Around and About
Leyland Return to Competitions
LEYLAND CARS (“please forget the ‘British’ bit now”) have returned to competitions officially with a three-tier programme encompassing rallying, national touring-car racing and a saloon-car formula.
EXCITING news for the rally world is that Leyland ST, the Abingdon-based com petitions and performance parts department, has hired Britain’s most promising young rally driver, Tony Pond, to drive one of a pair of Group 4, 16-valve Dolomite Sprint-engined TR7s in next season’s RAC National Charn
pionship and all British Internationals. Twenty-seven-year-old Pond, a star in Escorts and Opels, will have as his team-mate, and Captain, Brian CuIcherh, a member of the old BMC and British Leyland rally teams and runner-up, with a 2.5 PI, in the 1970 World Cup Rally. Cu’cheat’s brief since the Abing don Competitions Department closed in 1970 has been a somewhat thin programme of
rallying with Marinas and Dolomite Sprints and a post of resident development driver for British Leyland. Already a best-seller in the USA, the TR7 won’t be on sale in Europe until next spring, but Leyland Cars’ rally programme with the cars will commence as soon as the model is homologated at the end of the year, too late, unfortunately, for the RAC Rally. Obviously, the TR7 will be available eventually, but not necessarily initially, on the European market, With the 2-litre Sprint engine as one of the options to the eight-valve Dolomite unit. As such it should have tremendous potential as
an outright winner in British events, and with the brilliant Pond’s style suiting live rearaxle cars, Leyland cars could at last have .found the elusive answer to the unbeatable Roger Clark/Escort combination.
Backing-up the TR7 outright victory contenders will be the class-winning-potential outfit of Pat Ryan in either Marina or Allegro 13003. A patriotic new Leyland Cars livery of a White base with red and blue stripes will adorn
all the cars, which will be free of sponsors and decals. Support facilities will include two Leyland Sherpa vans and a Range-Rover. Activities will be based on Leyland ST at Abingdon with Bill Price as overseer.
ALL Leyland cars’ racing effort will be channelled into the 10-round British Touring Car Championship through the South= Workshops of Broadspeed. Ralph Broad’s brief is to go for outright victory in races and the new 3-litre limit Championship with a Pair of Dolomite Sprints. Like the rally cars, the racers will be decked in the new Corporate livery and raced under the Leyland Cars entrants’ licence. There is no intention of racing the cars in the European series, though we wouldn’t be surprised to sec the Spa 24
Our European Touring Car Championship round tackled on a one-off basis.
Drivers have yet to be announced as we go to Press. Our guess is that the pairing will certainly include Andy Rouse, who clinched the British Touring Car Championship at the Motor Show 200 meeting, but the big question mark currently is who will win the battle for the services of Stuart Graham, Leyland Cass or Ford ? Graham is known to have had talks with both teams and was enjoying a “talking” lunch with Ford’s Stuart Turner on Motor Show Press Day while British Leyland’s Competitions Liaison Officer Simon Pearson was doing ‘his duty at the annual Leyland Press lunch.
The Mini Challenge
NO FEWER than 54 separate races make up the Mini Challenge which will hopefully enliven Club racing next* season. There will be three separate series, each of 13 rounds, one for Mini 850s, another for Mini 1000s and the third for Mini 1275 G’I’s, all counting on a points basis for the overall Championship. A brand-new 1275 GT and an ostentatious trophy will await the fortunate overall victor. Both the smaller categories will be run to the existing Mini 7 and Mini Miglia formulae run for several years by the Mini 7 Club, who’ll be administering the series in association with Leyland. The only difference will be a tightening up on bodywork regulations to ensure tidiness befitting a manufacturer-backed
Championship. The 1275 GT formula is brand new, basically for Group Hi cars. Modified camshafts and carburetters will be allowed, ensuring an optimum 95 b.h.p., which should make for some pretty interesting cornering on standard wheels and road tyres.
“We’re very anxious that dealers and distributors should involve themselves with the Mini Challenge,” Simon Pearson told us. “We hope that they’ll contact their local Mini racing aces and offer backing for them to compete in the Challenge.”
Leyland’s Sales and Marketing Director Keith Hopkins declares that one of the prime purposes behind the Challenge is to pay back the loyal supporters who’ve continued to support Leyland through Mini racing over the last four or five years since the company curtailed its competition involvement.—C.R.
The Tourist Trophy
Silverstone, October Sib
CHESHIRE driver Stuart Graham won his second consecutive Access RAC Tourist Trophy driving a brand-new 5.7-litre Chevrolet Camaro he’d built specially for this round of the TropUe de l’Avenir. Including a motorcycle TT, it was Graham’s third Tourist Trophy win. Graham took the lead from Vince Wood
man’s similar Camaro on the second lap, never to be challenged again during a drive which was a model of precise consistency. At the flag the Brut 33-sponsored car was over a lap clear of the second-placed, Spa 24 Hourswinning, Luigi-BMW 3.0 CSi of Jean Xhenceval and Hughes de Fierlant, while John Handley took third with the Dealer Opel Team Opel Commodore GS/E. In practice Graham was a massive 3i
seconds quicker than anybody else. Only 36 cars started this 107-lap, 313.72-mile event from a promised entry of 45 and the crowd too was proportionately small. The non-arrival of the complete Auto-Delta team was a major disappointment. Some exciting dicing during the first hour fizzled into fairly processional tedium for the rest of the event, positions thereafter changing largely as a result of unreliability and pit-stops. Andy Rouse’s new, wide-arched, 235 b.h.p. Broadspeed Dolomite Sprint (shown in our colour section), second fastest in practice, challenged Woodman for second place in the early stages, lost third place to Richard Lloyd’s Camaro until Lloyd’s engine lost its oil pressure, then disappointingly fell way down the field after a coming-together with Woodman. It finally retired late in the race with a blown gearbox. After Rouse’s drop down the field there was a frantic dice for third place between Holman Blackburn’s
Herinetite Capri 3-litre and the Xhenceval BMW, decided in the BMW’s favour when Blackburn’s car disturbed its electrics in an airborn session over the Woodcote chicane. Behind, a wild battle for fifth place ensued between Barrie Williams’ Auto Extra BMW 3.0 CS, Brian Muir’s Dolomite Sprint, Alec Poole’s Tricentrol Escort RS2000 and Albrecht Krebs’ Opel Commodore. Williams hit the rear of Muir’s car when the BMW lost its brakes and Muir was eliminated later in a collision with Krebs. Xhenceval inherited second place for good during a Woodman pit stop and the latter dropped further back with clutch problems,
eventually retiring a few laps from the finish. A spell in fourth place for Tom Walkinshaw’s Hermetite Capri was curtailed by the same electrical trouble which had delayed him on the grid. Roger Bell’s 2-litre class-leading Dolomite Sprint took his place until the 16valve engine began to oil its plugs, rumoured to be the result of a politically-motivated change from Pirhanha electronic ignition to Lucas Opus. The quick, well-driven Poole/ Brennan Escort took over the class lead. The lead in the 1600 class changed from Win Percy’s Samuri Toyota Celica to the Brian Cutting/Patrick Cobb sister car when the former’s WIN I threw a rod. The adaptable Harald Ertl made an abrupt change from Fl to a modest-power racing saloon in another Cclica, which proved much slower than the Samuri car, but enabled Toyota to take the team award. Peter Hilliard/Leo Bertorelli took the 1,300 c.c. class with an Alfa Romeo Junior, while fourth place in the same class attracted sufficient points for Ugo Meloni and Roger Berntson (Fiat 128) to take the Trophie de r Avenir title. Results: ACCESS/RAC TOURIST TROPHY 107 laps-313.72 miles • Ist : S. Graham (5.7 Chevrolet Camaro) 3 hr. 12 mm. 38.83 sec.-97.71 m.p.h. 2nd: J. Xhenceval/H. de Fierlant (3.0 BMW CST) 106 laps 3rd: J. Handley (2.8 Opel Commodore GSE) 102 laps • 4th: A. Poole/T. Brennan (2.0 Ford Escort) 102 laps • 501: B. Cutting/W. Percy/P. Cobb (1.6 Toyota Celica G r) 101 laps
6th: J. Hine (3.0 Ford Capri) 100 laps ‘Class Winners.
A CHARACTER by the name of Ian Kennedy from Branksome Park, Poole, Dorset, was fined £500 at Bournemouth Crown Court last month for obtaining property by deception in a case which revolved around his sale of a “rebuilt 1935 Jaguar SS100” for £5,000. Subsequently the buyer discovered the car to be partly the remains of an SS saloon mounted upon a largely AC chassis. Prosecution witnesses in the case, which lasted over a week, included a Jaguar representative, a representative of the SS Register and Ruth Oldham from Oldham and Crowther, the Peterborough Jaguar specialists. Costs, estimated to be in the region of £11,000, were awarded against Kennedy, who now faces civil proceedings initiated by the car’s purchaser.
This was regarded as something of a test case by the police and lawyers. We hope it will serve as a salutary lesson to others who may be contemplating the passing-off of replicas as the real thing; as the more desirable older cars such as the SS100 and particularly D-types become more valuable, so the temptation for underhand practices increases. We urge all our readers to check most thoroughly the pedigree of any classic car they contemplate buying.
The End of the JCB Championship for Historic Cars
HISTORIC car racing for 1976 is threatened by the withdrawal of JCB Racing and Speed Merchants from the series which began as the JCB Championship five years ago. Bill Allen, of Speed Merchants, explains: “We’ve noticed that the very high standards we require are no longer quite being met. We need full grids of very reliable cars—we owe
it to the circuit owners, race organisers, sponsors and of course, the spectators. Our drivers are all amateurs, some wealthy and some not so wealthy. Many are feeling the pinch in these difficult days and it’s beginning to show in the races. We believe that it will be to everyone’s advantage if the historic scene, at this level, is given a rest for a season. The cars can recuperate and be fully prepared, the drivers will be keener than ever and we hope that the spectators and circuit owners will be looking forward to their return. I’m not saying that JCB themselves will come back, or even that Speed Merchants
will necessarily be involved, but there’ll be a great scene there for someone to promote and we’ll help them all we can.”
We feel sure that MOTOR SPORT readers will join with us in thanking Bill Allen and Anthony Bamford of JCB for their hard work and enthusiasm in creating and running this tremendously popular Championship. Thanks to them a new form of racing evolved which has provided spectators with exciting nostalgia and participants withenjoyment and an unparalleled opportunity to exercise their historic cars in the manner for which they were designed.—C.R.