RALLY REVIEW, December 1980

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RALLY REVIEW

Manipulation by FISA

ItIllg tINt Ac Rally Itigatilwrs Association of New Zealand held their successful Motogard Rally as part of the 1980 World Rally Championship. FISA and its Rally Commission cast a dictatorial and grossly unfair snub in their direction by omiting the rally from the list of championship events in 1981.

No regard whatsoever was paid to the opinions and markings submitted by FISA inspectors, tote to the need lin a geographical pread of events, nor even to a rule that for inclusion in any given year, an event must have been successful in the previous year and have attracted at least 50 starters. In place of the .Motogard Rally. the Rally of the Thousand Lakes was given manufacturers’ status as well as its present drivers’ status, whilst the poorly organised and under-patronised Rally of Brazil was given drivers’ status. No-one will argue against the quality of the Rally of the Thousand Lakes, but the suggestion that the event in Brazil was better than that in New Zealand is totally ridiculous. Voting by Rally Commission members was obviously rigged, for collusion in advance resulted in the selections of members from Mediterranean countries being identical. Indeed, the very nature of the choice suggests that considerations other than ones of fan play svere in the minds of those responsible. It took many years for those who know about the sport to put up sufficient pressure that the FISA. largely those who knew much less about it to create a proper World Rally Championship for Driven. That this championship should now he

manipulated to serve the personal ends of FISA members is intolerable. Authority without ability is had enough, but without integrity it becomes downright criminal. — G.P.

Himalayan battleground

EARLIER this year an Huirared account was published in MOTOR SPORT of tourneys we had made in India to survey the proposed route of the first Himalayan Rally and to produce the roadbook for that event. The route, particularly in the mountains themselves, was astonishing and included some of the most difficult and breathtakingly exciting sections ever to be linked into a rally route.

The raw material was most certainly there: all that remained was the need for an organisation which could process it into a successful rally. Thy rally took place at the end of October and, alas. the organisation wilted visibly. Even though it was a road event with timing only in minutes just like the Safari, results processing was painfully skit. and often inaccurate, whilst a couple of excellent forest sections had to be scrubbed because a marshal decided to issue a bulletin to the first seven cars, sending them along a totally different route. What is more, a political movement decided to take a hand by attempting to disrupt the rally 10 demonstrate its Nwer. This was beyond the control of the organisers. but it did serve to camouflage shortcomings which would otherwise have been more prominent. Mobs of rioters attacked cars with rocks and cudgels, and competitors were not exactly at ease when they had to run several gauntlets which resulted in smashed windows, damaged bodywork and various cuts and bruises. This largely affected

only the leaders. for after the first attacks the rioters dispersed to re-form elsewhere.

Several route changes had to be made to avoid known trouble spins, and finally a decision made to cut out the third leg of the rally, by far the best, which went closest to the snow-capped peaks, through delightful towns such as Ranikhet and Mussoorie. The fourth leg was also drastically cut. and competitors were led from one competitive section to the other in a convoy escorted by police, along roads heavily guarded. This entire operation was kept secret, and even competitors were unaware of the destination, lest the rioters would have time to travel ahead, and it was a terrible shame that many hill villages and towns laid on elaborate preparations for welcoming parties only to he disappointed by she non-appearance of the rally. A tremendous amount of goodwill most he recovered before the rally has any chance of using the same route again. The people of the mountains were quite unlike those of the plains, and the feeling among the majority of competitors, both foreign and Indian, were that they had been needlessly deprived of the pleasure of tackling the best rally sections which the Himalayas could provide.

In the early stages of the rally, Shekhar Mehra in his Opel Ascona and Achim Wannbold in his royota Celica were well matched at the head of the field, but the Toyota broke a valve and Mehta kept his lead to the finish, followed by a couple of girls, Marianne Hoepfner and Oda Dencker-Anderson who were determined to take their Celica through all the riots if that is where the rally went. If the men were prepared to take the risk, then so were they, and every credit to them for doing so. Wolfgang Siller and Hans Schuller were third in their [Nilson 1005, followed by an Australian

trio, Doug Stewart, Brian Hilton and Peter Pattenden in a near-standard Peugeot 505. Best placed Britishers were Dave Liddell and Mark I’Anson in a Talbot Sunbeam which was eighth, whilst tenth went to another British crew, Geoff Warkup and David Howell in a Lada 1600. RAF men Dick Lewis and Bob Jones were 12th in a Land Rover, whilst the much publicised Morris Minor of Philip Young and Rupert Jones was 15th, albeit in a mechanically ailing condition. We are always reluctant to criticise those who are doing a job for the first time, but in this case considerable good advice was simply not taken, particularly in respect of essential requirements. However, if good use is made of lessons learned the hard way, and if sponsors consider it worthwhile, there is no reason why a 1981 version of tbasally should not be a success. — G.P.

Results:

Rad is World Champion

EVEN if there had not been any World Rally Championship in 1980, there would be no doubt as to which driver deserved acclaim as the best performer throughout the year. German driver Walter Rebel, who first became known by getting his Capri among the holders of the 1972 Olympia Rally, has won no less than four championship qualifiers this year, equalling Ove Andersson, previous record, and there can be no doubt that 1980 will have been his year. At the end of October he drove a Fiat 131 Abarth in the Tour of Corsica, and with his usual reliability and tactical precision he restricted himself to achieving a high points-scoring place rather than going all-out for a win. He finished in second place and clinched the championship for himself, and the manufacturers’ category for Fiat. The Tour of Corsica is probably the nearest thing to a road race that one can nowadays achieve without actually breaking all manner of

regulations. It runs over twisty, tarmac roads around the coast and over the mountains of the island, and authorities are so co-operative that the organisers can use special stages, very fast “chronomeu-ic” sections which are really special stages in disguise, and road sections so tight that even a stop for fuel or a wheel change can result in serious time penalties.

Many of the roads are closed to all other traffic, not only the special stages, and there is a distinct atmosphere of both Targa Florio and Mille Miglia, with some discomfort thrown hi caused by high winds, heavy rain and cold nights.

The most outstanding drive in this year’s Tour of Corsica was that of Jean Ragnotti at the wheel of one of Renault Sport’s R5 Turbos. He dominated the first part of the first leg, lost time with a puncture, then forged his way back through the field to take the lead again before the end of that leg. Alas, in the second the car shed its alternator belt, and the overtightened nuts took so long to remove that the unfortunate Ragnotti was beyond his maximum lateness. Bernard Darniche and Guy Frequelin then moved into first and second places in Fiat 131 Abarth and Talbot Sunbeam Lotus respectively, but whilst the latter was overtaking the former on a special stage the cars touched and both went off the road, allowing Jean-Luc Thtrier to take the lead in his privately entered Porsche 911SC which he had rented from the South of France competition workshop operated by The Almeras brothers — the same concern which provided Jean-Pierre Nicolas with the Porsche in which he won the Monte-Carlo Rally two years ago. Therier has recently been doing extremely well in French dirt-road events, but not particularly in those which are on tarmac. In the World Championslhp he has had a run of bad luck in Toyotas, and indeed this is his first World Championship victory since he won the Press-on-Regardless Rally in the USA in 1974. Although the victories by Rohrl and Fiat are assured, lower down the positions are not so clear, for in Corsica the scrutineers very strangely presented Britain’s Andy Dawson, who drove a Datsun 1603 to sixth place, with a note proclaiming that he had been disqualified for an alleged homologation irregularity — front shock absorber top mounts. This was done long after the allowed time, the day after results became final, in fact, and in any case the mountings concerned were those which have been used on Datsuns for some years. Dawson has rightly appealed, and it may be some time before the matter is concluded. Meanwhile, our results continue to show him in sixth place. Ass matter of interest, the scrutineer

concerned was the same who disqualified Maleness winning Mini Cooper S after the 1966 Monte-Carlo rally. — G.P.

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