1969 Aer-Lingus/M.G. Octagon Rally

Noel Smith and Ricky Foott.

Noel Smith wins close-fought Octagon.

This “Sport in the South” report by Paul Phelan is reproduced from Motorweek – 29 November, 1969. 

The third round of the 1969/70 RIAC Rally Championship, the co-promoted MG – Aer Lingus Motor Club, Flying Octagon Rally, was held on Saturday night. The start was at Mullingar, in order to keep rally activity away from the Dublin area.

As usual, NoelSmith/Ricky Foott (Cooper S), where first Alway followed by “Caribbean Champion” Arnie Poole/Paul Phelan (ex-Works Cooper S ORX777F having its first outing of the season), Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien (Escort TC), and John Bridges/Brendan Doyle (Cooper S).  The entry, at 35, was somewhat smaller than the two previous rounds, and was perhaps depleted by the reputation for roughness which the MG event acquired last year.

After a short run-in, the first really tight section followed immediately – a slippery grassy track to TP2. The first few cars were penalised here, although the results sheet later showed that, as the topsoil was removed, five cars cleaned it: John O’Gorman/Noel Davin, Mick Barry/Dan Kavanagh, Gerry Forde/Frank Fennel (all in Escort TCs), as well as Dave Sheridan/Nial Leonard (Sunbeam Stiletto) and Robert Maharry/Kenny Johnston (Cooper S), although Kenny later admitted to a “shout-up” here.


The first 2 1/2 hours consisted mainly of a series of four and five-minuters, which, although reasonably tight, caused little bother.  An early retirement was the Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue Renault Gordini with a broken differential at TP7.  Ernie Poole/Paul Phelan were penalised for missing TP24, just before Special Stage 1 at Mullaghmeen (4.5 miles).

As in the Cork 20, Mick Dolan was quickest on the first special stage.

SS1 – Mullaghmeen 1:

  1. Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien (Escort) , 6.22; 
  2. Noel Smith/Ricky Foott (Cooper) 6.36; 
  3. Robin Powderly (Anglia), 6.42; 
  4. = John Bridges/Brendan Doyle  (Cooper), 6.46;
  5. = Gerry Forde/Frank Fennell (Escort), 6.46;
  6. Billy Kilroy/Mrs K. Bridges (Cooper, S), 6.53.

No less than 10 cars went off at one right-hander, including Poole, O’Gormon, Barry, Maharry, and Charlie Gunn/Harry McEvoy (Escort TC), but were all helped back onto the straight and narrow by spectators.

More navigation, which included much map-swapping, brought the field to petrol and soup at Oldcastle. After a lengthy break, it was back to Mullaghmeen, for Special Stage 2, this being Special Stage 1 in reverse. Dolan had retired at Oldcastle with water pump trouble, while Charlie Gunn’s radiator was leaking badly, and he also withdrew.

SS2 – Mullaghmeen 2:

  1. = Noel Smith, 6.39;
  2. = Bridges, 6.39;
  3. O’Gorman. 6.42;
  4. Poole, 6.45;
  5. Powderly, 6.50;
  6. Barry, 6.56.

Eamonn Cotter was unlucky when the battery lead became disconnected and he was for ed to stop in the stage.

Another 8 Time Points, again without much difficulty, led to Special Stage 3 at Bailieboro (2.1 miles).  This section included a very nasty hairpin band, with an appreciable drop on the outside, which caused almost the entire entry to have a reverse. Bridges was one of the lucky few to get round in one go, but his engine stalled, necessitating a push to restart. O’Gorman came out best.


SS3 – Bailieboro:

  1. O’Gorman, 3.12;
  2. = Smith, 3.13;
  3. = Poole, 3.13;
  4. = Barry, 3.13;
  5. Bridges, 3.14;
  6. = Powderly, 3.15;
  7. = Jimmy Reid/Morgan O’Sullivan, (Cooper S), 3.15.

Another short road section, through 4 Time Points, brought the survivors to Special Stage 4 (Virginia, 2.9 miles) and the finish of the rally.

SS4 – Virgina:

  1. Bridges, 4.52;
  2. = Smith, 4.56;
  3. = O’Gorman, 4.56;
  4. Barry, 4.59;
  5. Forde, 5.02;
  6. Kilroy, 5.07.

Maharry lost some time with battery trouble, while Poole suffered a puncture after just 1 mile.

Both Smith/Foott and Bridges/Doyle remained clean on the road after their one minute each at TP2, so Smith emerged the winner by seven seconds on the stages. A very closely fought event, although not particularly memorable otherwise, with all the road sections being cleaned by someone. 

The next rally in the series, Leinster motor club’s, Hellfire on December 6, promises to be one of the best yet with a good Northern entry promised.


  1. N.Smith/R.Foott (Cooper S), 64 marks (10 on navigation);
  2. J.Bridges/B.Doyle (Cooper S), 71 marks (10);
  3. J.O’Gorman/N.Davin (Escort TC), 134 marks (60);
  4. M.Barry/D.Kavanagh (Escort TC), 160 Marks (40);
  5. D.Yeates/D.Flanagan (Cooper S), 260 marks (30);
  6. T.McNally/D.Johnston (Cooper S), 313 Marks (150);
  7. R.Maharry/K.Johnston (Cooper S), 324 marks (100);
  8. W.Kilroy/Mrs K Bridges (Cooper S), 397 Marks (260);
  9. A.Poole/P.Phelan (Cooper S), 561 marks (280);
  10. C.Miller/H.Robson (R8 Gordini), 922 marks (680).



  1. N.Smith – 44 points,
  2. J.Bridges – 36,
  3. D.Yeates – 29,
  4. = M.Barry – 27,
  5. = J.O’Gorman – 27
  6. R.Maharry – 21.


  1. R.Foott – 44 points,
  2. B.Doyle – 36,
  3. D.Kavanagh – 30,
  4. N.Davin – 27,
  5. F.O’Donoghue – 23,
  6. K.Johnston – 21.