CLEAN SWEEP FOR THE IRISH
This report by Eamonn Cotter is reproduced from Wheel Magazine November 1966
SATURDAY, October 29th was a great day for Irish motor sport, with Irish drivers winning every award in the BBC/TV, Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy Driving Tests, held at the Wrottesley Hall Country Club, near Wolverhampton. The Northern Ireland team won the Trophy for the sixth time, and Southern Ireland finished second overall, only 13.2 marks behind the Northerners, and well ahead of England in third place.
The North also took two class wins, Adrian Boyd and Robert Woodside coming out on top in their respective classes, while Galway-man Conor Linehan drove superbly to win his class and put up the Best Individual Performance.
Practice was held on the morning of the event, with each competitor getting a go at two or three tests. After lunch the event started punctually at 1.45p.m., when the event was put on “live” by BBC TV, with commentary by Raymond Baxter.
Test 1 included a controversial “Box”, in which cars had to do a 360 degree spin in both forward and reverse. The box was supposed to be 36’ square, but was only 34’ square for the actual event. Conor Linehan got down to business right away by returning FTD at 69.8 seconds, 1.3 seconds ahead of Ronnie McCartney, both in 1275 c.c. Mini-Cooper S types. Des Cullen (M.G. Midget) and Larry Mooney (VW) both ran into trouble here, so Northern Ireland went into an immediate lead as Woodside (VW) and Boyd (Sprite) were fastest in their classes.
- Northern Ireland, 223.4;
- England, 226.5;
- Southern Ireland, 237.0;
- Scotland, 275.6;
- Wales, 279.1;
- Belgium, 296.0.
Test 2 saw Northern Ireland still ahead of the South, but the gap had narrowed a lot between England and Ireland. Conor Linehan was again fastest in this test, with the other two classes again going to Messrs Boyd and Woodside.
- Northern Ireland, 167.4;
- Southern Ireland, 168.0;
- England, 178.2;
- Wales, 184.9;
- Scotland, 186.8;
- Belgium, 192.2.
The third test was a Larry Mooney benefit, the Dun Laoghaire-man dancing his VW around in 76.0 seconds to put up FTD. Des Cullen also won his class with 80.6 seconds, 1.2 seconds ahead of Adrian Boyd. Ronnie McCartney took the Mini class with a time of 76.8 seconds, beating Rodney Goodchild of England by 0.7 second. Linehan had the gearbox stick on this test but still got around in 78.8 seconds.
Ireland moved into 2nd place at this stage, as English Class 3 man, Tim Baker (Hillman Imp), incurred a maximum score, this being a penalty of 100 marks in all cases.
- Southern Ireland, 235.4;
- Northern Ireland, 235.8;
- Scotland, 254.0;
- Wales, 259.2;
- Belgium, 259.5.
- England, 263.0;
Test 4 was only driven by Classes 1 and 2 competitors, and again Conor Linehan was in tremendous form, setting another FTD with 40.8 seconds. This was 2.7 seconds faster than the next competitor, Rodney Goodchild, last Year’s Individual Award winner. Adrian Boyd was fastest in the Sports Car Class with 46.8 seconds, 2.2 seconds ahead of Des Cullen.
- Southern Ireland, 89.8;
- Northern Ireland, 91.0;
- Scotland, 92.8;
- England, 93.3;
- Wales, 97.9;
- Belgium, 108.1.
So, Northern Ireland emerged the winners once again. Adrian Boyd gave a very polished display to win Class 1, with 11 marks to spare over Denis Beare of England, with Des Cullen, a further 1 mark behind. Class 3 went to Robert Woodside, who finished 6 marks in front of Larry Mooney. The third member of the N.I. Team, Ronnie McCartney finished second in Class 2 to Conor Linehan by 4.4 seconds, who took the award for Best Individual Performance, as well as victory in Class 2.
FINAL TEAM RESULTS
- Northern Ireland, 717.0 marks;
- Southern Ireland, 730.2 marks;
- England, 761.0 marks;
- Scotland, 799.2 marks;
- Wales 821.1 marks;
- Belgium, 860.0 marks.
Best Individual Performance: Conor Linehan (Southern Ireland).
Class 1: Adrian Boyd (N.I.).
Class 2: Conor Linehan (Southern Ireland)
Class 3: Robert Woodside (N.I.)
To sum up, the TV Trial was won and lost on the very first test. But for dropping a disasterous 13.6 marks on that one test to the Northern team, the Ken Wharton Memorial Trophy could well have been won for the first time by the Southerners!