THE 1,000 Lakes proved to be even more exciting and competitive than was predicted last month,. though not exactly for the reasons suggested. There was indeed full works participation from more teams than have been seen on a European Championship rally for several months, but the essence of competition came from the skill of two drivers who, with fairly dissimilar ears, fought bitterly for the lead from start to finish. These two were Timo Makinen (1275 Cooper S) and Simo Lampinen (Saab V4), who outpaced the rest of the field over the twenty-odd special stages and finished the rally only eight and a half seconds apart, with the victory going to the Cooper driver. Many of the other drivers showed remarkable form but none could match the leading two. In the opening stages of this rather short rally, the two Swedish Porsche 9115 entered by Scania Vabis and driven by Ake Andersson and Bjorn WaIdegaard were their nearest challengers, but both left the road and only the latter finished. Best performer of the also-rans was Hamm Mikkola, who has not yet finished college but drives well enough in Finland to consider Miikinen as an equal on local events. The local Volvo agent entered a 122S for him to drive and was rewarded with a third place overall. It is surprising in view of their past glory that both B.M.C. and Volvo only entered one car -eachfor this rally, but then they did take two of the first three places in the results. Larnpinen’s was by far the fastest of the Saabs and, predictably, Carl Orrenius and Tom Trana in the other two works cars were fairly evenly matched until Trana dropped out with transmission failure. In fact he did have other slight bothers like a blown head gasket and a fan blade through the radiator, but it was the transmission that stopped him. In view of the large number of similar failures on the Saabs entered in the Gulf Rally, it is to be expected that Saabs are working hard on developing a new gearbox which can haridle the power that is available from the V4 engine. The problem they encounter is one of overheating in the gearbox, which
! only small but tightly enclosed by the bodywork with little act., for cooling air. On fairly short stages as in the t,000 Lakes. Lampinen said that there was not too much of a problem if things were allowed to settle down between stages, but On a rally like the Gulf or the R.A.C. this is a real problem.
The Renault Gordinis entered by Swedish Renault for the French team went well and those driven by I3erndt jansson and Harry Kallstrom both finished in the first ten. but these ears, despite their exotic specification, never seem to fulfil their promise. Considering that in Group a they have 5-speed gearboxes, four disc brakes ofmore than generous size, all-independent suspension and an engine which has lots of revs and lots of power, the Gordinis have not been allconquering by any means and in their class they have been singularly unsuccessful—the Rally of the Flowers is one exception—in getting to grips with the Cooper S and the Lancia Fulvia. One -Gordini that did really show promise on the ti000 Lakes was that loaned to Jorma Lusenius. He normally drives Cooper Ss for the B.M.C. dealership but in his first drive with a rear-engined car he Was right with the leaders until a groaning rear suspension slowed him in the latter half of the rally.
Most successful of the factories was Ford, whose Swedish branch entered two Lotus-Cortinas for Ilehgt .Soderstrem and Ove Andersson to drive. Though he had the fuel-injection model, Soderstrom was unable to prevent Andersson passing him on the last night when there was some patchy fog to take fourth place and finish as the best placed Swedish driver. The most astounding driver is still Ove Eriksson, whose performance in a Group 2 Opel Rekord netted him sixth place behind Soderstrom and ahead Of Pauli Toivonen in the lone works Laneia Fulvia. The news that B.P. is to withdraw its support of motor racing and rallying at the end of this year is sad indeed. The days when they were represented by Erik Carlsson and the Saab team, Ilans Walter and the Porsche team and Eugen Bohringer and the Mercedes team are not so far distant, and the benefit that the sport derived from their support will not he easily forgotten. What will happen to the Saab team next year is anyone’s guess hut in their statement, B.P. did make it clear that
firms such as B.P. Sweden would still be free to organise their own racing programme if they felt the need was great enough. It would be a shame if Team Bee Pee were to die altogether.
Well, the Coupe des Alpes showed that experience is no hindrance when it comes to winning an arduous European Championship event. The total number of years’ experience that Paddy Hopkirk and Ron Crellin can call on can be bettered by few crews, despite Crellin’s claim that he is still a raw newcomer. Already he has been co-driving with Hopkirk for nearly two years, in which they have—for all practical purposes except the payment of bonus money—won the Acropolis twice as well as winning the Austrian Alpine last year and the Coupe des Aloes this year.
For B.M.C. this victory came as a bit of a surprise for whereas in Finland, where they only started with one factory car, they might confidently hope for a result if the car lasted, in the °Moe des Alpes the prospect was much more grim. Renault had engaged two very fast twin-cam i,fioo-c.c. Alpines plus a normal t,too-c.c. Group 3 Alpine, and backed this up with four R8 Gordinis all in Group 6 and with engines of varying capacities. Porsche had a plastic 91t with a Carrera 6 engine plus 1550 Group 3-911Ss, while the French Alfa Romeo distributor was attending to two Group 5 GTAs and two Group 2 GTAs. All these ears had top line drivers ranging through Larrousse, Vinatier and Kallstrom (Renault), Elford and Zasada (Porsche), and Rolland and Greder (Alfa). Against these much more powerful cars, even a I2o-b.h.p. Cooper S running much lightened in Group 6 does not present a favourable bet for outright victory, and though B.M.C. had three such cars for Makinen, Hopkirk and Aaltonen, they probably felt much more certain that their entry of T my Fall in Group 2 was likely to net them more in the way of results.
As it was, Fall was the first to retire, followed by Aaltonen. They were soon joined by all the Porsches, all the Alpines and the fastest of the Alfa Romeos. Of the surviving works Cooper Ss, Makinen’s was the best and made all the running. By driving the car as only Makinen knows how, he held third or second place for most or the rally, with only the two Alpines proving fleet enough to stay ahead of him. However, his style could hest be described as brinkmanship in that the car is being punished very hard indeed—especially the brakes—and it is a gamble that nothing will break on a hill-climb or a selective. Makinen was denied the honour of having led the Mlle even for a couple or hours for, although he outlasted both Alpine before his gearbox broke, an earlier failure of a throttle cable on a test had dropped him down the field. Full marks for trying and a performance worthy of the man who is generally considered to be the latest rally driver around.
The Porsche drivers felt at the start that this rally had almost been designed for them as with a tough fast car they felt that they could outlast the Renaults and outdrive the Alfas. As it was they did neither, tor Vic Elford lost a certain first place by having two punctures on selectives in the first night while most of the other Porsches succumbed quite quickly to broken drive shafts and other transmission failures. Perhaps the universal .adoption ()I meing tyres plus the dry weather was responsible in part for this Teutonic failure, and it was interesting to see that the Alfa Romeos, which are notoriously fragile au .derriere, were using Kleber Colombo VIO radials in an attempt to reduce the .strain on the drive shafts and differential. A few years ago 13.M.C. were the only team to use racing tyres regularly for rallying and it is my personal contention that though they are much harder on the transmission and suspension, the adoption of Dunlop racing. tyres by the B.M.C. team was largely responsible for their supremacy in the last two seasons. For example, in Greece where until this year only B.M.C. had dreamed of’ using racing tyres, the Ford people could never understand how a it 2-b.h.p. Cooper S could possibly beat a 148-b.h.p. Lotus Cortina on a dry tarmac stage Even when the same happened on the Tulip Rally the coin was a long time leaving the slot, and it wasn’t until the Coupe des Aloes this year when Tony Chappell’s works-supported Lotus Cortina arrived with Goodyear racers and LeoBertorclh’s private Lotus Cortina with Dunlop racers that I have seen a Ford on such tyres for rallying. Other teams have also followed suit and Lancia, Porsche and Routes are now full-time users .of Dunlop racers. . The final aspect of the Coupe des Alpes which I Want to consider is the acceptance in the entry of all cars from Group t to Group 6. As a competitor I must admit immediately that the faster the car is capable of going the more I shall enjoy rallying in it, and the thought of regularly rallying in a Group i car drives me to think of taking up croquet seriously. However, if rallying is to have any point whatsoever
it must achieve two things : it must show the public by way of the results which manufacturer has the best production car for sale, and it must enable the manufacturer to develop his product and rectify faults discovered in competition. Now if we stick quite rigidly to Group i (untouched, virgin automobiles lifted from the showroom) we shall never get anYwhere on the second point in view of the time it takes to get new things put on the production line and then the hornolagation form. Jr is true that Group i competition illumines the first requirement with a brilliant white light to which at present 011Iy the Opel branch of G.M. has been keen enough to expose its products. That brings us to Group 2, which leaves adequate room for trying out improvements to all aspects of the car as well as making the cars interesting to drive. At the same time, the rules are strict enough to prevent the car becoming a:mechanical hoodwink and the consumer can say with some justification in the manner of the advertisements ” My car wan the Monte Carlo Rally.” Sw.•1-1 a remark would have little justification if a Group 5 car had won the rally. I can see little or no reason for having this third branch of the touring car category, which would appear to be a sop thrown out by the F.I.A. to the big manufacturers. If you have a touring car for racing or rallying, then in the
public’s eye it is either dead standard or it is tuned, and it ts toblish to expect their comprehensionto go beyond this simple division.
As for Group 6, the same argument applies but even more strongly for this is the category of glass-fibre panels, stripped interiors and full racing engines. The R.A.C. Rally organisers have said in their regulations that they have allowed Groups 5 and 6 to compete in their rally on scratch this year to enable manufacturers to test experimental work over severe conditions. What one learns from fitting a glass-fibre boot to a Mini and then doing the R.A.C. Rally in it is surely of little interest to anyone. We have to face the fact that any rally organiser who throw his rally open to all these six categories is making his results worthless to the general public.
If the purpose of allowing Group 6 cars to run in these rallies is to prove experimental work, then let them run in a separate category as far as the final results are concerned. The manufacturers can then see how they compare with the standard cars and the whole purpose of the exercise will be fulfilled without hoodwinking the general public, who probably think at this minute that they can nip round the earner, buy a Cooper S just like Hopkirk’s Coupe des Aloes-winning car, and proceed to duff up every Alfa, Porsche and Renault in sight.—.1.13. F. D.
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