In the face of road surfaces varying from smooth tarmac to rough dirt and even mud, and the strong opposition of Toyota, Mitsubishi and Mazda, Lancia’s chances in Portugal of yet another runaway victory were certainly less than they were in the days of their totally unchallenged wins and winner selection by team management.
Indeed, Lancia victories have been so common that, without any prejudice whatsoever, people close to the sport have even been casting bones on the ground in the hope of a greater variety of winners and a better spread of points throughout the year so that the World Championship categories may remain unsettled until the final round.
When the first leg of the rally was over, and thirteen special stages gone, it seemed that their hopes may be realised. It was Toyota’s Carlos Sainz who led by 39 seconds from Lancia’s Massimo Biasion who was only six seconds ahead of Kenneth Eriksson’s Mitsubishi. Ari Vatanen’s Mitsubishi was next, followed by the Lancia of Didier Auriol, just one and a half minutes separating the first five. Hannu Mikkola’s Mazda was seventh, but team-mate limo Salonen had retired even before the start of the rally itself; its engine suffered irreparable damage during the spectator stage held on a track near the coast on the day before the start.
Alas, this was not to be. Although Sainz held out in a strong position until the closing stages of the rally, the other challengers to Lancia domination dropped out one by one. Armin Schwarz went off the road in his Toyota, as did Vatanen in his Mitsubishi, sliding off and down a bank when an unexpected mud patch appeared just before a T-junction.
Mitsubishi lost its second car when Kenneth Eriksson’s gearbox broke, whilst the last remaining opposition to Lancia was removed when Sainz stopped after a troublesome clutch finally gave up.
The result was a triumphant convoy of no less than five Lancia Delta Integrales at the head of the field, led by Biasion, Auriol and Kankkunen. Mikkola’s Mazda, in sixth place, was the only Japanese car to finish in the first dozen, and the only other variety was provided by a pair of Ford Sierra Cosworths, driven by Belgium’s Marc Duez and Portugal’s Joaquim Santos, in eighth and ninth places.
The only British driver was Louise Aitken-Walker in an Opel Kadett GSI entered by GM Eurosport. After her excellent place in Monte-Carlo, she and her Swedish co-driver Christina Thorner were aiming for more points in the ladies’ section of the World Championship, but this time it was not to be. In the fourth special stage, their car went off the road, down a steep bank which could more appropriately be called a ravine, and dropped into a very deep river. The Kadett sank almost immediately, and it was indeed fortunate that the two girls had not been injured in the fall and were able to get out of the car, swim to the surface and then to the bank. It was an experience that neither will forget, the seriousness of which can be measured from the fact that it took some days for a recovery team helped by divers, a crane, a winch and even the Portuguese army to recover the car! GP
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The Austin Healey Club will be holding the first of its Championship race series on April 22nd at Lydden Hill. The John Gott Memorial Race will also be held at the meeting.
The AHC has also organised a Lakes Weekend which will take place on May 1 lth-13th in Cartmell, one of the most picturesque villages in the Lake District. The whole weekend will revolve around the village with activities including a planned drive, treasure hunt, Cartmell Concours d’Elegance and a driving test.
The Z Club is an independent nonprofit club for the owners or drivers of the Datsun Fairlady Z Sportscar series. A quarterly magazine is issued free to all members and future events include an International Meeting in Holland on April 29th.
The organisers of the Lotus Festival, sponsored by Club Lotus at Stoneleigh on April 21st-22nd would like to hear from anyone who owns a Lotus 30 or Lotus 40. All Lotus cars are welcome to the show, and a unique feature of this year’s show is that Lotus owners can actually drive their cars into the show hall where they will be “on show” among models of the same type.
Hundreds of Mini owners from all over the country are expected to head for Ocean Village in Southampton on Sunday April 8th, to take part in the city’s first rally for what is arguably Britain’s best loved car. The Mini Magic Rally will begin at about 11am when some 30 different variants of the cult car will be on parade and later in the day, 25 to 30 members of the Mini Cooper Register will take part in a driving skills competition. It is hoped that the driver’s passengers will be sporting and media personalities from across the South. All Minis which turn up on the day will be viewed by the judges and prizes presented to the oldest Mini, the most appealing Mini, and the car which has travelled furthest to attend. The Cannon multiplex cinema will also be joining in the fun, with a special screening of The Italian Job featuring the famous Mini car chase, rare archival footage and the first cinema advertisement for the Mini.
The Basingstoke Motor Club Tour, which now constitutes Round 1 of the ACSMC Road Rally Championship after last year’s successful event, will take place on Saturday 31st March.
The Killiecanter Navigational Rally will take place on Saturday 24th March and is being organised by strong>Kilmarnock Car Club. The rally will cover 92 miles on smooth tarmac and 2 miles on unsurfaced roads.
The Vintage Sports-Car Club is holding a race meeting at Silverstone on Sunday 21st April. This will include the Patrick Lindsay Pre-War Historic Race, the ltala and Lanchester Trophies race, scratch and handicap races and the High Speed Trial. The Allcomers Race this years will include a round of the Mulberry Challenge.
The Pre-war Austin Seven Club hope to attract over 500 entrants again this year to their Autokarna in Wollaton Park, Nottingham on Sunday 3rd June. As well as the vintage motor cars, motor cycles, traction engines and miniature steam exhibits which will be on show, there will be an autojumble with around 150 stalls. There is also an Industrial Museum with a full working beam engine and a Natural History Museum in the confines of the park. Admission and car parking are free, so why not go along and help boost the attendance numbers over last year’s record 15,000 visitors.
The Sunbeam Rapier Owners Club and Association of Rootes Car Clubs will be holding a joint Northern Spring Meeting at Riber Castle Wildlife Park, near Matlock, Derbyshire on Sunday 20th May. Car club members will receive reduced admission charges for the day at £2 for adults and £1 for the children. As well as the animals and the superb views, the Park boasts a licensed bar, cafeteria, gift shop and children’s playground so it should prove to be a great day out. On the motoring front, there will be driving tests, trophies for the best car in each marque, and plenty of space for members or the trade to sell spares or autojumble.
The annual High Peak Run for historic vehicles will take place for the twelfth time on Sunday 3rd June. Last year over 120 cars and motorcycles took part ranging from veterans of the 1920’s to post-war classics.
The Alvis Owner Club is holding its International Alvis Weekend on May 18th/20th at Duxford Air Museum.
This year’s National Triumph Day is on June 17th and will be held at Littlecote in Hungerford, Berks., the home of Peter de Savary who owns one of the finest collections of vintage and classic cars in Britain. Everyone is welcome, with or without Triumphs.
The 750 Motor Club is planning to celebrate the 40th year of the 750 Formula at its race meeting on July 8th. The first event was at Silverstone on June 3rd 1950 with 14 cars, all variations of the Austin 7, finishing, and was covered by MOTOR SPORT in July 1950 (page 323). The Club would like to contact as many of the original competitors as possible and arrange an assembly of their cars wherever they still exist. Any information from readers will be most welcome as will details of subsequent drivers and/or their cars.
The Classic and Historic Motor Club will be running its first Bath Festival Run on Sunday June 3rd for pre-59 vehicles in conjunction with the famous Bath International Festival of Music and Arts. The event will be a touring assembly starting in the midst of the city and taking in some of the best of the surrounding countryside. The Grand Finale will be an outdoor concert and picnic “Glyndebourne style” in the beautiful setting of Bath’s Royal Victoria Park. The music will be in the “Big Band” Thirties and Forties style and it is hoped that entrants will wear suitable period dress to help set the scene for the day.
Club News is compiled by Shara Simpson.