Historic rally success for Peter

A Hartburn resident’s return to rallying has saw him win a national championship in a 1981 Sunbeam Lotus.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 9:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 1:27 pm
Peter Heatherington and son Chris pictured during the championship’s Jersey rally. Picture by James Rouault.

Peter Heatherington has been rallying on and off for 50 years and previous highlights include finishing the Rally GB (Britain's round of the World Rally Championship) in 2000 and winning the Group N category on the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders in 2001.

He sold the Mitsubishi Lancer that had been modified for such racing in 2002.

Peter worked as an accountant and business consultant and a year after retiring in 2011, he bought a road car to convert into a rally vehicle for what started out as a ‘fun retirement project’.

It was built-up over a few years with the support of others – including Jim Little of Carlisle, the Sunbeam Lotus expert who worked on the original factory works team back in 1981.

The car was completed to meet historic spec in 2017 and Peter drove it at a couple of events in Otterburn last year.

He entered the 2019 FUCHS Lubricants RACRMC Historic Asphalt Rally Championship and after some good results, he recently finished the final round in Jersey to clinch the title.

Peter said: “We needed to make sure that the car was exactly as it was when it was used by the factory works team in 1981.

“It was great to be involved in rallying again last year and a change in legislation that meant local authorities could directly make decisions on holding rally events on closed public roads without an Act of Parliament being required has provided more opportunities across the country.

“I did not intend to be a full participant in the Historic Asphalt Rally Championship, just a couple of races was the plan, but after doing well in Clacton and then getting maximum points in Ulster, I knew that just finishing the Jersey event would see me win the title.

“It was a very tough event due to its tight and twisty lanes – and it was very wet on the second day, and we only had dry tyres. But we took it steady and completed the rally, which meant it was well worth the long trip.

“My co-driver is my son Chris and he won the co-drivers’ championship.”