Rally Review, November 1966






1st: T. Makkinen/P. Easter (1275 Cooper S) 3,253.2 penalties
2nd: L. Cella/ L. Lombardini (Lancia Fulvia) 3,397.0 “
3rd: L. Nasenius/F. Sager (Opel Reckord 1700) 3,446.0 “
4th: A. Cavallari/D. Salvay (Alfa Romeo GTA) 3,466.6 “
5th: W. Gass/G. Frey (Porsche 911) 3,528.2 “

ALTHOUGH rallies organised by more than one club are prone to disorganisation, as indeed the 1965 Three Cities rally was, the 1966 Munich-Vienna-Budapest proved quite Acceptable. Rauno Atthonen won it in ’65 on his way to vainqueur so Makinen’s outright win may well be a good omen for his bid to overhaul current leader Zasada, but more about that later!

Entries on rallies run through Austria or on which the O.A.M.T.C. have taken some organising part seem to be most unpredictable; the Austrian Alpine had both quality and quantity while the Casrol-Danube Rumanian event held only some three weeks previously attracted only 27, yet at 104 the Three Cities had the fifth largest entry list of the year! Of these B.M.C. as usual fielded a team of three Group 2 Cooper Ss; 1275s for Timo Makinen/Paul Easter and Tony Fall/Henry Liddon, while Bob Freeborough, the Towcester milkman, had works support for his 970, his co-driver being Chris Nash. The only other entry from England was the Cortina GT of Denis Thorne and John Davenport, Fords themselves not participating. Other well-known or point-chasing people there included the “clockwork mouse” 650 TR Steyr-Puch of Zasada; Pat Moss-Carlsson and Liz Nystrom in the Saab trying for the Ladies’ Championship which Rootes girl Rosemary Smith is leading; the Lancia Fulvia of Cella/Lombardini; the Alfa GTA of Cavallari/Salvay; and several B.M.W. 1800TIs, including the Austrian rally champion Pilhatsch’s, all of which seemed to have a “works” air about them, especially as Competition Manager Walter Shulter was in attendance.

As before, the start took place under the draughty Munchen railway arches to the background accompaniment of Oktoberfest sounds from the annual Beer Festival held by the famous “pils” brewers of that town. The road sections in Germany have to be processional by strict order of the authorities so the first night up to the Czech border was enlivened only by two stages. Makinen in setting his furious pace was fastest on the first but conceded to Cella on the second evidently because he hadn’t been able to practise!

Maybe as a result of the boring road sections some people got too enthusiastic on the stages, Zasada being one of the first to retire when an excursion damaged his differential. The young Belgian, Gilbert Staepelaere, lost his chance of winning Group 1 through shunting his Lotus-Cortina and the Jolly Club Organiser, Angiolini, rolled his Lands Fulvia. Tony Fall retired with a seized engine lust before the second test.

Surprisingly the Austrian sections proved to be the most interesting, with fairly complicated navigation being called for over plenty of narrow, twisty, dirt roads. How the Austrian police allowed this after previous purges no one really knows but the O.A.M.T.C. seem confident of having the same freedom for next year. Makinen was fastest on all four tests on Austrian soil and as three were loose surfaced the usual Mini-mixture of SP44s Or R7 racers was called for. With the corning of Friday night the navigation again got difficult as the rally crossed into Hungary, and here “Liege”-style motoring took place over humpy roads at higher averages with the additional hazards of donkey carts and level crossings thrown in for good measure. The flying Finn secured victory by being quickest over the rough tarmac test near Pecs; and so to Budapest, from where he was rushed to Finland via Vienna in order to compete in Championship races, and we gather the effort was worth while for he has taken both the 1,150 and 1.300 c.c. Finnish National Championship classes.

Groups 1 and 2 only counted for the E.R.C. Nasenius’ Opel Rekord took a Group 1 win from Staepelaere’s Lotus, Cella scored some points in Group 2 (he’s beecn running Group 3 Lancias up to now) and Willi Gass took Group 3 in his works Porsche 911. Another 911-mounted person was Walter Poltinger, the winner of the Castrol-Danube, although that was in his own trustworthy VW. Pat Moss took the Ladies’ Prize, Opel took the Manufacturers Team prize (Nasenius, Hendrikson, Lambart). and Swedes took the National Team with Nasenius; Moss and Hendrikson. There were no protests, some slow scrutineering but the results were out very promptly, a very pleasing improvement on last year.

Having mentioned the Castrol-Danube Rally it is also fitting to mention that for 1967 it will have European Rally Championship status, which is why Tony Fall went this year in a Vita-Foam sponsored car. He was co-driven by the Reverend Rupert Jones. Apart from navigational difficulties encountered because they hadn’t been able to carry out a full recce of the 4,500-km. route, the lone British crew retired through lack of tyres, the service car being nowhere to he seen. Another change is that its name will most probably be altered to the Danube Rally in keeping with general practice, although it is hoped the support of Castrol will be retained.

There are exactly 100 international class rallies in the F.I.A, calendar for 1967, interestingly 27 of these will be held over French soil (or should I say Alpine rock) and 17 will carry Championship status. Since there were 14 this year the other additions beside the Danube are the Stuttgart-Solitude/Lyons-Charbonnieres, West German instead of French as this year; the R.A.C.E. Rally in Spain and the Rallye Pneumatique in East Germany. The one deletion is the West German Nord-Rhein Westfalen event.

There is a possibility being considered by the F.I.A. at the time of writing that only a dozen or so of these events will actually count for the European Rally Championship, while the one certain thing is that this year’s ridiculous position of having a separate champion for each of the three Groups will he abolished and there will be two champions, a Series Production Touring Car Champion or Group 2 (Groups 1 and 2 merged in effect) arid a Grand Touring or Group 3 Champion.

For diary-minded rally-followers the dates are as follows: January 13/21, Monte Carlo; February 8/13, Swedish; February 22/26, Italian Flowers; March 9/12, West German; March 39/31, Spanish; April 7/9, East German: April 24/29, Tulip; May 10/14, Austrian Alpine; May 25./28, Acropolis; June 15/18, Geneva; July 6/9, Czech; August 2/5„ Polish; August 18/20, 1,000 Lakes; September 4/9, French Alpine; September 18/21, Danube; October 6/8, Hungarian; November 18/24, R.A.C.

So much for next year, but what has happened this year? On October 12 the E.T.A. held a meeting to decide the outcome of the Monte and Acropolis appeals. For the Monte appeal Dean Delamont, of the R.A.C., had B.M.C. Comps prepare a Mini with the exact replica lighting system of the Monte Coopers. John Gott, as Vice-Chairman of the Competitions Committee, presented the case and of course Stuart Turner was in attendance. The outcome was that the E.T.A. threw out both appeals on grounds which will only he published on November 18. Anyway the results of the European Rally Championship can now be worked out with a little more certainty.

So, our tame computer has been doing some severe head scratching and arrives at the following conclusions. Firstly in Group 1 the Swedish Opel Rekord driver Lillebror Nasenius leads having scored 16 points (9 for Group win plus 7 for class win) on the Swedish Rally, 9 points from his group win on the 1,000 Lakes, but no class points because with so few entries in Group 1 all the classes were amalgamated and put into Group 7; and of course his Group 1 win on the Three Cities. However, he scores no class points yet again for there were fewer than 10 starters in his class, yet Gilbert Staepelaere scores 6 points for second place in Group 1 and 7 points for winning the 1,600 class. Anyway the totals show Nasenius with 34. Staepelaere with 29 and then several people on 16, including Makinen (Tulip), Toivonen (Monte) and Zasada (Czech). It most be remembered that Co-drivers score the same number of points as drivers—but Nasenius changed his! The R.A,C. in makes no difference to these positions as it counts for Groups 2 and 3 only, So with respect to the official confirmatiop of the F.I.A. we can take Group 1 as settled.

However, Group 2 is a far different matter. Here Makinen with points from the Acropolis, Polish, 1,000 Lakes and now the Three Cities, has moved up to challenge that quiet point-gatherer, Zasada, who has scored on the Flowers, Tulip, Acropolis. German and Polish; the varied class wins giving him 50 points while Timo has 47. It is unlikely at the time of writing that Zasada will come to the R.A.C. so Makinen must score at least a second in class (5 points for there are certain to be 10 1275s entered) to ascertain victory. There’s a nigger in the woodpile though in the form of Volvo Amazon-mounted Tom Traria who most certainly is coming, and by outright victory could add to his 34 points to equal Zasada. Therefore Timo is the only one who can overhaul the Polish rallyist. B.M.C. do stress though that they are not competing with the European Championship in view this year because of the peculiar tri-cornered effect, so the mighty Makinen will be out to win – “flat” as usual.

Group 3 is much more simple, for the young Porsche driver, Gunther Klass, has already established a clear lead with three outright Group wins on the Monte, German and Alpine, a second on the Flowers, and third on the Geneva. so putting his 72 points well out of the reach of Lancia Fulvia driver Ove Andersson, who has 31 points.

The current reigning Rally Champion, Rauno Aaltonen, is in Australia at the moment with Paddy Hopkirk on the same trip that Timo and Paddy Hopkirk undertook last year. Rauno has been winning at racing down under, but retired on the Rothman’s sponsored Starlight Rally. Paddy managed 10th place despite tyre troubles on this event which he describes as “one long glorious slide” since it uses 95% loose surfaced roads.

The R,A.C. should prove interesting then from the aspect of the E.R.C. as well as seeing the “boys” in action. So far (this is being written ten days before final entries close) response has been slow at 60-odd in, but as usual the last morning’s post produces the biggest rush. This year’s event is said to be even tougher than before, with 65 stages (10 more than last year), another circuit (Silverstone) and two goes at Oulton Park. Most of the top-class people will be there from Sweden, and one interesting factor to watch is if the more powerfill V4 Saabs will be able to regain the superiority of the forests that they once enjoyed; however 140 plus b.h.p. Volvos and the incredible Minis are hard to suppress let alone the Ford Lotus-Cortinas. Much publicity has been made of the fact that Jirn Clark will be thriving a Lotus with Brian Melia, while for B.M.C. Graham Hill will share a Sunday Times Cooper S with Maxwell Boyd. The Sun is sponsoring the rally this year and no doubt much publicity will be given to the route and the times of passage of the competitors. They are certainly a spectacle worth going to watch.

B.M.C. have sprung a surprise in that Simo Lampinen will be in a Cooper S together with Tony Ambrose. No prizes as yet for -guesses about next year’s B.M.C. team!

Not to be outdone by the F.I.A. having a European Rally Chanipionship, the R.A.C. have a World Rally Trophy, This is for manufacturers and is based on five rallies, the Swedish, East African Safari, Shell 4,000, and the Liege (84 hours of the “Ring” now). Any ties are decided on the R.A.C. Rally and points are obtained by make of car finishing, whether it’s private or works or which model. Fords win with 39 pts; Saabs second (22 pts.); last year’s winners, Volvo, third with 17 pts.; Peugeot and B.M.C. 12 pts. (Peugeot’s win on the Safari and BM.( C.’s M.G.-B win at the “Ring” in the Liege Race-Rally); then Tatra 9 pts., B.M.W. 7 pts., Chrysler 3 pts, and Chevrolet, Datsun and Opel all with 1 pt.

Talking of championships our own R.A.C. Rally Championship which includes four National rallies, Shunpiker, Express and Star, Vales and Bournemouth, and five Internationals, Circuit of Ireland. Scottish, Gulf London, Welsh and the R.A.C. as qualifiers, is at the moment being led by South Wales garage proprietor Malcolm Gibbs using a Willment Sprint Cortina GT. Both Roy Fidler and Tony Fall are one point behind at 18. So the R.A.C. and the Welsh on the second weekend in December will help decide this contest. Methinks that the Welsh is young Gibbs’ only hope for both works Triumph 2000-mounied Fidler and B.M.C. man Fall are likely to do better on the R.A.C. To score at all one must finish in the first five! We’ll wait and see.