Welsh Rally

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Two celtic internationals were to have featured in this month’s Motor Sport; instead there is only one, for the Scottish Rally was needlessly cancelled by the RSAC when a petrol shortage was created in Scotland by a strike at a petrol distribution centre. There were fears that the shortage would cripple the rally, but instead of waiting for definite news the RSAC decided at noon on the Wednesday (the rally was scheduled to start the following Sunday) that it should be cancelled. Doubtless the idea was to decide one way or the other before competitors began their journeys to Glasgow so that they would be spared the costs of those journeys. Alas, the RSAC appeared to ignore the time and money already spent on preparing for the event (by competitors, sponsors and others as well as themselves) and seemed not to be able to grasp the fact that very few people indeed. would have minded turning up in Glasgow even if there was only a small chance that the rally would be held. When the RAC Rally was cancelled late on the night before the start in 1967, no-one complained that the decision had not been made earlier. Everyone agreed that it had been right to wait until the last possible moment before calling the event off.

It was necessary .to cancel that RAC Rally, but it was not at all necessary to cancel the 1974 Scottish Rally, for on the day after the announcement petrol supplies were well on the way to being normal again. Indeed, there were under-the-counter indications that this would be the case even before the cancellation decision was made.

Enough about a rally which didn’t happen; now to one which did. In May, the International Welsh Rally occupied a Friday, Saturday and Sunday as usual, the route around the Welsh forests (plus a sortie into England for stages in the Forest of Dean) starting and finishing at Barry in Glamorgan. The event didn’t attract the number of overseas drivers as the Scottish would have had, but nevertheless brought Markku Alan from Finland to romp home a comfortable winner in his works Escort RS. Roger Clark started the rally in his customary nine-tenths way, but before he got a chance to speed up his Escort’s 16-valve engine blew its head gasket and he was out. Swedish visitor Per-Inge Walfridsson never got used to the over-tuned engine in his Volvo which finally blew up on the last morning, whilst Irishman Billy Coleman finished an excellent second, ready all the time to move into the lead had Alert’s smoking engine expired before the finish.

Many British drivers shone during the Welsh Rally, among them such people as Tony Pond, Tony Fall, George Hill, Colin Malkin, Will Sparrow, Paul Faulkner, Nigel Rockey and March Gicrowski. Best Welsh driver was undoubtedly Jeff Churchill from Tonypandy who had been in the running for a position in the leading trio before his clutch broke. Others to retire from good positions were Chris Sclater whose Datsun 260Z blew up and Tony Fowkes whose Escort’s gearbox broke when he was in second place.—G.P.

Results

1st: M. Alen / J. Davenport (Escort RS 1977) 180min. 22sec.

2nd: W. Coleman / D. O’Sullivan (Escort RS 1998) 184min. 14sec.

3rd: A. Pond / Miss F. Cobb (Escort RS 1998) 186min. 55sec.

4th: A. Fall / M. Broad (Opel Ascona 1.9) 188min. 32sec.

5th: G Hill / K. Wood (Vauxhall Firenza 2.3) 190min. 55sec.

6th: C. Malkin / B. Coyle (Hillman Avenger 1600) 191min. 23sec.

7th: W. Sparrow / N. Raeburn (Vauxhall Firenza 2.3) 191min. 59sec.

8th: P. Faulkner / M. Peters (Escort RS 1860) 192. 05sec.

9th: N. Rockey / P. White (Escort RS 1998) 192min. 37sec.

10th M. Gierowski / M. Nichoison (Porsche Carrera 2.8) 192min. 49sec.

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