General Classification :
1st : R. Clark/G. Robson; (Lotus-Cortina) 2,221 penalties.
2nd : S. Lampinen/J. Davenport; (Triumph 2000) 2,777 penalties.
3rd : R. Fidler/A.J. Taylor (Triumph 2000) 3,393 penalties.
4th : W. Fritchy/J,R. Gray (Cooper ‘S’) 3,625 penalties.
5th : B. Culcheth/J. Brown (Cooper “S”) 3.868 penalties.
6th : C. Malkin/J, Gonn (Cooper ‘S’) 4.095 penalties.
7th : M. Esmor-Thomas/B. Hughes (Cooper ‘S’) 4,113 penalties.
8th : K.D. Power/L. Evans (Cortina GT) 4,153 penalties.
9th : D. Thompson/D.J. Stephenson (Cortina GT) 4.265 penalties.
10th : D.H. Ray/S. Gray (Cortina) 4.375 penalties.
Class Awards :
1st : Offley/T.Harrison (Mini).
2nd : D. Thistlewaite/J. Youd (Imp).
3rd : R. Clark/G. Robson (Lotus-Cortina).
4th : S. Lampinen/J. Davenport (Triumph 2000).
Team Award :
Ecurie Cod Fillet; (Lampinen, Fidler and Culcheth)
The International Welsh Rally held on December 10/12th was announced as the fourth event since the rally gained international status, but it was actually only the third, since a completely snowbound route brought about a cancellation of the rally two years ago. As a result, the full backing of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders was not possible, since this body requires that an event shall already have been held on three occasions before it becomes eligible for trade support. It therefore follows that next year’s Welsh Rally will be so supported, bringing it into line with parallel events such as the Scottish International Rally and the Circuit of Ireland. A peculiarity of the event was its appearance in the calendar for the second time in the same year. The reason was a transfer of date from January to December, a move calculated mainly to attract more entries by making the gap between the Welsh and the Monte wider, but also to lessen the risk of cancellation due to snowbound forest roads. To a certain extent the change of date paid off, as the entry list was fully subscribed at 120, but even so it did not bring in quite the number of continental entries as the organisers had hoped for. It is fairly certain that the backing of the S. of M.M. & T., which is expected for next year, will considerably enhance the entry list, though perhaps the expectation that it will soon be accepted as a qualifier for the European Rally Championship is too much of a pipe dream at present. A Scandinavian who did come over for the event was Simo Lampinen who drove a works-prepared Triumph 2000, but perhaps he had been persuaded by his English co-driver, John Davenport, who is soon to join the Ford of Britain team. The other Scandinavian, Lars-Ingvar Ytterbring, had left his Cooper ‘S’ in England after the R.A.C. Rally, in which he finished seventh overall, but the expectation that he would lead the B.M.C. attack did not materialise as the car suffered a broken gearbox and was retired.
Common to the events of both January and December were the weather conditions. During the weeks prior to the rally, rain and melting snow combined to make many of the forest roads in central Wales impassable, but very few stages eventually had to be cancelled—only four of a total of 39—though some were shortened. One, at Beddgelert, was deleted from the results because a combination of heavy rain and high winds had turned a direction arrow and competitors were arriving at the end of the stage from two directions. A stage hitherto unused was that in Kerry Forest in which 4.2 miles of rough road had been packed into an area barely a mile square.
First car to leave the start on the outskirts of Cardiff at 9 p.m. was the Cortina GT of Bill Bengry, winner of last January’s event partnered on this occasion by David Skeffington. Following him were the Triumph 2000s of Lampinen/Davenport and Roy Fidler/Alan Taylor. Then came the Cooper `S’ of Ytterbring and the Lotus-Cortina of Roger Clark, recent acquisition of the Ford team, co-driven by Graham Robson.
After a moderated run through the South Wales mining valleys, the special stages started with a run over the artillery ranges at Mynydd Eppynt, on tarmac roads which many drivers managed without penalty, bogey time for the 14 miles being 16 min. 50 sec. In fact, Eppynt provided no less than five stages out of the first nine, thus satisfying the tastes of those who like a variety of surfaces in their rallies.
In one of these early stages, Lampinen punctured a tyre and was obliged to drive to the end of the stage, Crychan II, on the rim, but he nevertheless made second fastest time, Clark’s 7 min. being faster by 40 seconds.
After breakfast at Llandrindod Wells, where Clark had a narrow lead over Lampinen, the need to use the Abergwesyn Mountain Road, the icing of which caused a monumental traffic jam in the ditches on the R.A.C. Rally was removed, as a stage which bordered it had been cancelled due to flooding. Instead, the route to the shortened Myberin stage lay through the lovely Elan Valley, though it is doubtful whether any of the competitors had even the slightest thought for the view. Rolling was much in evidence round about this time, with Bowyer inverting a Cortina GT at Myberin and Williams doing the same thing to a similar car at Hafren I.
The route into the northern part of Wales lay over the Hirnant Pass which, the previous day, had still been blocked by snow, but which had cleared at the eleventh hour to the intense relief of the organisers. One of the North Wales stages suffered from a late-arriving marshal whose hastily erected arrows blew down, again causing confusion over the correct route.
Talierin Stage, which was foggy on the summit, saw Gibbs in the forefront in his Anglia GT„ with a time 15 seconds ahead of Clark, who still led overall. A loss of 11 minutes by going off the road at Llanbed was partially made up by Lampinen whose desperate efforts to catch up were to no avail, despite a spin by Clark during the three-lap speed test at Llandow circuit.
Although certain stages. suffered from questionable timing, the rally was generally a success and credit is due to the S.W.A.C. for making it so, and the competitors for surviving, against the opposition of torrential rain.—G. P.