1969 Cork 20

Mick Barry and Dan Cavanagh, seen here on the Circuit of Ireland, took their Escort TC to a fine Cork 20 win.

Smith/Foott beaten in Eire

This report first appeared in AUTOSPORT, NOVEMBER 20, 1969

THE second round of the Irish National Rally Championship found the circus moving to the south coast city of Cork for the Munster MC & LCC’s Cork 20 Rally, which was generously sponsored by Fit Kilkenny Remoulds. The 260-mile route included 93 miles of special sections on forestry or roads closed to the public, totalling 19 stages in all, although three of these were later scrubbed.

Victory went to the Galway pair Mick Barry/Dan Cavanagh (Escort TC), whose cumulative stage times were 59 secs better than current champions Noel Smith/Ricky Foott (Cooper S), who in turn were only 1 sec ahead of John Bridges/Brendan Doyle in a similar car. Barry, who has had a good deal of car trouble recently, now appears to have his Escort fully sorted and his return should add considerable bite to this series.

Of the fully subscribed entry of 50, only five crews non-started, and almost all the leading championship contenders were included. Notable absentees, however, were Tom Burke and Demmy Fitzgerald, whose Team Goldstripe Escorts had not yet recovered from their Thomond ailments.

Last year’s winner, Rosemary Smith, was unable to compete, so number 1 went to Smith/Foott, who were followed in succession by John O’Gorman/Noel Davin (Escort TC), Charlie Gunn, making one of his rare rally appearances and navigated by Paul Phelan (Escort TC), and Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue (Renault-Gordini). Midlanders Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien (Escort TC) were followed by Galwaymen Eamonn Cotter/Mick Silk (Cooper S), Bridges/Doyle, Barry/Cavanagh, Dave and George Yeates (Cooper S) and Paddy O’Callaghan/Harry McAvoy (BMW).

Warm and comfortable conditions at the club’s headquarters enabled competitors to plot the 70-odd map references issued at check-in, before the city centre ramp start at 9 pm. An easy 14 mile run-out brought crews to SS1 near Watergrasshill, which saw the first retirements: Dolan/O’Brien were fastest here but burnt out their clutch, while O’Gorman/Davin were out with loss of water pump bearings.

As the route ran east, two more forests saw the rally through Clonmult to SS4 at Mount Uniacke, which was the scene of many “moments”! Fay/O’Donoghue let the Gordini “fall” as the loose surface gave way to tar, thus reducing their lighting equipment, while Cotter/Silk retired after they lost an argument with a churn stand. Kevin Twomey/Brian Mattsson (Cortina GT) retired when they lost their engine mountings, as did Finbar Buckley/Sam Hawkins when the condenser of their Anglia GT failed.

SS1, Kearney’s Cross (4.0 miles): 1, Dolan, 37.0; 2, O’Brien, 37.5; 3, Barry, 37.6; 4, Fay and Bridges, 37.7.

SS2, Glendine Bridge (2.2 miles): 1, Barry, 15.2; 2, Fay and Bridges, 15.5; 4, O’Brien, 15.6; 5, Reilly, 16.1.

55.3, Rathorgan (1.8 miles): 1. Fay, 14.3; 2, Barry, 14.7; 3, O’Brien 15.0; 4, Smith, 15.1; 5, Gunn, Bridges and Keating, 15.2.

SS4, Mount Uniacke (4.0 miles): 1, Barry, 32.6; 2, Smith, 32.9; 3, Powderly, 34.2; 4, Keating and Ford, 34.3.

The route now ran across the Blackwater Estuary with an easy main road run, but not before John Daly/Rory Conway (Cooper S) rolled into a field and Margaret Gossen/Mary Donnelly wrong-slotted in a big way, taking the wrong side of the river estuary completely.

O’Callaghan/McAvoy became bogged down on SS5 near Clashmore after they pulled off the road to repair a broken» distributor, recording a slow stage time and losing 7 road minutes into the bargain. Also in trouble here were John O’Sullivan/N. O’Sullivan, whose ex-Peter Cullen Anglia t/c caught fire and was completely gutted, while the suspension collapsed on the Niall McCarthy/Paul Desmond Cooper S.

Fire struck once again at SS6 at Villierstown, gutting Heuston’s Stiletto. Novice award winners Cathal Conlon/ Dave Buckley, who were motoring in an extremely tidy manner, lost some time here when they had a puncture.

SS5, Mount Stuart (7.0 miles): 1, O’Brien, 55.0; 2. Bridges, 55.6; 3, Keating, 56.5; 4, Smith, 56.8; 5, Barry and Ford, 57.0. ,

SS6, Villierstown (5.2 miles): 1, O‘Suilleabhain and Barry, 46.2; 3, Ford and O’Brien, 47.4; 5, Smith and Keating, 47.5.

No clear picture of the leaders had appeared by the one hour supper halt at Cappoquin but Barry/Cavanagh had been fastest on three of the six stages already held. Among the retirements here were John O’Regan (Imp), who completed the previous two stages with the aid of a flash-light held by navigator Tony Welsh after their alternator had failed.

The stage at Crow Hill immediately after the restart was scrubbed owing to timing difficulties. The Circuit of Ireland stage at Cloheen, smoothed a little by road-works but still unsurfaced, found Gunn/Phelan losing much time when they had to drive on the rim following a puncture, while Barry/Cavanagh suffered a short off-road excursion.

SS7, Crow Hill (9.3 miles): scrubbed.

SS8, Clogheen (7.4 miles): 1, Smith, 60:6; 2 Bridges and Keating, 61.4; 4, Fay, 61.8; 5, O‘Brien, 62.9.

The rally now had settled down into a five-way scrap between Smith, Bridges, Gunn, Barry and Fay, with Barry having a slight edge; the thick black trail of rubber at Cullenagh gave witness of this, as on this stage he had the better of Gunn by l sec. Barry really now got down to the business of motoring as competitors reached the 14.3-mile Ballyhoura Forest stage with its two water splashes, both reduced to mere trickles by the long dry spell, and gained himself 39 secs over Gunn.

SS9, Knocknabout (2.9 miles): 1, Bridges, 19.8; 2 Smith Gunn and Barry 20.2; 5, Maharry, 20.5.

SS10, Gortnapeaky (6.0 miles): 1, Gunn, 55.5; 2, Barry, 55.6; 3, Maharry, 56.1; 4. Smith, 56.4, 5, Bridges, 56.8.

SS11, Curraghgorm (2.4 miles): 1, Barry, 424.3; 2. Bridges, 24.6; 3, Maharry, 25.1; 4, Fay. 25.3; 5, Gunn, 25.4

S512, Cullenagh (4.3 miles): 1. Berry, 35.2; 2, Gunn, 35.3; 3. Smith, 35.6; 4, Bridges, 35.7; 5, Powderly, 36.1.

SS13, Ballyhoura (14.3 miles): 1, Barry, 108.6; 2, Gunn, 112.5; 3, Smith, 113.7; 4. Bridges, 114.5; 5. Fay, 116.7.

Gunn had his revenge at Corran Mountain, but as the rally crossed the road into Seefin Forest it was Barry again, setting the last of his seven fastest times. The O’Suilleabhain brothers, Dan and Padraig, managed an appearance among the leaders in their Anglia, which was by now without shock absorbers.

SS14, Curran (6.3 miles): 1, Gunn, 46.5; 2, Barry, 47.8; 3, Bridges, 48.0; 4, Smith, 48.5; 5, Keating, 50.0.

SS15, Seefin (3.0 miles): 1, Barry, 18.9; 2, Fay, 19.0; 3, Smith 19.1; 4, Keating,‘ 9.2: 5, O’Suilleabhain, 19.9.

Following the cancellation of SSl6, competitors went straight on to Knockannagh, where Bridges took the honours; the following stage at Daly’s Cross had to be scrubbed owing to timing faults. Smith began to get a new lease of life as the last stage was reached, the narrow, twisty, tarred Glashaboy Section, while Barry was quite happy to share fourth fastest with Fay.

SS16, Knockacullata (0.8 miles): cancelled.

S517, Knockannig (3.2 miles): 1, Bridges, 23.5; 2. Smith and Barry, 23.6; 4, Fay and O’Callaghan, 24.0.

SS18, Daly’s Cross (4.8 miles): scrubbed.

SS19, Glashaboy (4.2 miles): 1, Smith, 39.5; 2. Gunn, 40.3; 3, Bridges, 40.4; 4, Fay and Barry, 42.4.

Nothing remained but an easy run to take the rally back to Cork, where break- fast was taken and results announced. Although the top crews found the variety of stages very much to their liking, the event took quite an extraordinary toll of cars when it is realised that, in effect, only 90 miles were really competitive, and it seems difficult to account for the 23 retirements.

It is a little too soon to begin reckoning the championship positions, but the series should reach a very interesting position by the end of the third round this weekend, when the Aer Lingus and MG clubs hold their co-promoted Flying Octagon Rally.



  1. M. E. Barry/D. Cavanagh (Ford Escort TC). 645.1;
  2. N. T. Smith/R. H. Foott (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 651.0;
  3. J. H. Bridges/B. P. Doyle (1.2 Mini-Cooper S), 651.1;
  4. C. A. Gunn/P, Phelan (Ford Escort TC), 656.8;
  5. J. Keating/R. Keating (Ford Escort GT), 674.0;
  6. P. Fay/F. O’Donoghue (Renault-Gordini), 677.6;
  7. P. O‘Sullleabhain/ D. O‘Sullleabhain (Ford Anglia GT), 682.4;
  8. G. Ford/P. Doyle (Ford Escort TC), 682.9;
  9. W. O’Brien/D. Flanagan (Ford Anglia GT). 762.0
  10. P. O’Callaghan/H. McAvoy (BMW 2002), 797.6.

Ladies’s award: Miss M. Fitzgerald-Smith (Hillman Imp)

Novice award: C. Conlon/D. Burkley (1.0 Mini).