March 13th / 14th 1965

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From the Motoring News of 18th March 1965


'ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-THREE competitors assembled at Colwyn Bay in North Wales on Saturday night, March 13, ready to see what Richard Harper, of the Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club had in store for them in the form of the Express and Star National Rally. They soon discovered that this year's Star was well up to standard and this tough challenging event would remain on the ever-decreasing list of well-organised popular national British rallies.
The Express and Star at­tracted entries from all parts of England and Wales, among them some of the finest International and National rally crews. From the im­pressive list of names, David Friswell and Richard Binns brought their Cooper S through to take the Premier Trophy. David Friswell can now add his name to such distinguished names as Bill Bengry, Tom Gold, Brian Harper, Pat Moss, Tony Fisher and Reg McBride, all previous winners of the E. & S. Apart from the Shunpiker on which he travelled half a mile, Friswell has not driven in a rally for four months, while Richard Binns last navi­gated exactly 12 months ago when he came second in the E.& S.
They did not achieve their win without a certain amount of trouble, however. Several of theirs and other's times over stages were disputed and, at one time it appeared that there would be all the old troubles that so often accom­pany result announcements.
Several of the times attributed to cars were questioned and for nearly three hours some competitors com­pared times and penalties. At approximately 11 o'clock the official results were announced which showed that this rally had been without doubt one for the Mini's. The going on the E. & S. was tough-no one can dispute that. When roads are tight and slippery and the route has received a liberal application of mountain mist the Coopers must he at their best. Such were the conditions on Saturday night and enabled David Friswell / R. Binns, Geoff Halliwell/Mike Wood, Tony Fall/David Fawcett and Gerald Bloom/Alan Taylor to motor their Cooper S's very rapidly to pull out a gradual lead on the long string of cars that followed. Only one non-Mini could penetrate this gaggle, the consistently rapid Cortina GT of Malcolm Gibhs/Randal Morgan who finished in third place. Another notable performance was that of Tony Cox/Keith Binn's Rover 2000. In a car that must be at a great disadvantage on tight Welsh lanes this crew brought the Rover into sixth place-ahead of yet another Cooper S.
There are always notable retirements on the E. & S. Last year an obnoxious tree stump eliminated half a dozen strong contestants at the start of the rally. This year there was no particular reason, but such people as Roger Clark (Rover 2000), Roy Fidler (Triumph 2000) and Vic Elford (Cortina GT), went out in the first two hours of the rally.
The rally started as men­tioned in Colwyn Bay. Having collected route details the cars moved on to the Promenade for the 10 p.m. start beneath the pier.
The road book contained details of approximately two dozen route checks and "via" references as well as 15 selec­tive sections and four main controls. "Pole” position, as it were, went to Roger Clark/ Jim Porter (Rover). They led the field on to a 20-minute "A" road run down to 796½714 near Etlwysbach. Five route checks followed very closely and while these gave time to navigators could see how they were progressing, no time penalty was applied. Using all the tight lanes on the eastern side of the Vale of Conway, the cars proceeded along a muddy white down to the A496 Bryn Rhudd, (791647).
The easy, run from this point to the start of selective one, Tal-y-Llyn - proved diffcult as the road was under going repairs. Bill Bengry/ Barry' Hughes, Frank Grange/ Tony Mahon and Doug Ray/ Stuart Gray were among the many that lost as much as five minutes here.
The Tal-y-Llyn stage saw plenty of activity for the Roger Clark Rover 2000 which was put out of the rally when the differential packed up. Phil Simister and Don Barrow lost a couple of minutes when their Cortina hit a bank while others lost minutes when they found gates on the first yellow road closed. The organisers eventually scrubbed this stage. Bettws-y-coed seemed to he enveloped in a low cloud. Nothing but dense steam could he seen when the early numbers arrived there. The cause of this was that the head gasket of the King Cod/Graham Robson Triumph 2000 had broken.
Moving round by Capel Garmon the rally came back west to selective two at Cenmachnm. The stage started at 806530 and finished before the forestry road at Pwll-y­gath. Vic Elford and David Stone (Cortina GT) damaged the front susension of their car when it came over a hump and hit a rock. Down on 116 the 7-minute, Carrog stage was, easily on despite the mountain mist. Keeping east of Ffestinog, the Rhos-wen stage was remarkably narrow end "twisty.' Fall was fastest here.
Selective five, Eisingrug, proved to be a big stopper. From Eisingrug down to 600310 was no trouble, though the mist was thickening, but it was a different story on the, white. across 616308. From this point there are numerous bad hairpins. These are not marked on the map, and the foggy conditions made them very nasty. Bill Bengry and Barry Hughes were in trouble when they lost all their lights here. Several Cortinas and John La Trobe/Julian Chitty's, Humber Sceptre found this stage very difficult.
Selective six proved to be even more difficult for the bigger cars, and the two stages must have helped the Minis considerably. Starting from 602273 the stage went across, to 625259, then back over the white road to the crossroads at 603249. The southern half, of 5924 was out of bounds, so that cars had to come down the white road to the finish at 5874246. The notable junction through the gateposts brought its usual crop as only the Minis could really manage this one. Both Tony Reid-Gibbs and Randal Gibbs managed to get their Anglias round while Malcolm Gibbs shuffled round in the Cortina "taking dozens of bites." Don Barrow had to go well past the junction to turn, while Doug Ray turned before the junction and backed up to the gateway-only to find Brian Harper/Ron Crellin and Bill Bengry/Barry Hughes wedged there. Northumbrian Geoff Cook and Denis Bowes found the gateway junction impossible and sustained a puncture here.
Tony Fall/David Fawcett thought their rally was over when they damaged their exhaust system. They managed to borrow some wire, and wired it back on at the petrol halt at Bontdda, near Eolgel­lare. After petrol, the cars shuffled off up to Selective 7 in Cold-y-Brenin forest. This 17-minute stage from 726315 down through the forest was again mist-covered. By-passing Llansachfretch, the rally moved via some route checks in the Ponthilanrhaiabr region and on up the A494 to Sheet 117 and the famous Blfych-y-Groes selective. Cars came south from Talardd and the stage finished just past the hairpin at the bottom of the hill. In the mist, David Friswell spun the S at one of the tight bends, but still made a good time. Sydney Allard, 5.13, was best here, followed by Ray's 5.31.
Passing through Dinas Mawddy, the rally used the yellow road on the right bank of the River Dovey through Aberangell and on to the Cefn-coch selective which started at Abercegir and went across to the station; the first bridge on this stage is rather nasty and one or two cars negotiated it with great verve. Nipping on to 117 and 129, the rally returned over Rhin-goch. The bad hairpin at Bwlch Glym-nynydd claimed no victims, though several cars were suffering from an acute lack of brakes. Gerald Bloom and Alan Taylor were running with practically no brakes at all, and had to fit new pads at the petrol halt in Machynlleth. It was now only 15 miles to the finish, with a run down the main road to the Blettwo sclective-a 6-minuter to Taly-bont. Then the rally went on through Salem and the usual selective through the woods and on to the fabulous Elan selective-all 19 minutes of it. Starting just after Cwmy-stwyth, the route went off to Sheet 129, round the hairpin and down by the reservoir. The final section, round Corngafallt, to Llamwrythwl was a tight one, and Alan Allard put his Cortina off here.