From Motoring News of 31st March 1966
MN Rally Championship - Round Four
EXPRESS & STAR
IT is becoming an increasingly common, almost fashionable, practice among rallying scribes to "knock the event," almost as if, no matter how basically successful a rally, justice would not be done if the minor irritations were not brought clearly to the surface. This is frequently done with a great deal of unnecessary emphasis which often clouds the good points and results, though perhaps not intended, in a somewhat distorted account.
With no more ado, let it be said that, despite such things as one or two unsynchronised watches and the absence of the odd arrow on the special stages, the National Express and Star Rally of the Wolverhampton & D.M.C. deserves acclaim as a truly magnificent event, standing as proof that the Motor Vehicles (Competitions and Trials) Regulations need not by any means remove the element of fierce competition from British Rallying.
The excellence of the event was reflected in the showing put up by the competitors, and Malcolm Gibbs/Randal Morgan (Willment-Cortina) were worthy winners from a field which consisted of some of the best crews in the land, several of whom with manufacturer's team experience. Roy Fidler and Alan Taylor (Triumph 2000) were in a very close second place and Chris Knowles-Fitton / Chris Nash third. Vic Elford/John Davenport (Lotus-Cortina) had been leading during the earlier stages, but wrong-slotted on stage nine, which dropped them to 14th in the final classification.
The format of the event was a comparatively simple one. There were 17 special stages, with a penalty of one point per second over the target time up to a maximum of 500. There were virtually no time penalties on the road, except for 30 points per minute late in departing from Main Controls, of which there were two, apart from Start and Finish. This was, perhaps, a trifle superfluous, since a delay on a stage could well result in two lots of penalties for the same error, as happened to Elford. There were also passage points with , penalties only for non-arrival. The stages were mainly on Forestry Commission or Military property, and presented a well balanced variety of surfaces to suit all tastes. Some of the forest roads tended to be rough in parts, but on a special stage event this was to be expected. Rain on the Saturday afternoon had not rent dered the stages mudbound, as they often are, but they were nevertheless slippery and there were many at breakfast telling tales of recovery from ditches. Timing on the stages was ingeniously simple. The finish watch was "set back by an amount equal to the target time, so that anyone whose finish time was equal to, or less than, his start time, remained unpenalised. The others had their start times substracted from their finish times, giving, not time for the stage, but time in excess of target. Easy, too, for the results team.
Scrutineering began at Llanrindod Wells at 6 p.m. and the first of the 120 cars left at 10.01 p.m. After a run down to 141, the first of the stages began at 10.30 p.m. with an eight-minuter over Alltmawr, but perhaps a complete list of special stages would be a far better guide to the route than voluble descriptions. Here they are with approach directions included:
|Start: 075443. SE|
|Finish: 049487½. NE|
|Target: 8 min.|
|Start: 015½475. NNE|
|Finish: 020447. W|
|SS3. DROVERS ARMS|
|Start: 021436. ESE|
|Finish: 987452. uE|
|SS4. EPPYNT 1|
|Start: 885414. ENE|
|Finish: 871372. SE|
|SS5. LLWYDLO 1|
|Start: 869374. SE|
|Finish: 851372. NE|
|Start: 844362. NE|
|Finish: 825372. NE|
|Start: 765289½. NE|
|Finish: 748274½. ENE|
|Start: 545½308. SE|
|Finish 572310. SE|
|Target : 7min.|
|Start: 594354. SE|
|Finish: 574337. NE|
|Start: 525½309. NW|
|Finish: 516½280½. SE|
|Start: 472279. SSE|
|Finish: 483285. NE|
|Start: 503½303. S|
|Finish: 521318½ NW|
|Start: 551309. NW|
|Finish: 551½393. SSE|
|Start: 780½421. NE|
|Finish: 810416. NW|
|SS16. LLWYDLO 2|
|Start: 54422. SW|
|Finish: 882431. W|
|SS17 EPPYNT 2|
|Start: 885414. SW|
|Finish: 961390. NW|
The first stage was just about on, but several people came to grief, among them West/ Sylvester, whose Cooper S broke its drive shaft 300 yards from the end, and Norman Harvey/John Thomas (Cooper S) who went off up a bank. Tony Fall / David Fawcett broke a steering arm, on their Cooper S and also retired. The second stage was considerably more difficult, and by this time the wind and the rain was taking toll of the arrows, rendering it necessary, on occasions, to slow down to appreciate the direction intended, Cec Offley/Rob Lyall (Cooper S) lost time when they wrong slotted in the middle of the stage. Stage three was on Military property and was along a road which resembled, in parts, an airfield runway. It was easily on, but the lack of hedges made for no early appreciation of what lay beyond the slight hill crests. Thus there were many who were slowing down, only to find that there was no real need. So fast was this stage, on concrete, that only the brave were at ten tenths all the time.
Stage four was a classic meander over the Eppynt Ranges. Those with pace notes were at, a distinct advantage, although there was no way of telling, from the route card, which way the arrows would be pointing at junction and speed was necessary in transferring from one set of pace notes to another.
Stage six was the first forest stage proper, and represented for many their baptism of pine needles. Rod Goodchild, for instance, was having his first trip in the forests, partnered by Ron Crellin in a Cooper S. The route was mudcovered and typically convex in cross-section, with fresh air on one side and a ditch on the other. The technique is, to drive nearer the ditch the faster you go, using the camber provided by the sloping road surface. Some of the hairpins were stone strewn, and M. Thomas / Barry Hughes broke a drive shaft on the Cooper S. Malcolm Gibbs/ Randal Morgan deliberately went off to avoid a pile of logs-a real menace throughout the forest stages- and Knowles-Fitton / Nash nearly collected them as they were reversing out. Vic Elford/ John Davenport had some trouble with the silencer of the Lotus-Cortina: but managed to right things and carried on. The Jamiesons (Mr. and Mrs. Ron) hit a pile of logs which did nasty things to the, steering of their Cooper S, Jeff Chambers/J. Payne retired their Cooper S when the exhaust system was taken away by a log.
After the seventh stage came the first fuel halt at Manordeilo Garage, where it became obvious that despite the hard going everyone was thoroughly enioying the thrash. Richard Martin-Hurst/Stuart Gray had retired after rolling their Cooper in no uncertain maner. Vic Elford was undoubtedly in the lead but Gibbs Fidler, Knowles-Fitton Pollard, Cardell and Huggins were, close behind.
After petrol and various other replenishments the fray continued with a dash over the rough whites of Mynydd Figyn. Roy Johnson/Derek Tucker suffered distributor troubles, and several people, expired with, various suspension and steering, maladies.
Number nine was a fantastic dash through the forest north of Abergorlech, and it was here that Elford/Davenport followed a wind blown arrow, dropped them way down the list. Ridout and Preece a rolled their Cooper down a steep bank and, there were many people collecting penalties after spinning off into the brush or leaping on to grass banks. High winds were scattering branches over the roads, and there was always the risk that the might become entangled beneath the cars.
Number 12 was an 11 minuter through the forest west of Brechfa, and this was the greasiest of the lot. Bill Mellis/Geraint Phillips lost 25 minutes heaving the Cortina GT out of a muddy ditch and were almost joined by the Anglia GT of Jerry Dodd/Jeff Clement. It would be safe to say that at any one time there were recovery operations going on simultaneously at least at half a dozen places throughout the duration of the stage. Among the retirements were J. Mead/J. King (R8 Gordini) who were O.T.A. and L. Brooke with a sick Cooper motor. After a run over Mynydd Pencarreg, and the second fuel stop at 637432 on the red road south-east of Lampeter, the 15th stage was over the classic white, south of Rhandirmwyn, with the route keeping well away from the Abergewesyn Mountain Road (where there was an inexplicably placed out of bounds area). On this stage, a sharp right over a hump caused no end of moments, and the wheel marks, wall of death style, along the bank had to be seen to be believed. Bob Lamb/Tony Mason became stuck after the bank had pushed them into a fence, and were extricated with the help of Chris Lovell and Julian Chitty, who couldn't have got by anyway. The most spectacular acrobatics at this point were performed by the Cooper S of B. Eaves/J. Vipond, who struck the bank on their left, jumped over the road and neatly rolled into a field, leaving an ominous hole in the fence to cause gasps from all, those who came behind. The right slot at 805428 was the downfall of many who overshot along the surfaced, white which goes straight on to Cynnant. This happened to Lamb/Mason, who found that they were not alone trying to turn round in the Cynnant Valley. But this stage was clearly marked on the map, so there was no real need for an arrow.
The rally ended with another stage through Crychan Forest, followed by another through the maze of Mynydd Eppynt, this time for 16 minutes.
Despite the unanimous praise for the organisation and layout of the Star, there were probably very few who were not delighted to see it come to an end, so exhausted was everyone with the effort. Although there was virtually, no timing on the road sections, they were comparatively short, and the pressure was relentlessly on for most of the night. If this is one of the results of the Chesham Report, I feel sure that most people will welcome its coming. The style was not dissimilar to that ............indeed an appropriate one. Results were quick to appear (before 9 a.m.) and there was not one protest. Satisfaction all round, I reckon !
THE FIRST 15 OVERALL
- Malcolm Gibbs/Randal Morgan(Cortina GT), 821 penalties
- Roy Fidler/Alan Taylor (Triumph 2000).896
- Chris Knowles-Fitton/Chris Nash (Cooper S). 916
- David Pollard/Tony Babies (Imp), 1,107
- Dennis Cardell / Gareth Jones (Cooper S), 1,107
- Jock Huggins / Frank Rutter (Lotus-Cortina), 1,149
- Alan Rathmell/Keith Wood (Cortina GT), 1.219
- Bill Bengry/David Skeffington (Cortina GT), 1,276
- Cec Offley/Rob Lyall (Cooper S), 1,289.
- Richard Hill/Gerry Ryan (Cortina GT), 1,291
- Jim Bullough/Don Barrow (LotusCortina), 1,306
- John Bloxham/Vaughan Bond (Cooper S), 1,338
- Ros Goodchild/Ron Crellin (Cooper S) 1,371
- Vic Elford/John Davenport (Lotue Cortina) 1,384
- A. K. Cooke/Mike Wood (Cooper S) 1,398
Team awards: Gibbs/Morgan and Bullough/Barrow
Mixed award: Ron and Evelyn Jamison (Cooper S) 2819.
- David Friswell and Roger Clark were among the non-starters. So were Gerry Bloom/ Graham Robson (was it the former's influenza or the latter' Mal d'Itallia ?), John Sprinzel/Atis Krauklis, whose Midget went electrically haywire on the way to the start, Roger Hedley / Martin Holmes, whose Cooper pumped out oil faster than it could be put in.
- The course cars were rather interesting Japanese machines which have not yet been introduced to the British market. They will soon be available and will, I gather, be rallied. I apologise for the mystery behind this comment, but my arm has been twisted, I fear . .
- Who needs a winch Eaves / Vipond had no trouble extricating their Cooper from the field into which it bad rolled. About 30 marshals and spectators saw to that. They appeared as if from nowhere as soon at the stage closed.
- The pre-rally announcement of suggested service points went down very well. This has been done in previous rallies, and its continuance would be welcomed, I'm sure.
- Richard Harper's layout of route card was really first class. All the gen was presented in the clearest possible way and plotting was simplicity itself. Other organisers could well note this point.
- The first third of the event had been shortened by an overall distance of about 15 miles in order to avoid newly-surfaced forest roads. This accounts for the many early arrivals at the first fuel halt.
- The spelling of the stage names in the table above we exactly as printed in the route card. I say this before I am jumped on by indignant Welshmen. If any other organisers have trouble with Welsh place names, or wish to print bi-lingual P.R. notices, I will be pleased to help.