Rex Chappell, 1960 Trials Champion, driving his Cannon-Ford trials car, successfully defended his title by a clear eight points at the R.A.C.’s 1961 Championship event, which was held at Ilkley on December 16th, and organised by the Yorkshire Sports Car Club. A strong challenge by John Harrison (Harford) and Peter Highwood (Canhi) was just held off, despite the former having a slender lead at the halfway stage.
The morning tests were undertaken on mist-shrouded pastureland at Wharfedale Grange Farm, Ben Rhydding, Nr. Ilkley, the cars being routed to the location by the local constabulary and encouraged by the townsfolk, who turned out in force to see the cavalcade of eighteen cars started by the Chairman of the Ilkley Council. The grass on the hills soon turned to mud, although the method of constantly moving the running order for each driver evened out any handicap for those starting initially at the tail-end of the field. At the lunch-break at the Lister’s Hotel, John Harrison was leading with 62 points, Peter Highwood had 63, Ran Kemp (Cannon) 65, and Rex Chappell 68.
The afternoon sections were held up in the moors, away from the low-lying mist and most hills wended their way through birch saplings and brambles. Several tests included small streams and all had muddy patches, with a number of tightly marked sections and, occasionally, a tight turn on an adverse camber, which tended to throw the backs of the cars across the marker tapes, thus causing several to drop points before actually losing traction. John Harrison found his differential had broken on arrival at the afternoon sections and a hurried journey back to Ilkley produced a spare which was fitted in record time and allowed the young Sheffield driver to continue without penalty. Unfortunately, the excitement of a quick repair job seemed to put the driver off his style and the first hill in the afternoon saw a complete failure and a loss of twelve points. This was really the turning point in the Championship and allowed Rex Chappell to get the lead within the next few hills. A determined drive by Harrison on the following hills pulled back some of the lost points and he eventually managed to finish second with 100 points lost, eight behind the winner, Rex Chappell. Peter Highwood finished third with 102 points.
Of the eighteen cars competing, eleven were Cannons, three were Harfords (Mk. I, II and III), two were just called Ford Specials, one had the name ” Oliver,” while another, a modified Cannon driven by Peter Highwood, was called a “Canhi.” All were using the Ford side-valve engine in either the E93A (which is preferred for its slightly lower power output) or the 100E version. The majority used a Ford Eight cylinder-head to increase the compression-ratio, or the aluminium Aquaplane head.
Gear ratios in general were the usual Ford 10 used in conjunction with slightly larger rear wheels, and the favourite clutch was the stronger Thames van version. All the Cannons had transversely mounted front leaf springs with two Armstrong-type telescopic dampers, and the three Harfords had one centrally mounted damper.-E. W.
1st: R. Chappell (Cannon), 92.
2nd: J. F. Harrison (Harford), 100.
3rd: P. F. Highwood (Canhi), 102.
4th: R. Kemp (Cannon), 108; 5th: I. E. Portlock (Cannon), 118; 6th: E. Harrison (Harford), 121; 7th: G. L. Holdrup (Cannon), 136; 8th: F. T. Lewis (Cannon), 136; 9th: G. D. Hobson (Ford Special), 137; 10th: E. Jackson (Cannon), 140; 11th: B. H. Dees (Cannon), 146; 12th: L. Hurt (Ford Special), 147: 13th: J. Deeley (Oliver), 160; 14th: T. C. Harrison (Harford), 165; 15th: G. Lindsay (Cannon), 165; 16th: C. W. Pollard (Cannon), 165; 17th: G. J. Newman (Cannon), 168; 18th: T. A. Marshall (Cannon), 185.
(18 starters-18 finishers).