Shortened Scottish shows its teeth

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The over-the-Border equivalent of the RAC, the Royal Scottish Automobile Club, have had more than their share of public problems in staging their classic event in recent years. Last year a refinery strike at one of the major brand establishments caused the Scottish Rally to be cancelled by a committee concerned about the effect of running a motorsport event at a time when the public had difficulty in purchasing petrol. As it turned out the dispute was resolved in time and motor manufacturers joined with a number of journalists in bemoaning the lack of a great rally to fill in the sociable evenings of blazing June.

For this year the club were still conscious of public attitudes in Scotland, which tend to be slightly more conservative than those of South Eastern England. The usual Wednesday morning selection of special stages was dropped, trimming the Scottish Rally back to a 1,000-mile, 44-stage event that covered 8 a.m. Sunday to 5 p.m. Tuesday with some very tough stage miles indeed. On the first of June Sunday at 8 a.m., Roger Clark/Jim Porter took their red and white new-style Escort 2-litre RS1800 away from the Blytheswood Square starting ramp, heading for their sixth Scottish Rally victory against some exceptionally strong opposition. Perhaps too strong, for the Stratos V6 of Per Inge Walfridsson/John Jensen blew the starting ramp boards from beneath its fleet feet as it mounted the rostrum, leaving mundane vehicles to begin the event from the tarmac.

Opposing Clark’s 16-valve, 238-b.h.p. Brian Hart BDA-engined Escort, were four 16-valve Vauxhalls of 2.3-litres and 400 lb. extra weight to the Fords, the singleton BL 16-valve Dolomite for Brian Culcheth, Colin Malkin’s 1,600-c.c. BRM-Chrysler Avenger (also 16 valves) and the fabulous Chequered Flag Stratos of Walfridsson, the latter a car that has already consumed three of Mr. Ferrari’s shrieking Dino motors.

Clark was fastest over the first official stage—the first stage being omitted after a clock was faulty at the finish—but Walfridsson took the quickest times over the next four stages, to pull out a half-minute lead. Unfortunately the Lancia had sustained a damaged gearbox casing shortly after leaving the first major rest halt at Dumfries on Sunday afternoon. The quick Italian car was soon retired when the casing released all its fluid on a special stage during the afternoon, leaving the Fords to trample the shredded pride of the opposition.

Initially, after the Lancia, Tony Pond/ Mike Broad were able to split Clark/Porter from Timo Makinen’s Ford and a strong recovery from Russell Brookes/John Brown which eventually put that crew into second place at the finish, ahead of Billy Coleman/Donal O’Sullivan, to complete a Ford 1-2-3.

Pond occupied the best placed non-Ford finish by slotting his Ascona neatly into fourth place, nearly a minute ahead of RAC Rally winner Timo Makinen in the fourth and final works-constructed new-style Escort. Timo, who had never done this event in a Ford before (but plenty remember his thundering style in a Healey 3000!) was troubled badly by the new mechanically-operated rear handbrake system of Porsche parentage but eventually became more settled, finishing fifth and looking forward to a hat-trick on the RAC this winter!—J.W.