Track back -- 50/30/20/10 years ago

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Saabs upstage Ford’s effort — Gruelling Arctic conditions prove rallying isn’t simply about horsepower

Sometimes it’s the softly-softly approach which works. Against two works Ford Escorts and a pair of factory Fiats, Saab Finland pulled off an unexpected victory in the Arctic Rally with its ageing V4-engined 95, and rubbed it home by making it a 1-2-3. Simo Lampinen/Juohni Markkanen finally triumphed despite Stig Blomqvist’s string of fastest stage times in a Saab run by the Swedish factory. A couple of time-wasting offs dropped Blomqvist to 10th and meant he had to drive furiously to recover, but he fell just shy of Lampinen. Jari Vilkas/Juhanni Soini completed the 1-2-3.

Saab’s strongest rivals in the tough Finnish event should have been Timo Mäkinen (Escort) and the Fiat 124 Abarths of Markku Alén/Illka Kivimaki and Hannu Mikkola/Jean Todt. But as Alén cleared a brow at the end of a long straight he discovered it was not ‘flat’ but a sharp right turn. His Fiat cleared the snow bank and disappeared so far into the drifts that he and Kivimaki abandoned it and walked out of the stage. Mikkola, meanwhile, was trying to recover from the effects of an electrics problem which forced him to drive the first serious night-time stage on sidelights only. But on stage 13 he wedged the Fiat sideways across the road and had to be pushed out of the way by a following competitor. Mikkola was not happy with the Fiat’s handling, and a succession of little difficulties meant that he never figured in the running.

Blomqvist took an early lead, but after two offs on successive stages, found he had given his car rear-wheel steering. So at the first rest halt it was the favourite, Mäkinen, leading, but not far behind were the Saabs of previous year’s winner Tapio Rainio and Lampinen. Coming man Ari Vatanen, already dubbed ‘the new Flying Finn’, was struggling with gearbox problems but had lifted his Opel Ascona up to an impressive fourth. He would later roll out of the rally.

Against the odds Rainio overhauled Mäkinen shortly after the restart, only for his overstressed V4 to break a camshaft. But Mäkinen’s restoration was not to last: smoke from the Escort’s engine bay signalled a terminal fire. So in short order Lampinen had jumped to the top spot, and he never let it go. Behind him, Stig was caning his car to close the gap: on one stage he went off three times and drove the last few miles on a flat tyre, yet only lost 5sec to Lampinen. It wasn’t enough, though, and as the four-day event came to a close in the little town of Rovaniemi, the Swede had to accept that though he’d shown speed enough to win the event, the price of leaving the road several times was to be runner-up.

Down in Group 1, Pentti Airikkala was going well in the new DTV Vauxhall Magnum until he buried it in deep snow and lost minutes digging it out, allowing Kyösti Hämäläinen through to take class honours and fourth overall in his Chrysler Avenger.

Against its modern square-cut rivals the taper-tailed Saab 95 may have looked impossibly antiquated, but over the Arctic’s narrow, rutted roads it proved yet again that in snowy conditions less power and front-wheel drive could still do the business.

***

Also this month in ’75:

Title Fight

For the first time in the championship’s history, Le Mans will not be part of the world sportscar series. After the ACO sets its own rules for the 24-hour event, featuring GTs rather than prototypes, the CSI deepens the feud by dropping the famous race from its listing.

‘Stone Build

Silverstone circuit begins work on a new pits complex. The £120,000 project should result in one of the most advanced facilities in the world, says manager George Smith, and should cope with all demands for the next 10 years.

Skier Jumps

British ski champion Divina Galica announces she is going motor racing professionally. Having shown promise in races in 1974, she will drive a 1.8-litre BDA Escort in Special Saloons. John Webb, her patron, says he wants to see her In F5000 by 1976.

‘The Bike’ Quits

Mike Hailwood retires from motorsport. The ‘bike star had been the 1972 European F2 champion with Surtees but was winless with the squad’s F1 team, and with McLaren, too. He was lying fourth in the ’74 title chase when he crashed at the ‘Ring. His decision to stop follows protracted leg surgery.

***

1995:

McLaren powers to a debut victory in the Global GT Endurance race at Jerez. Three F1 GTRs enter, top the grid, and lead the early stages of the four-hour mini-enduro. But a series of misfortunes almost gifts victory to a GT2 Porsche running in the GT1 class.

Former British F3 runner-up Maurizio Sandro Sala, sharing one Gulf GTR with ’80s C2 star Ray Bellm, has handling problems during his stint, so the lead is handed to the Wollek/Bouchut/Jarier 911 as the other Gulf F1 loses a wheel. At the restart, Bellm retakes the lead but spins, prompting a scorching double stint which finally bags a 16sec win. “I think it was the performance of my life,” he claims later.

***

1985:

IMSA-spec Porsche 962s achieve a 1-2-3-4 sweep as the Daytona 24 Hours opens the US sports-racing season. Bob Tullius’ Jaguar XJR-5 keeps pressure on the favourite Al Holbert/Derek Bell/Al Unser Jnr 962, but all bets are soon off. Two hot-rodded Marches (one on pole with 800 Buick horses) lead early on, but break; then the Group 44 Jag erupts in flames when a tyre bursts, sending Tullius into a huge shunt; he is lucky to escape with minor burns, and the pace car is out for 45min. This allows Bob Wollek/Thierry Boutsen/Al Unser Snr/A J Foyt to inherit the chase in Preston Henn’s 962, but the Holbert car builds a healthy cushion during the night.

As midday approaches, Bell takes over from Holbert — but the car won’t start. It takes 3min to fire, and once on the circuit it cuts again — four times, once when Bell is at the top of the banking. “It felt very lonely up there, all alone with no power,” says the Brit ace afterwards. Steadily his lead evaporates as the fault comes and goes, and with only half an hour to go Wollek in the Valvoline Porsche passes its faltering rival 962 to claim victory.

***

1955:

On the Exeter Trial A E Hay’s Lotus Special “made climbing Fingle look like child’s play.”

Related articles

Related products