R.A.C. Rally — Ford retire with a win
The make of the car may change but in the six years that our premier rally has taken to the forests it has always been a Scandinavian behind the winning wheel. Twice each for Eric Carlsson and Tom Trana in Saab and Volvo respectively, then last year it was a British car, the B.M.C. Cooper S, but with Finn Rauno Aaltonen driving, and although this year it’s yet another British car it still took a Swede to bring it home first. While on the subject of this foreign domination of the forests, one should note that in 1965 it was only the first nine places, with the exception of Roy Fidlers’ Triumph 2000 at fifth, that went to the Scandinavians but this year they increased their portion to the first twelve places, with the exception of fifth again, this time to B.M.C.’s Yorkshireman Tony Fall, and Ladies’ Prize winner Pat Moss-Carlsson who at ninth is one place higher than in 1965.
A quick look at the leaders in the results list indicates that the ancient Swedish proverb of “slowly, slowly, catchee R.A.C.” certainly worked in this case. Soderstrom put up fastest time on only six of the fifty-five special stages, yet was always in or very close to the top five, while Kallstrom along with Trana and Aaltonen had only one fastest time. However, both Bengt Soderstrom and Harry ” Sputnik ” Kallstrom (pronounced Shellstrom!) brought back to Fortes London Airport Excelsior Hotel cars which were virtually unmarked. The left-hand-drive Soderstrom Cortina had dinged the offside front wing while B.M.C. mechanics remarked how little underbody damage there was on Kallstrom’s Cooper S—perhaps that isn’t just a nickname! All this ” yumping ” took its toll in Hydrolastic units for Kallstrom among others had two changed during the rally. Of the other two, Trana’s privately entered but works aided 132 S Volvo Amazon suffered for two periods with deranged suspension while Aaltonen spent a frustrating second half nursing a stiff gear change after the remote control casing broke and clattering bearings after oil cooler pipes had split.
Further down Jars Damberg had a very steady rally while two people who overdid the ” slowly, slowly ” bit were Tony Fall and Ove Andersson in the Lancia Fulvia, young Fall was worried about leaving the beaten track and the Swede was playing safe although he was plagued with a multitude of mishaps, like his seat going through the floor, for instance! They both went hell for leather during the last night in Yorkshire, and Fall left the road for a maximum penalty of 500 seconds or 8 min. 20 sec., which certainly cost him second place overall, while Andersson moved up several places to his final seventh.
Further down the field the struggle between the Saab Monte Carlo 850 of Pat Moss-Carlsson and the 1300 c.c. five-speed Renault Gordini R8 of Sylvia Osterberg raged long and bitter with the latter losing by a mere 52 sec. after blowing a head gasket (they had this trouble on the Swedish Rally!) at Silverstone. Anyway despite the final domination of the results, British drivers did show improvement and that they can give as good as they get.
From the Ford camp came three examples. Roger Clark set the pace from the beginning with three fastest times only to retire after the fourth stage when his Lotus nudged a tree head on putting the fan into the radiator and causing eventual retirement through a blown head gasket from the ” cooked ” engine. Namesake, Jim Clark, shook the rally world by his impressively quick performance up to three-quarters of the way through the rally. However, it should be remembered that Jim Clark was rallying only some six years ago in his native Scotland and won events as tough as the ” Border 200,” and also, of course, he is extremely conversant with the handling of the Lotus-Cortina.
From the Ford camp again, Vic Elford showed how much he has got to grips with loose surfaces by putting up times consistently in the top five whenever he didn’t have breakdowns. Of the British B.M.C. crews, Paddy Hopkirk, as usual, gave a faultless display of driving on a par with the best of them and was lying third before a sudden driveshaft failure put him out and, of course, team-mate Tony Fall took the highest placed British driver award, and had he not spent sixteen minutes off the road in the 55th stage (Cropton), he would have got his second overall only a minute behind Soderstrom. Our own top drivers then have shown that they are capable of keeping with the Scandinavians and 1967 may even see at all-British win. We’re so close!
So much for the outcome, then, but it wasn’t so many months ago that it seemed likely that there would he no outcome, in fact no rally, that is, until Barrie Gill, the motoring correspondent of the Sun, arrived as the knight in shining armour. This welcome sponsorship also provided widespread publicity which was magnified by the presence of two television entries and two other press cars. The result of all this publicity was people! People, people everywhere, at the time controls, at all vantage points, on all the stages. The fact that it started on Saturday morning instead of Sunday also helped, but while it brought rallying to the masses it also had its drawbacks. These were mainly on the stages where at odd intervals the irresponsible element would alter arrows, remove ” caution ” signs, and stray on to the track, especially in front of the later numbers. The remedy is more marshals—paid marshals, as in Finland. Of course, more sponsorship is then needed and it all comes back to putting advertising on rally cars, a la Scandinavia. Hint?
As if by token agreement the weatherman also smiled during the rally, and whereas in racing he plays the decisive role as to whether the event is held or not, in rallying adverse weather conditions are oft welcomed with open arms. This is basically because they help put slower cars on a more equal footing with their more powerful cousins. Last year’s blizzards and ice showed this to good effect in that Saabs took third and fourth places while the Triumph 2000 took fifth. However, this year’s virtually fine weather throughout made it more than ever a test of tempered driving over the drier and therefore stonier and harder tracks. An example being the extraordinary number of punctures people incurred!
Although many people at the end complained that one or two of the stages had been unnecessarily rough, for example, the 15-mile boulder-strewn Kielder stage, Jack Kemsley, the man who six years ago transformed the R.A.C. from a conventional road tour into its present format, likes to put in stages for every type of car. Some smooth for the small fast cars and some rough for the big slower cars. His theory is that one should have a retirement rate of 1.7 cars per special stage, but this year the 63 stages held provided only 1.3 retirements each, some of which can be attributed to the good weather conditions, for if it is raining and bitterly cold competitors are loth to get out and fettle, yet when dry and warmer they will crawl underneath whenever necessary.
That’s dealt with the top British crews but what of the rest? Well, an attribution of our present credit squeeze is that the number of British private entries had gone down by some 40 over last year. However, it was pleasing to note that works entries had increased, which is a sure indication of the present status of the R.A.C. Rally in the European Rally Championship calendar. Besides having no entries from behind the Iron Curtain the only works teams absent were Daf, Citroen, Porsche and the Jolly Club of Milan’s Alfa Romeos. It could be said that Regie Renault were represented by the Svenska Renault team, while Volvo had their two semi-private entries in Trana and Kossila.
Let us take a look then at the fortunes of the various works teams. Starting with Saab they had four official cars entered, all Saab Monte Carlo 850s for Swedish and Gulf London rally winner, Ake Andersson, one for Carl Orrenius and one each for the Carlssons The once invincible Saabs are now virtually outpaced and for this reason it is believed Ake Andersson was told to use higher revs. However, he had a piston burn out while Eric Carlsson holed his sump. Poor Carl Orrenius had a contact-breaker spring break when lying second overall, incurred a maximum, and had to be content with 11th. We’ll soon see how the V4 Saabs go, for Mrs. Carlsson is taking one on the Monte Carlo!
Svenska Renault had two official entries in the form of the eventual Monte winner, Pauli Toivonen, in an 1132 R8 Gordini, while Sylvia Osterberg had a 1,300 c.c. Private entries backing them up were motorcycle ace Sten Lundin, Jars Damberg, Hakan Linberg and Kinunnen. Renaults put up quite an impressive performance and, in fact, were unlucky not to have better results, for Pauli Toivonen, after being delayed with several punctures, lost his oil pressure on the last night and Hakan Linberg, after lying third overall at halfway, was to retire soon after with broken transmission. A creditable example of sportsmanship was shown by Kinunnen by donating his gearbox to Linberg at the Sunday morning breakfast stop in Wales when Linberg’s own box broke. Jars Damberg, of course, went on to take sixth overall.
Moving on to Opel there were three works entries, one for Bengt’s brother Bertil Soderstrom, who retired with broken transmission, while a broken gearbox put out the very spectacularly quick Ove Eriksson. It was left to Bjorn Gullberg to keep the Rekord 1900 flag flying and he took eighth place after a steady drive, with this the new single o.h.c. engine. Still from Scandinavia, we had the remnants of the Scania Vabis VW team, a 1600 TL, in the hands of Bjorn Waldegard, who motored steadily on to finish twelfth and last of the main Scandinavian block. Going south down the Continent we move to Italy from whence came the two pretty little front-wheeldrive Lancia Fulvia coupes, one for Leo Cella and the other for Ove Andersson. Leo Cella, although an accomplished rallyist (he has won the Italian Rally of the Flowers twice) has never been in the forests before and until going out with a cracked sump he put up times which more than surprised several people. Ove Andersson, of course, made seventh. Both the Lancias had done several rallies before (including the Acropolis) and were in trouble throughout from bits and pieces falling off, for example, the seats went through the floor and had to be welded to an iron bar which in turn was welded transversely across the body!
The two semi-private Volvos both were to suffer with suspension problems. The fearsome Finn Raimo Kossila completely wrecked his front end, while poor Tom Trana’s hat-trick still escapes him. Both cars were 132s, the two-door variety, and although well tweaked at 130 plus b.h.p., still needed determined driving to be competitive.
Going on then to British manufacturers, first of all, Rootes, who had entered four cars for Peter Harper/Robin Turvey, Tiny Lewis/Tim Boscence, Andrew Cowan/Brian Coyle, and Ladies contenders Rosemary Smith/Valerie Morley. One was loaned to Jenny Nadin and she was co-driven by Ann Hope from the Sun. Rosemary Smith was to suffer with head gasket and overheating troubles throughout the latter half of the rally while Harper, Cowan and Lewis went out in that order with broken gearbox, starwheel and transaxle respectively. Not an eminently successful rally for Rootes but Cowan and Miss Smith made consistently respectable times.
B.M.C. had no less than eight Abingdon prepared Minis in; they themselves entered five, four for the normal team of Makinen, Aaltonen, Hopkirk and Fall, while one was given to Simo Lampinen to be co-driven by last year’s winning co-driver Tony Ambrose. Not being used to the Mini he was never quick, and was unlucky to roll quite early on in Wales. Harry Kallstrom, although B.M.C. Sweden entered, had an Abingdon prepared car as per last year, while there was also the Sunday Times press car for Graham Hill and Maxwell Boyd. Vitafoam Developments entered Rauno Aaltonen’s sister Marjetta, with Carolyn Tyler and Bob Freeborough’s ABC-TV World of Sports entered car had also been works prepared.
Neither Graham Hill nor Marjetta Aaltonen were happy, the former retiring in the Lakes after a cracked sump punctured by a stray planet-wheel tooth and the latter having a virtually uneventful run. Looks like another year without a female crew at B.M.C.!
The only survivor of the Ford team was the winner, for Vic Elford finally retired his battered Lotus—the sump was virtually touching the crankshaft—having pulled back to seventh place by Yorkshire after having had fuel pump earthing problems (which incidentally all the works cars suffered), a broken brake master cylinder and damaged steering. Jim Clark went out after hitting a rock on the Scottish Loch Ard Forest and then rolling on the Glengap stage.
We’ve discussed what happened to the major contenders, so let’s just take a look at the sequence of events. The route took its usual path south-west to Bristol then up through Wales (over the new Severn Bridge) to Oulton Park (which could not be used this year, being a Sunday) and so via the Lake District to the overnight stop at Aviemore. Back via the superb Yorkshire stages and the new innovation of Silverstone to the Excelsior Hotel. The general feeling before the event as always was that everybody would take it easy until Wales and the later stages before really trying. Roger Clark was the first to ignore this feeling by his impressive performance and departure. Makinen then took over until Wales where team-mates Rauno Aaltonen and Kallstrom made appearances on the fastest time lists. It was here that Jimmy Clark also showed his mettle while Soderstrom only made his first fastest time at the 17th special stage, the Dovey 23-miler. By this time Brian Culcheth in an ex-works Mini was out with a broken layshaft, Harper’s gearbox had gone, Simo Lampinen rolled, Kossila crashed and Welsh rally winner Barrie Williams performed his inversion trick! Vic Elford didn’t get a real move on until the five Lake District stages where he set up two fastest times, Makinen taking the other three.
The steady Hakan Linberg made his only best time on one of the first Scottish stages, where also the only fall of snow came, but it was light and of no consequence. At the halfway halt Makinen had a clear six-minute lead over Soderstrom, Linberg, Hopkirk and Kallstrom, the four being within 2-1/2 min. of each other, while in close attendance came Ove Eriksson, Jim Clark, Tony Fall, Pauli Toivonen and Leo Cella. On the way back the punishment on Makinen’s Mini began to tell and after his remote control casing had broken he finally retired at the end of Wark with the idler-gear needle-roller bearing gone and oil on the clutch. He had made 26 fastest times out of the 45 stages done. He’d nearly gone out at the end of Kielder when he arrived with his back brakes alight after a cylinder had burst. With Aaltonen struggling with rumbling bearings and Jim Clark out other people began to make a showing in the fastest tables.
Retirements came thick and fast with such names as Paddy Hopkirk, Pauli Toivonen, Andrew Cowan, Tiny Lewis, Ove Eriksson and Vic Elford. Similarly came the end for Hakan Linberg when a drive coupling went, a broken drive also for the Mini of Lars-Ingvar Ytterbring who came fourth last year but hadn’t been doing so well this time, Roy Fidlers’ Triumph 2000 blew its head gasket, and Leo Cella’s fine drive ended with the holed sump. The last day saw the run south through the mud-bath of Sherwood Forest to Silverstone.
Generally speaking this was the best R.A.C. so far but some aspects could be improved, for instance the inaccurate road-book, we hasten to add though that this is nothing to do with Lombank who so generously print it, or niggling details like numbers only on the lefthand side of the car when several stage finishes had to be positioned on the right. Nevertheless we now have in this country a rally which stands alongside the Acropolis as an example of man’s test of fellow man and his machinery.—A. E. A. K.
Results – General Classification (top five):
1st: B. Soderstrom/G. Palm (Lotus Cortina) … 475 min. 15 sec.
2nd: H. Kallstrom/R. Hakansson (Cooper S) …488 min. 50 sec.
3rd: T. Trans/S. Andreasson (Volvo)… 489 min. 50 sec.
4th: R. Aaltonen/H. Liddon (Cooper S) … 490 min. 22 sec.
T. Fall/M. Wood (Cooper S) … 497 min. 17 sec.
Now that the R.A.C. is over we merely await the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile to finish its rumblings and come up with a Group 2 European Rally Champion, Groups 1 and 3 being settled as we told you in the November issue of Motor Sport with Lillebror Nasenius in his Opel Rekord and Gunther Klass in the Porsche 911 respectively. Before the R.A.C. they suddenly sent us figures which didn’t tally in any way with our carefully recorded numerals, so we’ll save further comment until more is known except that it looks as if Timo Makinen may have got the title after all.
Let us then take a chronological glance through the fourteen events which made up the Championship, and, of course, one starts off with the Monte fiasco. The Monte Carlo Rally in itself is superb, for after the traditional congregational journey is over the crews face two fast and demanding loops over classic Alpine sections. Therefore, the tremendous B.M.C. 1, 2, 3 in the face of Europe’s best opposition is an achievement which will be hard to rival, by rallyists that is, not organisers, for the latter showed just how easy it is to eliminate unwanteds by quaint interpretations of their own regulations. Sadder still, the F.I.A. at an appeal heard last October found agreement with the Monagesque moguls. Boycotts were spoken of all the year but the works will be there again, for although the French public may have been deceived into thinking that Pauli Toivonen’s Citroen DS21 came first, the rallying people all know that physically (or should one say fiscally) it was René Cotton who took the premier award.
Our three major manufacturers achieved fantastic publicity, more than the original results would have accorded them, but this doesn’t help the crews who lost some of the accompanying bonuses and prize money. It is interesting to hear that works crews out on recce recently have been getting a frosty reception from the club; isn’t patriotism marvellous!
Two other points of interest about the Monte are that this was the last full works entry by both Rover and Triumph, a shame, for Geoff Rover-mounted Mabbs in one of his rare appearances, took best British and tenth overall, while Roy Fidlers’ Triumph 2000 came in 14th.
In search of more snow we went north to Scandinavia where only two years ago the Swedish Rally was known as the Rally to the Midnight Sun, and took the form of a midsummer trek to the northern wastes. As usual, public opinion forced it to move to winter, and one can’t help feeling that it was for the better. The coldest week of the year saw top Scandinavian crews battle for traction and for top honours over stages ploughed between car-high snowbanks. One innovation they had was to let a snow plough driver loose on a frozen river to cut out a 40-kilometre snake-like stage. He did, and how, but there is no truth in the rumour that he had drunk a bottle of Schnaps beforehand!
British entries found the cold the bitterest enemy with driving on snow and ice the next. One man to master it well was Vic Elford, who really had a go in the second half and managed fourth overall, with John Davenport as co-driver. B.M.C. were unlucky to have both Finns break transmissions, while Ake Andersson limped in with a cracked sump on his Saab to win marginally from another works Saab, that of Simo Lampinen. Comment from Roy Fidler after the event was that he will never trust snowbanks again, for they look solid enough, but any excursion can cost hours of digging to get the cocooned car out.
Having only encountered minor scrutineering fracas on the Swedish rally it was most disappointing to find another major upset on the Italian Rally of the Flowers. Held in the latter part of February to the accompaniment of torrential rain, this well-organised event has the most compact route imaginable, the proverbial horny armadillo and all that! Very rough at times, it climbed all over the Italian Dolomites, using passes akin to the classic Gavia and Vivione. There was also a controversial handicapping system applied to both road and stage penalties, which heavily favoured small capacity cars with heavy bodies—Eric Carlsson should have been there to repeat his victory of 1964 (meaning the Saab’s small capacity!), as it was, Vic Elford’s Lotus-Cortina was classified first only to be subsequently disqualified for having non-standard con-rods. There was some considerable argument involving typing errors on the homologation sheet but the F.I.A. issued a statement after the appeal, giving the former as the reason for the disqualification. Victory then went to Leo Cella’s Lancia Fulvia, which just stayed ahead of Gunther Klass’s Porsche 911.
Mercifully, the new-look Tulip Rally in April had not the slightest taint of argument, so that it was possible to savour fully the tremendous performance of the reigning European Rally Champion, Rauno Aaltonen, teamed here for the first time with Henry Liddon, as he hurled the 1275 Cooper S up the 18 hillclimbs and over the three flat stages. His scant lead over the ever-pursuing Lotus-Cortina of Vic Elford/John Davenport ended up at 45 sec., while in Group I team-mate Timo Makinen held off Ford’s Bengt Soderstrom by only 8 sec. It is sad that the two Finns tossed a coin at Sebring to decide who would drive what, and it’s a fact that the winning Mini was the highest tuned so far, giving 92 b.h.p. at the road wheels, two or three more than normal.
Best private owner, and tenth overall, went to the Mustang GT350 of John Kennerley, while Peter Harper’s Tiger took third overall and Group 3. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of this rally is the famous Tulip Ball—where having a real ball is the operative word. Certainly, though, this is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy Continental rallying as far as the private owner is concerned.
This year even the last obstacle of handicapping, which enabled the Imps to win the snowbound ’65 event, had been removed and everything was on a straight scratch basis. The weather stayed sunny on into May for the Austrian Alpine, where Paddy Hopkirk repeated his 1964 outright victory, crewed this time by Ron Crellin. Certainly the most scenic event, the all-daylight 1,000-mile tour of the Southern Tauern Alps and Northern Jugoslavia was decided by peculiar class and group improvement methods, yet the flying Irishman made certain of an unqueriable victory by being fastest over the 109 km. of stages, beating all-comers, including the Porsches headed by Klass. Team-mate Tony Fall with Mike Wood clumped a log pile in Jugo, while Ford didn’t attend because the rally only counted for Groups 1 and 3 of the E.R.C. We hear that for next year (at last) prize money will be given, stages will be marked on a scratch basis and servicing will be allowed.
Talking of sunshine and Hopkirk, both were in abundance only two weeks later in Greece. The sun shone, but the results were stormy, for bumptious organisers marred this, the finest rally in the E.R.C. calendar. Many of the ” works ” were there and the battle for honours raged for two nights and a day over 3,000 kilometres of ancient Grecian rocks and dust. Tragedy for Volvo when a service car crashed, killing the mechanics and resulting in the withdrawal of Trana and Andersson, but Makinen and Hopkirk dominated, with Elford’s Lotus only seconds behind. The Finn’s suspension broke and Hopkirk cracked his sump; Elford’s lead lasted only a few hours, for his gearbox seized. Aaltonen was out with a broken timing chain and Hopkirk assumed a marginal lead from the steady Lotuses of Bengt Soderstrom/Gunnar Palm and Roger Clark/Brian Melia. Pat Moss-Carlsson lost a secure ladies prize to the Rallye Imp of Rosemary Smith and Val Domleo when her Saab seized its engine, while the Tiger of Peter Harper/Ian Hall had to he content with second in Group 3 to the quickly driven Lancia Fulvia HF of Ove Andersson. Paddy Hopkirk and Ron Crellin nursed their 1275 round, with the special Stuart Turner chewing gum holding well, only to have a nerve-shattering disqualification four minutes from the results becoming final. Again in October the F.I.A. passed its sombre judgement and Ford gained their first outright victory although rather a hollow one.
How ironical that the very next rally, The Geneva, should be won for Ford by a lone Belgian semi-private owner in the absence of the “works”. Gilbert Staepelaere with André Aerts in the Group 1 Lotus held off the Tony Fall/Henry Liddon Mini-challenge over a number of selectives in classic Alpine country. Group 1 small capacity cars were heavily favoured, which is why René Cotton entered two Panhard 24CTs, Ogier’s taking a close third place! Nevertheless, B.M.C. had their consolation in the manufacturers’ team prize with two class wins for private owners Brian Culcheth/ Johnstone Syer and Bob Freeborough/Attis Krauklis. Spirited driving. was seen from Verrier’s and Bianchi’s Citroen DS21s, while Guy Larousse made one of the rare NSU Prinz 1000 entries and took sixth overall. Jean-Jacques Thuner collected Group 3 in the Swiss Leyland racing team’s Triumph Spitfire (the only semi-works appearance of this car in 1966) while the Porsche 911 conductor Gunther Klass showed Teutonic determination by standing on the bumper and operating the broken throttle linkage by hand while co-driver Wutherich steered—some guts!
B.M.C. re-entered the limelight in July when Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon took first place on the Czech Rally Vltava with Bengt Soderstrom a close second in his Lotus-Cortina and Makinen was an even closer third. Makinen’s misery it surely was, for he was fastest all the way, only to have a rocker arm break on the final test. Vic Elford was another unlucky, or should one say lucky, person, in that he departed the road in a big way, but without personal injury. Zasada had a loaned Abingdon Mini, albeit in Group 1 form and drove impressively well. Eric Carlsson had a petrol union put him out, while Mrs. Carlsson took the Ladies Prize in her Saab with Liz Nystrom.
Starting in Italy the West German Rally proved to be a washout in both senses of the word, and in fact is being dropped from the E.R.C. next year because of a dangerous night-navigation section. As expected, Gunther Klass’ Porsche won from Cavallari’s Alfa Romeo GTA, expected because 80% of the special tests consisted of circuit races at the Hockenheim and Nurburg Rings. From Britain the only two were Hopkirk and Fall and both retired on consecutive laps of Hockenheim with oil starvation.
The two Finns and Fall went to Poland for the Polish Rally, while Brian Culcheth and Johnstone Syer backed them up. For Ford Roger Clark and Brian Melia made a lone appearance. The main feature of the Polish was the marking which was based on the old Monte coefficient and favoured small-capacity cars, hence Fall and Culcheth in 970Ss. A secondary but, nevertheless, exciting feature was the incredibly high speed night section. From 7 p.m. till 9 a.m. on the streaming wet second night it was pace notes all the way over rough and stony woodland tracks or cobbled side roads— marvellous shades of the Liege! The 5% advantage for under1,000-c.c. cars helped and together with a marking error, unchecked by Paul Easter, Tony Fall and your Motor Sport rally scribe, Attis Krauklis took first place by a narrow margin. Poor Culcheth contracted diarrhoea and Roger Clark lost time through wrong slotting amongst other things. Zasada’s incredible Steyr-Puch took third place, and Aaltonen retired with broken transmission.
Timo Makinen had compensation, though, some two weeks later when he drove rings round the rest of the Scandinavians to take premier position on home territory, in the Finnish 1,000 Lakes Rally. Having changed his hydrolastic for dry suspension which he prefers on the loose, twisty and yumpy Finnish stages, he led all the way from Tom Trana’s Volvo and the sister car of Rauno Aaltonen. Ford had bad luck again, Soderstrom’s gearbox breaking when he was lying second, while Roger Clark had fun guesstimating which way the blind brows went!
The three-legged Alpine Rally has always been one of the best tests of teamwork, for a moment’s hesitation by a co-driver on any one of the three sections can cost his driver that coveted award—the Coupe des Alpes, which is awarded for a penalty-free run on the road. Rauno Aaltonen lost a gold Coupe (three consecutive penalty-free runs) in 1965 for just such a two-minute slip, and was this year again to drop two minutes, this time through an electrical breakdown. Nevertheless, he went on to take third place. Makinen and Hopkirk were out within hours of the start, while the hapless Vic Elford had a tappet break when leading at halfway. Jean Rolland was driving one of the Conrero-prepared Jolly Club Alfa Romeos, and this Digne garage proprietor very smoothly drove steadily throughout to win this arduous event. The Alpine also saw the first public appearance of the Group 5 1,500 c.c. Renault R8’s and future potential can be seen in that Piot took fourth place in one; incidentally, he is the only driver up for a Coupe d’Or next year.
With only a handful of special stages and rough roads the flat-out Finn, Timo Makinen, with his usual co-driver, Paul Easter, had less chance of something breaking, and so took a fairly comfortable first overall in the Munich-Vienna-Budapest or 3 Cities Rally. The event this year was much improved with better sections, organisation and results. Leo Cella was second in the Lancia Fulvia, while Nasenius made certain of his Group 1 championship. That was in October and, of course, you know all about the R.A.C. Whereas in 1965 B.M.C. had seven outright E.R.C. wins they fared slightly worse this year with six, but then there was the moral Monte win. It’s been a year of mixed fortunes with Saab getting their first win for two years; others to get one each were Citroen, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Porsche. The biggest biter of the B.M.C. apple was Ford who, after several years of unsuccessful trying, got a private win in Staepelaere’s Geneva, the Acropolis farce, but finally a well-deserved win on home ground. While they develop the new Cortina, Ford will concentrate on the World Rally Trophy next year (Safari, Shell 4,000, Marathon de is Route, which they won this year), so leaving the British flag to be upheld by the Mighty Minis, although these also will be doing a reduced programme. We’ll have more next month on what’s going on in the coming season.—A.E.A.K.