeJog, you earn serious rally kudos.
Of the 71 starters, just 51 made it through the four days, three nights, 16 driving tests and 31 regularities to the finish, with retirements due to mechanical failures, accidents and sheer exhaustion. A 1936 Derby Bentley clipped a farm trailer, damaging its axle and fuel tank, and a tough 1936 Chevrolet Coupe got stuck in a ditch, never to return to the rally. Another Derby Bentley slid into a ditch, only for rookie navigator Charlotte Ryall to jump out and fall straight into the water below. Perhaps it’s lucky that Charlotte is used to cold water, being a former Olympic rower… Luckily the car was towed out and continued the rally, and Charlotte eventually dried out. Several other cars found ditches, including a short-wheelbase Porsche 911 and a 2.7 RS Carrera 2.7 – cementing the 911’s ‘through a hedge backwards’ reputation–as well as an Austin 1800 Land Crab.
There’s no single winner on LeJog, instead there are Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winners. Of all the medal winners, the car that surprised everyone was the Jaguar XJS of Ed Abbott and Nick Cooper, which seemed to glide through every obstacle, though its sheer size and weight caused a few palpitations on the Sunday night’s icy roads. Young and relatively inexperienced navigator Amy Sanchez deserves kudos too, sat calmly alongside Roger Tushingham as he threw the Gold Medal-winning MGB GT around at high speed. The pair even managed to remain in the Gold Medal stakes despite stopping to check on the welfare of another crew who’d stopped at the side of the road.
Next year’s LeJog is already set for December 7-10. It will be the 25th HERO LeJog, so expect it to be even more spectacular–and just as gruelling.