Tragedy in the Ivory Coast

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Soon after 1am on September 23, rallying lost two of its stalwarts when the Cessna 340 aircraft chartered by Toyota Team Europe for use as a radio relay station during the Ivory Coast Rally crashed into dense tropical forest about a minute after take off from Yamoussoukro Airport.

On board were the two pilots and two Toyota staff, Henry Liddon and Nigel Harris. All were killed instantly when the aircraft exploded in flames on impact. The cause of the accident has not been established.

Henry Liddon, the team’s manager, was engaged in his usual job of directing operations from the air by radio, whilst Nigel Harris, taken on by the team to navigate the smaller aircraft used in the daytime to warn drivers of obstructions, had asked to accompany Henry to see how the job was done.

For the past ten years Henry has been associated with Toyota, firstly as Ove Andersson’s co-driver and then as his organisational right-hand-man when TTE was established. But most of his rallying exploits have been in the co-driver’s seat, alongside a number of the world’s leading drivers, including Hopkirk, Aaltonen, Makinen, Fall, Nicolas and Andersson, in cars as varied as BMC Minis, big Healeys, Fords, Peugeots and Lancias.

His successes are so numerous that we cannot possibly list them, but they do include a hat-trick of RAC Rally wins, and memorable victories on the Monte Carlo Rally, the Circuit of Ireland, the Thousand Lakes, the Austrian Alpine, the Tulip and the Bandama, forerunner of the rally on which he was to tragically killed.

In rallying circles, Henry was an institution; studious in appearance, sharp of wit, an avid reader of British newspapers wherever he could get them around the world and generally enthusiastic. Indeed he rarely had a bad word to say about anything.

By comparison, Nigel Harris was a beginner, but he had most certainly made his mark on British rallying by accompanying Malcolm Wilson to a whole string of major victories. Overseas his forays had been few, but he had plans to increase lUs foreign participation. He had already finished tenth in the Thousand Lakes with Malcolm Wilson, and fourth in the Sanremo Rally (annulled later for homologation reasons).

We offer our sincere sympathies to the families and countless friends of two fine sportsmen who will be greatly missed.