The Yorkshire-based driver and his Swedish-based co-driver won the Open Category in 2008 and 2010 and will now strive to stop Martyn Hawkswell and Nick Welch extending their recent hat-trick of Open wins.
Hemingway says that the Sunderland base and rally route in the Kielder complex will make it a very tough rally. “It’s a massive challenge every year. There are a lot of stage miles and it’s a tough event.”
Ironically, Kielder has never been kind to Hemingway. “To be honest, Kielder is my nemesis,” he said. “In 2004 I had a lot of bad luck in there. I was doing very well until we went into Kielder and I thought I could just keep the same pace up. But I learned about Kielder the hard way and ended up in a big ditch.”
He says that he really does not have any ‘local’ knowledge of the stages in the largest man-made forest in Europe. “I hardly remember any of it,” he said. “Just occasionally you’ll recognise a little bit. I know Yorkshire really well but I have to adopt a different mode of driving for Kielder.
“In 2004, we spent all night repairing the car and managed to get going again and finish the event. So I’ve finished every one and we’ve won the Open Rally twice. I think I’m the only one who has finished all of them.”
For Hemingway, it is the rally of the season. “I plan my season around the Roger Albert Clark,” he said. “Simon comes over from Sweden every year to co-drive. He missed the first two, but he’s done all the rest with me. He’s brilliant on the maps and we’re looking forward to it immensely.”