1968 Scottish Rally

Roger Clark eased off after Orrenius' Saab retired, but it still looked pretty good to us. This is the same car in which he won the Circuit of Ireland.
Article reproduced from AUTOCAR Magazine – 20 June 1968


By Graham Robson

IT’S all getting very predictable, really!  Put Roger Clark in a works-prepared Ford Escort Twin-Cam on a rough rally and you can write the headlines in advance.  The Scottish International, which ended in Grantown last Thursday, was a repeat performance of the Circuit of Ireland, Tulip, and Acropolis rallies, though Calle Orrenius (Saab V4) made Roger work much harder than usual at first.  Orrenius led at half-way, but Clark pulled that vital few per cent of effort out of the bag to begin catching Orrenius on the third day.  Orrenius‘ Saab transmission let go on the 48th of 69 stages leaving the Ford with several minutes lead over any other car.  Lars Ytterbring put in his usual polished performance to take second overall in a works BMC Cooper S, but by far the most outstanding drive of the event was by Colin Malkin, in a works Sunbeam Rallye Imp for the very first time; only sheer ill-fortune and a bit of accidental baulking robbed him of second place in the rapid Weber-carburetted 998cc car.  Hot, dusty conditions led to wholesale breakdowns among works and private drivers alike, such that only 40 cars of the 102 entries finished, and Rootes did extremely well to win the team prizes with a factory and a private team.  For Roger Clark this was his fourth “Scottish” victory, and his fourth outright win this year in Escorts: the rest of 1968 could be as much of a walkover.

The works entries
Only eight of the 102 entrants were driving works cars, but these were expected to dominate the rally.  Much the most interesting were three-car teams from Saab and Rootes.  Team Sunbeam had committed their fortunes to 998cc engines with twin Weber carburettors and many special mods. raising the power output to a reliable 94 bhp.  This automatically
made the cars Group 6 Sports Prototypes (for which there was a class in the event) so the cars went the whole hog with lightweight panels in glassfibre, Perspex windows, front and rear radiators, and disc front brakes for the men – Rosemary Smith had to be satisfied with the servo-assisted drum brakes that Rootes have evolved in several seasons of rallying.  Scoops moulded into the body sides ducted air to the brakes and transmission, and the rear seats were removed to save weight.  Andrew Cowan and Rosemary Smith had newly prepared cars, while Colin Malkin got his first full works drive in the car re-built from Cowan’s Circuit of Ireland shunt.

All sideways but well in control is Colin Malkin in his Weber-carburetted Imp. This was his first Works drive and he took a strong third place overall.

Saab sent a trio of the now well-known Saab V4 saloons for Calla Orrenius, Simo Lampinen and Jerry Larsson to drive, though they were entered as Group 6 prototypes with Taunua V4 1700 engines which produced about 120 bhp. and vastly improved mid-range torque.  The transmission—once troublesome on the rally cars-—is now strengthened with a cast iron case.
BMC and Ford sent one car each. Roger Clark had the self-same Escort Twin-Cam with which he walked away with the Circuit of Ireland at Easter, still in Group 6 tune, but running exclusively on this occasion on the latest Goodyear Ultragrip Rally Special tyres. Lars Ytterbring had the single works Mini-Cooper S, actually the car used by Paddy Hopkirk on the Circuit: it was also running Group 6 with a Weber-carburetted engine, ultra-wide 5.5in. wheels and external oil cooler.

Several private Escort Twin-Cams were making their first appearances—driven by Jack Tordoff, Tony Chappell and Alan Allard.  These have now been homologated into Group 2 so for some unaccountable, but typically Scottish Rally reasoning, Tordoff’s entry was listed Group 3.

Glasgow start
The bulk of the rally is concentrated in the Southern Uplands and in the beautiful Highlands, but the start is traditionally from the RSAC headquarters in Blythswood Square, Glasgow, and the rally centre from Monday to Friday was in the welcoming little town of Grantown-on-Spey. There was only one over-night run (on the Sunday), but 43 of the total 69 stages would be completed before the rally even arrived in Grantown. Glorious sunny weather was to turn the whole rally into a hot, dusty, but competitive tour of beautiful Scotland. The start was at 8am and the first day’s stages were laid out in the hills and valleys to the South and South-East of Glasgow.

As usual the Scottish formula was simple. All but one of the 69 stages (totalling 400 miles) were to be run on Forestry Commission tracks, with average speeds set at 50 mph, and penalties of 1 mark per second “over bogey” up to a maximum for each stage: there was to be little time for dawdling between stages as there was a time control at the start of each: nevertheless, road penalties were very light indeed at only 1 mark per minute, sixty times less severe than time lost on a special stage. With generous sponsorship from Shell and support from Lombank, the RSAC could offer good financial reward for the quick men, so competition was fierce from the word go, and the incidents came thick and fast.

Roger Clark, Jim Porter and their very fast Escort Twin-Cam settled into the groove at once, making fastest time on the first two stages, but Jerry Larsson’s Saab was quickest on stage 3 and Andrew Cowan’s 94 bhp Imp quickest on stage 4. Cowan’s car broke its rear suspension on the next stage, then a rubber drive doughnut took ages to repair, but the Scot was nothing daunted, putting up fastest time on stage 6 and then inverted the car after hitting a rock on stage 7. Team mate Colin Malkin had hit the same rock but spun harmlessly and carried on after a bit of panel beating by the long-suffering Rootes service crews.

In the meantime. Tony Chappell had inverted his much fancied Escort Twin-Cam in Arecleoch Forest to become the first significant retirement. Cowan’s Imp was well-and truly lozenge-shaped after its roll with a broken windscreen and badly twisted suspensions, so a lot of work was needed at the roadside near Newton Stewart before the very battered little car sidled off to keep the Rootes team intact. All the Saabs started well. with Orrenius very consistent, and Larsson brilliant at times, but Lampinen’s car began to give all manner of troubles which were to culminate in a broken clutch during the coming night. At Dumfries on the Sunday evening, Clark’s Escort led Orrenius’ Saab by only 68sec after 15 stages, and several drivers were beginning to respect the new-found steam in the 1700 V4 Saab engines. Results service was none too good at this stage, and Clark may just have been pacing himself a little too leisurely. Jerry Larsson’s Saab was third at Dumfries and Colin Malkin’s Imp an excellent fourth just ahead of Ytterbring’s Cooper S.

The biggest problem in this year’s Scottish was dust. Here, Lars Ytterbring stirs up his share during the fight with Malkin’s Imp.

The private owners were also suffering. Paul Burch had had an engine fire in his Rallye Imp on the very first stage. Bob Bean’s old-model Cortina GT had suffered a loose regulator box followed by burnt-out wiring. and Keith Edwards’ Cortina-Lotus had smashed up its back axle. During the night, between Dumfries and the breakfast control at the edge of Loch Lomond in Balloch, 14 more special stages had to be tackled; mostly old favourites in the Newcastleton and Peebles areas. One crew that didn’t find out about night rallying was Nick Brittan and Hamish Cardno: Nick had been learning to drive the BMC Special Tuning Cooper S on rough roads during the day, found out by lunchtime, and had his first and final shunt in Cairn Edward during the afternoon. The bug has bitten, for Nick vows to try again!

At breakfast, many cars — particularly the later numbers — were missing, and many of the arrivals had damaged exhausts. Both Major Mike Bailey’s BMC 1800 (ex-factory car) and Bob Lamb’s new Escort GT were noisy, while even Roger Clark’s Escort Twin-Cam was battered about underneath. Loch Ard had been tackled just before breakfast, and was causing much talk during the halt. Faulty direction arrowing (widespread on this year’s Scottish) caused several illustrious crews to go off route, and Orrenius took a wider lead because of this. Simo Lampinen in another works Saab was suffering from a damaged clutch and a rocky starter switch. so—having gone wrong – he had to drive several miles before finding a wide enough clearing to tum round and return. Rosemary Smith was puzzled, but stopped to ask the way of spectators. Leading positions had not changed significantly, though Jerry Larsson’s Saab had dropped below Colin Malkin and Ytterbring after going off on two stages and losing his way in Loch Ard.

Alan Allard has been trying to nobble our photographer for years, and this time he almost managed it. He would finish 9th Overall.

Monday, like Sunday, promised to be hot and sunny, but the hard-worked drivers were faced with 14 more stages between Balloch an Grantown including a potted tour of Argyll and the Oban area. A couple of forests had to be cancelled because of unsuited roads. so first test of the morning was Rest and Be Thankful hill climb, cleaned only by Clark, Orrenius and Stuart Brown (BMC Cooper S). The morning proved fatal for Larsson’s fifth place Saab. which succumbed to a blown cylinder head gasket thought to be due to a warping head, but Saab hopes were high with Calle Orrenius having an inspired run all the way and Lampinen’s car restored to full vigour with no loss of time on the road. The pace was telling by now, with barely a dozen cars really rallying hard. Professional dedication and lots of factory service support is something many private owners would be very glad of these days, especially on a Scottish Rally that is renowned for being rough and tough!

Things were definitely “as normal” at the front, where Roger Clark was having to work really hard. Orrenius took a further 31sec lead during the Monday morning run, in a car that didn’t look or sound as quick as the Boreham flier. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday looked like being very interesting indeed. Colin Malkin was proving to be the revelation of the Rootes team, holding down third overall just ahead of Ytterbring’s works Cooper S in a car whose Weber-carburetted engine was having its first all-out rallying test. Rosemary Smith was driving as neatly and quickly as usual, being in sixth place behind Lampinen, but Andrew Cowan’s car was handling very badly after its roll: left-handers were fine but right-handers a definite adventure!

Rally Leaders on arrival at Grantown-on-Spay

1. Saab V4 1700 (C. Orrenius) 1,908
2. Ford Escort Twin Cam (R. Clark) 2,104
3. Sunbeam Rallye Imp (C. Malkin) 2,572
4. BMC Cooper-S (L. Ytterbring) 2,670
5. Saab V4 1700 (S. Lampinen) 3,277
6. Sunbeam Rallye Imp (Miss R. Smith) 3,364
7. Ford Escort Twin-Cam (J. Tordoff) 3,745
8. Hillmen Californian (A. MacRae) 3,790
9. Ford Cortina GT (D.S.F. Thompson) 3,850
10.BMC Cooper-S (M.Telford) 3,926
Teams: Sunbeam Rallye Imps (Miss R. Smith, A. Cowan and C. Malkin).

After a night’s rest in Grantown-on-Spey, 46 cars re-started. As usual there were to be three loops from the town, one each day, with the Eastern loop taken first this year. Stages such as Craigvinean. Blackcraig and Clashindarroch are all well known to Scottish and RAC competitors, and all helped to make this a particularly hard day. Roger Clark set out from Grantown to prove that his Escort Twin-Cam was indeed quicker than Orrenius’ Saab V4, and pulled back 47sec of the 201 sec gap in the first four stages.

Robin Eyre-Maunsell’s Works Imp looks very second-hand by the time the fourth day dawned.

Drumtochty settled the whole rally however when Orrenius’ Saab broke a drive shaft in mid-stage after an overshoot and subsequent snap-
gear-change: Clark knew of this within minutes when Orrenius (running No.2) didn’t arrive behind him at the next control, and eased off at once. At that time he led the Malkin-Ytterbring battle by 10 minutes and was unlikely to be caught barring troubles.

With two-and-a-half days‘ rallying to go, interest turned to this battle for second place. The car-driver combinations were very well
matched, with the brilliant young Rootes man in a fast but unproved prototype against the experienced ex-Swedish champion in a works Cooper S. Ytterbring usually had a clear run through the forests (at No. 3. only Clark’s fleet Escort was ahead of him) but Malkin was running No.13 and had to deal with the baulking and dust of cars ahead of him. Poor Mike White (Cortina GT) was running No.12 and was caught twice in long sections but didn’t find out until afterwards.

As the star men retired, private owners began to creep up the leader board. Jack Tordoff was still getting used to his new Escort Twin-Cam, and had no service, but managed to reach sixth place during Tuesday. Alexander MacRae’s Californian was going well just behind him, with Alan Allard (Escort Twin-Cam) and David Thompson (Cortina GT) also starting to show. The only two teams left were Rootes-whose factory led easily, and whose B team of private owners were soldiering on in spite of Robin Eyre-Maunsell rolling his ex-works car and R. Steenson’s Rallye Imp having extremely knock-kneed front suspension.

The Saabs, with prototype V4 1700cc engines were very quick, and Calle Orrenius led at half-distance. This is Simo Lampinen’s car, the only one to finish.

Wednesday and Thursday’s loops were to North-West and North Scotland respectively, with 11 and five stages to round off the event, and some glorious scenery to occupy those drivers who were—by now—just touring to the finish. Colin Malkin finally conceded second place to Ytterbring when his Imp suffered a front wheel puncture at the start of the 7.5-mile Port Clair stage—costing him a vital 80sec. Simo Lampinen’s Saab was debited with a 1000 mark penalty in Glengarry, which dropped him behind Rosemary Smith and made Marcus Chambers look very happy, but this was later corrected when a mistake in ‘phoned results was uncovered.
The infamous Culbin stage was last of all and longest of all at 21.5 miles. Bone dry and full of long straights, it would usually have
been “cleaned” but with the pressure off most crews toured round to finish-even Clark taking a 90sec penalty.  Bill Mackay it was who put the finishing touches to a relaxed day by turning his Cortina over only five miles from the finish of Culbin!

lt wouldn’t be the Scottish Rally without much argument over regulations, timing and classification. The timing itself had been bad enough, with many drivers claiming wrong times (usually at least a minute adrift) and most marshals not willing to listen to reason. Hand-held watches are the problem, and the “bush-telegraph” system of communication from the watch holder to the marshal writing times in road books is laughable even at club level. There was confusion about timing of road sections too, but by far the biggest hoo-ha came after the finish.

Having won the rally very easily in a Group 6 prototype Escort Twin-Cam, Roger Clark was faced by a demand from the scrutineer for the engine to be stripped and checked for size. Since the class limit was 2000cc and no one (human or magician) has ever enlarged a Lotus engine that far. the request was crazy—when the stripped engine was subsequently measured with a sixpenny ruler the Ford mechanics nearly had a fit. Ford were not the only ones however, as a Rootes prototype had to be stripped to see its engine had reached an impossible 1300cc. Surprisingly. the second place Cooper S was ignored completely. This is the sort of thing that spoils the Scottish—the organizers should have learnt from last year.

General Classification:

1. Ford Escort Twin-Cam (R. Clark-J. Porter) 3.027
2. BMC-Cooper S (L. Ytterbring-L. Persson) 3.654
3. Sunbeam Rallye Imp (C. Malkin-J. Brown) 3.623
4. Saab V4 1700 (S. Lampinen-T. Palm) 4,628
5. Sunbeam Rallye Imp (Miss R. Smith-Mrs M.Lowrey) 5.114
6. Ford Escort Twin-Cam (J. Tordoff-B. Merchant) 5.665
1. Ford Cortina GT (D. Thompson-M. Isley) 6.099
6. Hillman Californian (A. MacRae-N. Norrington) 6.105
9. Ford Escort Twin-Cam (A. Allard-T. Fisk) 6.227
10. Ford Anglia GT (R. Charlton-Mrs 8. Charlton) 6.924

Classes Groups 1 and 2 combined:
Up to 850cc: 1. Saab 96 (R.E.Williamson-D.Graham). 10.068.
850-1150cc: 1. BMC-Cooper (L.Cowan-H.N.Watson). 10.545.
1151-1300cc: 1. Ford Escort GT (R.Lamb-A.Mason). 8.533.
1301-1600cc 1. Ford Cortina GT (D.S.F.Thompson-M.Isley). 6.099.
1601-2000cc 1. Sinqer Vogue (A.Watson-Mrs A.Watson). 9.932.

Group 3:
Up to 1300cc: 1. Sunbeam Rallye Imp (R.Eyre-Maunsell-P.Thompson). 9.917.
Over 1300cc: 1. Ford Escort Twin-Cam (J.Tordoff-B.Merchant). 5.665.

Groups 4, 5 and 6 combined:
Up to 1300cc: 1. Sunbeam Rallye Imp (Miss R.Smith-Mrs M.Lowrey). 5.114.
1301-2000cc: 1. Saab V4 1700 (S.Lampinen-T.Palm). 4.628.
Over 2000cc: 1. LandRover (Maj. J.Hemsley-F.E.Webber). 14.286.

Ladies’ Prize: Miss R.Smith and Mrs M.Lowrey (Sunbeam Rallye Imp).
Team Prize: Rootes Team Sunbeam (Miss R.Smith. A.Cowan and C.Malkin).

Robin Eyre-Maunsell would be first in Group 3 at the finish.