Polish Rally

General Classification

1st: T. Fall/A. Krauklis (B.M.C. Cooper S) 5,028.07 points
2nd: T. Makinen/P, Easter (B.M.C. Cooper S) 5,102.46 “
3rd: S. Zasada/Mrs. E. Zasada (Steyr-Puch 650TR) 5,140.95 “
4th: R. Clark/B. Melia (Ford Lotus Cortina) 5,702.00 “

ORGANISERS! We are always’ or so it seems, complaining about the poor organisers. I think that one should sometimes take into consideration the fact that international rallying is a very full-time professional and costly operation, and one should also remember that basically the hard core of rally organisers are amateurs in the strictest sense of the word, i.e., non-salaried—although they may well have their expenses paid. Also of course there is the anomaly that it is impossible to have full-time professional rally organisers for each country because there is usually only one major rally a year for them to organise. The same goes for marshals although of course on a different scale.

For this reason the organisers of the Polish Rally should be both commended and condemned; the latter word is rather strong perhaps but one felt that much more on the lines of information providing could have been done. Directions as to what to do, or what was going on were confusing and usually only in Polish. Some people there spoke German, a few spoke French and none English. Instructions could be obtained in both German and French upon request, but generally the atmosphere tended to be one of “find out for yourself.” .

Enough of criticisms for the moment. The rally itself was excellent although the organisers didn’t achieve their dream of only one car coming to the finish. It is the finish and the results where the organisers are to be commended. The crew which finished in second place, Timo Makinen and Paul Easter did so because of a wrong time given to them on the last of the twenty-two special stages. The crew did not place an official query within the time allotted, as provided for in the regulations, instead they only pointed the false time out to a proper organising official after the results had been made final. Sticking strictly to the letter of the regulations the organisers very apologetically stated that there was nothing they could do once the query time of one hour after posting provisional results was up. So, Makinen had to be content with finishing second to team mates Tony Fall and Atis Krauklis. Quite a difference from the Acropolis where the organisers took it upon themselves to set about altering the results!

One thing about the closeness of the result between the first three crews is that it shows how effectively the handicap system operated. This was made up in two different ways. Firstly, there was an allowance between cars under and over 1,000 c.c. and it took the form of a 5% time difference on some of the tighter road sections. It was very useful as Fall and Zasada soon noticed. Fall lost two minutes in total on the road, Makinen dropped three, of which one was due to a police officer directing them the wrong way, while Zasada lost four, two of which were due to his windscreen wipers packing-up at one point. Roger Clark suffered the indignity of losing 16 minutes, some through having to stop for fuel on a tight section and some more through an obstinate level-crossing keeper way out in the lonely wilds. Rauno Aaltonen, in the third works Mini, retired in the middle of these tough sections when his differential broke.

Also, the thing worth remembering about the road penalties was that they were at the rate of 60 marks per minute, while for the special stages, races and hill-climbs, the organisers had taken a direct copy of the age-old Monte formula which is based on cubic capacity, and this worked out to roughly 20 marks per minute.

The coefficient factor worked out so that Roger Clarke had to go 0.8% quicker than Timo Makinen or Rauno Aaltonen, and it’s bad enough having to beat them on scratch, let alone having to be nearly 1% quicker. Clark also had to be 2.5% quicker than the 970S and 5.6% quicker than the “clockwork mouse” of Sobieslaw Zasada, who, incidentally, carries on all his rallying in Poland with his wife, Ewa. Returning to the coefficient, one feels that with a Makinen in any of the above-mentioned vehicles the handicap would have been quite fair, and in view of the above result it is rather ironic that when the engine was first built and being tested, Timo had tried it and had said that he would be happy to take it.

Having looked at the marking system, let us see how it came into effect on the rally. After some 24 hours of main road sections which although not terribly difficult could not be treated lightheartedly, the crews faced a night of rough tough twisty road sections and stages over the most difficult part of Poland, the hilly area around Kudowa in the south west corner. 135 kms. in 90 minutes was the first one, a 90 k.p.h. average, 84 k.p.h. for the next section, and so on.

Rain, the feared element on the already slippery cobble roads, came in abundance and caused much of the time-losing and retiring on this rough, tough, night-long thrash.

The return to Krakow was another part of the wearing-out process and in fact only 11 of the 52 starters finished. No team finished intact, although three Skoda 1000 MBs and three Cooper Ss arrived home.