Thirteen-year-old Natasha Lomas has set a record as the youngest ever navigator to finish an official HERO-ERA regularity rally, an achievement that also marked her endurance rallying debut.
Competing against 40 other crews, Natasha navigated for her father, John, in a 1936 Riley Sprite, the oldest car at the event, as part of the HERO-ERA’s three-day ‘A Novice Trial’. Designed as an introduction into classic and historic car rallying, 'A Novice Trial' gave Natasha the opportunity to develop and refine her skills in a mixture of classroom and road training sessions before going into her first competitive trial. On her first rally experience, Natasha said, “Being the youngest navigator made it a bit more challenging, but everyone was so nice, it made the experience a lot more fun and enjoyable than I had expected it to be.”
The rally involved four regularities and four tests where trust and teamwork are crucial to succeed. "It was a great bonding experience, even though dad didn't listen to me a few times,” says Natasha. “It was only our first event, so there’s no need to be upset about that. If anyone else is thinking of doing this I would 100% recommend it. It’s for absolutely everyone, at any age.”
With Natasha’s record now in the books, HERO ERA’s Tony Jardine hopes that her achievement will inspire others to participate in historic rallying: “We have been developing a funnel of ‘newbies’ in the sport and helping them advance, especially the young,” says the Communications Director. “It is not unusual to see family combinations such as John and Natasha on an event as the enthusiasm of the parent can sometimes rub off, what is unusual is to find a female so young who is enthused by rallying when there are so many other hobbies or sports that may be attractive."
Tony was also impressed with the calm and growing confidence that Natasha displayed as the rally progressed: “She had faith in her ability to the point that she was critical of her father, John, the driver, for taking a wrong turn when she had expressly indicated the correct road. She was calm and collected, great traits required for this intense form of navigation.”
John, who is no stranger to competitive rallying as both a driver and a navigator on rallies including the Monte Carlo Classique, the Flying Scotsman and Royal Automobile Club 1,000 mile trial, said that his daughters achievement is “phenomenal.”
“I think Natasha is looking for another driver now,” says John, “At the tea halt I went to make a complaint saying you’ve missed an arrow off, but it was pointed out that it was me who had made a pigs ear of it. I had told her to turn to the speed table page. Thus, we missed a control and picked up 2.30 of penalties. The moment was captured by Will Broadhead and our faces are priceless. Then, there was a left turn and I just didn’t follow Natasha’s instruction. The car didn’t miss a beat, the navigation was spot on, but sadly, the driver wasn’t really at the races. Of course, it’s all about getting round, doing it and enjoying it, but there are a lot of people who are older and wiser who didn’t manage to get round and who missed the control, so I couldn’t be prouder.”
Find out more about upcoming HERO events on their website.
Are you a fan of HERO-ERA rallying? What do you think of Natasha’s achievement? Let us know in the comments.