Roar of victory on rough roads
By "Express and Star " motoring correspondent
That it always takes a good crew to win the " Express and Star " national car rally was proved after this year's event, in central and south central Wales on Saturday night, when the winner was the current championship holder Malcolm Gibbs and navigator Randall Morgan, from Hereford Car Club.
Clerk of the course Richard Harper, who was responsible for organising the event for Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club, had set a bogey of' 1,000 penalty points for the course.
He was pleased, therefore when Gibbs and Morgan in a Cortina GT were credited with 821 penalties, all incurred at the rate of one, mark per second over allowed time on special stages over Forestry Commission roads.
These two won 50 guineas, the Express and Star trophy, shared in the team award, were first in their class and won the Billingham trophy for the best performance by a Ford.
Two other crews came under Harper's anticipated 1,000 bogey. They were Roy Fidler and Alan Taylor in an ex-works Triumph 2,000 rally car with 896 penalties and Chris Knowles Fitton and Chris Nash (1,275 c.c. Cooper S) with 916 penalties.
The character of the event, now famous in the world of motor rallying In this country, was changed once again this year. For the first time the route included a considerable mileage of Forestry Commission roads which, being private, allowed for excess of the 30mph limit on average speeds.
The 17 special stages were timed to the second over those roads which are in the main rough, unfenced and often precipitous In addition on Saturday-Sunday night they were wet and slippery and occasionally swept by gale force winds.
Nobody was surprised therefore, that at least two cars rolled, without damage, however, to the occupants who had to wear helmets and belts over the special stages.
One hundred and nineteen competitors out of the maximum entry of 120 started from Llandrindod Wells on Saturday night. They set off south and west into Carmarthenshire and back, on a 200 mile route. A much lower number qualified as finishers the next morning. Most troubles were mechanical like the engine accessory failure which put Phil Derbyshire and Vaughan Jones (970 Cooper S) out of the running or a sudden loss of all important fluid from the braking system which nearly finished John Bloxham and Vaughan Bond.
These last two, who finished 12th overall in a 1,275 c.c. Cooper S, were forced to drive two special stages with the handbrake as their only brake before the defect could be remedied.
General classification. - 1, M. Gibbs and R. Morgan (Cortina GT), 821 penalties; 2, R. Fidler and A. Taylor (Triumph 2000), 896; 3, C. Knowles Fitton and C. Nash (1275 Cooper S), 916; 4, D. Pollard and T. Baines (Imp), 1,107; 5, D. Cardell and G. Jones (1275 Cooper 5),1,107; 6, J. Huggins and F. Rutter (Lotus Cortina), 1,149; 7, A. Rathmell and K. Wood (Cortina GT), 1,219; 8, W. Bengry and D. Skefrington (Cortina T), 1,276; 9, C. Offley and R. Lyall (1275 Cooper S ), 1,289. 10, R. Hill and G. Ryan- (Cortina GT), 1,291; 11, J. Bullough and D. Barrow (Lotus Cortina), 1,306; 12, J. Bloxham and V. Bond (1,275 Cooper S), 1,338; 13, R. Goodchild and R. Crellin (1,275 Cooper) , 1,371 ; 14, V. Elford and J. Davenport (Lotus Cortina), 1,384 , 15, A. K. L. Cooke and M. Wood (1,275 Cooper S), 1,398. Novices - 1, B. Bayliss and D. Hayward (Cortina GT), 1,633; 2, P. Durkin and A. Pearson (Cortina GT), 2,085; 3, D. Evans and A. Jones (Cortina GT), 2,276; 4, R. Badham and J. Allcock (Cortina GT), 2,447, 5, E. Wright and K. Redshaw (Anglia), 2,518.
Best mixed crew. - Ron and Evelyn Jamison (1,275 Cooper S).
Best Wolverhampton and S.S.C.C. members. - R. Shorthouse and Brian Foxall (Cortina).
Best team. - Gibbs-Morgan and Bullough-Barrow.
Class winners. - Up to 900 c.c., Badham and Allcock; 901 to 1,300 c.c., C. K. Fitton and C. Nash; 1,301 to 1,600 c.c., Huggins and Rutter, 1,601 c.c. and over, Fiddler and Taylor; category B, up to 1,600 c.c., Gibbs and Morgan.
Marque awards. - Ford (Billingham trophy), Gibbs and Morgan; Standard-Triumph (Norman Dawkins cup), Fidler and Taylor; Nuffield (Bradburn and Wedge cup), Fitton and Nash; Rootes (F.C, Bishop cup), Pollard and Barnes; Austin (Charles Clark trophy); Cardell and Jones; European (J. R. Gibbon trophy), J. Mead and J. King (Renault Gordini R8).