March 5th / 6th 1960

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Reproduced from the Motoring News of 10th March 1960 -

Fast "Express"

Tom Gold, Stuart Turner win tough Wolverhampton & S. Staffs rally

"ONE OF of the toughest Nationals for some time" was the general opinion of competitors in the "Express and Star" rally organised by the Wolverhampton and South Staffs. C.C. The outright winners were Tom Gold and Stuart Turner in an Austin-Healey Sprite, having lost only 4 minutes over the whole route. In second place came Mrs. Pauline Mayman and Valerie Domleo in their Morgan +4, only 9 minutes down. This was a really remarkable performance from these two ladies.
Motoring News chose to cover the rally by competing and as competitor No. 112, Mike Twite and Bill Creed left the Oxford start in a Morris Minor Traveller, but the less said about our performance the better. Nevertheless it enabled us to see what a difficult rally the organisers had laid on.
From the five starting points at Oxford, Nottingham, Hereford, Liverpool and Wolverhampton the route led to the meeting point at Knighton, near Presteigne. Most competitors were well ahead of time at Knighton and combined with a delay in sending drivers off, many people found that they had a 2½-hour wait before they were due to leave. But this was the only black mark which could be levelled against the organisers.

One marked map

The whole rally was to be done on one marked map, with 31 Time Controls to be visited in the Montgomery, Llandrindod Wells, Newton and Llanidloes area on Sheet 128, a popular and difficult rally area. A large number of people were in trouble right from the start judging by the number of cars milling about in all directions and several people decided to give the first control a miss. From then on things became a bit easier for a while, but as the route moved westwards towards Llanidloes the going became tougher and tougher. To anyone who does not know these Welsh mountains intimately a 30 m.p.h. average is very difficult as so many likely looking roads peter out into nothing. The steep hills require a powerful engine while the winding lanes call for excellent roadholding and if the navigator is not right first time you have almost certainly had it! The Motoring News Minor was outclassed from the start as it was reduced to first gear for many of the climbs so that averages of 60 m.p.h. would have been necessary down the other sides of the mountain, something which the driver's ability and the brakes could not cope with !

Battered Sprite

BATTERED SPRITE: The glass-fibre bonnet of this Sprite took on a decidedly ragged look when the car hit a railway bridge in the wilds of Wales during the Express and Star National Rally. After suitable patching and the judicious use of string it managed to reach the finish.

At Pontdolgoch Station between controls 14 and 15 a fast turn with a decreasing radius misled many drivers and several had contacted the parapet of the railway bridge across the road with detrimental effect on the bodywork. A Sprite with a glass-fibre bonnet looked decidedly shabby. All round the route there were signs of interesting moments with skid marks leading up to holes in hedges and a number of banks show signs of contact. The roads were still coated a thick layer of dust which was laid by local authorities during the recent icy period caught out several drivers who cornered too ambitiously,patchy mist on high ground was sufficient to slow many people.

Tie-decider

A driving test to decided ties was held at Elan Valley and consisted of an acceleration test along the edge of the reservoir and was won by Brian Harper in his Morgan +4. With daylight approaching roads became easier and the cars wound their way back to Knighton and eventually on to Bridgnorth for the finish where complete tabulated results announced within two hours a remarkable effort.
The effort of Tom Gold and Stuart Turner was especially commendable and that of Mrs. Mayman and Valerie Domleo even more so. Those critics rallying who dismiss it as childs play would not have thought so last Saturday. To average 30 m.p.h. over this terrain requires a fast car with excellent holding, a fearless driver and a navigator who knows the backwards. Although quite managed it, the Gold/Turner car came very close. When the Motoring News crew began to compute the number of marks they had lost they got to 600 before deciding to give up. There must be something to this rallying- See you on the Hopper!

M.L.T.