TAP Rally

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General classification
1st:S. Lampinen/J. Davenport (1.6 Fulvia) ………………7,009

2nd:S. Munari/A. Bernacchini (1.6 Fulvia) ……………… 7,486

3rd:B. Waldegard/H. Thorszelius (Porsche 911S) ……. 7,920

4th:J. Lamprreia/C. Melville (Datsun 160SSS) ………… 8,786

5th:F. Romaozinho/C. Simoes (Citroen DS21) ………… 9,121

6th:A. Peixinho/J. Bandeira (Alfa Romeo) …………….. 10,021

7th:A. Nunes/F. Fonseca (Porsche 911S) ……………… 10,041

8th:G. Salvi/J. Arnaud (Porsche 911S) …………………. 10,052

9th:B. Chavan/R.Loyens (Datsun 160SSS) ……………. 10,140

10th:R. Fidler/B. Hughes (Escort TC) …………………… 10,160

134 starters – 22 finishers
Only other British finisher: J. Barter/D. Kirkham (Escort TC), 11,827, in 17th place

Portugals’ TAP Rally, sponsored by the country’s national airline, has snowballed in four years to become the major Portuguese event, and even a qualifier in the European Rally Championship for Drivers. It has always been tiring, difficult and endowed with a plentiful supply of road surfaces of all descriptions.

Two years ago Tony Fall won the event for Lancia. The following year he did likewise only to be disqualified when he allowed his wife into the car to escape the jostling crowds as he was waiting at the finish for his proper arrival time to come on the clock.

This year Lancia took revenge by getting their two Fulvias into first and second places. The winning car was driven by Simo Lampinen and John Davenport and the runner-up by Sandro Munari and Arnaldo Bernacchini.

The TAP publicity network ensures that the word of the rally is spread well around Europe and the result is a plentiful number from the 12 starting points in various European capitals. Although the TAP Rally is such that a thorough reconnaissance is vital for a chance of success, private entrants do not have the time for such exercises. Consequently the factory teams started from Lisbon whilst the privateers chose the nearest starting point to their homes. The British start was at Crystal Palace, 11 cars starting from there.

Ford sent a solitary Escort for Roger Clark and Jim Porter, the car having a 1.8-litre 16-valve engine producing in excess of 200 b.h.p. Early in the event it retired after a sudden power loss was put down to a broken valve.

Tony Fall and Henry Liddon, two professionals who were going it alone having found their own sponsors, were right up with the leaders for most of the event, but on the last night (whilst in second place) their Escort TC succumbed to broken rear springs. Both of them fractured at their forward shackles. When the rally was over the same occurred to one rear spring on the Escort of privateers Roy Fidler and Barry Hughes. They finished tenth overall, the highest placed Britishers, and the broken spring only prevented them taking part in the final slalom which was only laid on as a public show anyway.

Bjorn Waldegard, winner of the last two Monte Carlo Rallies, brought a perfectly standard Porsche 911S, but suffered considerably from navigation errors as he and Hans Thorszelius had not made a complete recce.

The events of 1970, with only 22 cars finishing, have done nothing to detract from the TAP Rally’s reputation for toughness. But the organisation needs to be slicker in some respects, particularly with regard to production of results. Thirty hours between finish and posting of results is too long.