1969 Manx Trophy Rally

Colin Malkin and John Davenport tweak their Hillman Imp through a corner on their way to a convincing win.


This report is reproduced from Autosport Magazine – May 30, 1969.

THE Manx Trophy Rally must be one of the fastest events currently run in these islands as the liberal attitude of both the RAC and Manx Auto Sport allow special stages to be run at 60 mph over closed public roads. Thus it is the closest thing to a continental event that we have, with the exception of the Circuit of Ireland. The surprise is then that a small car like Colin Malkin’s Hillman Imp, even with an 1140 cc engine, should win.

Many of the Manx stages are very similar to the tarmac stages used in the Circuit of Ireland so it was no surprise to find Cahal Curley going very quickly in his Escort TC to finish second. In third spot came last year’s winner, local man John Huyton who was being navigated by Mrs Margaret Kennish in a new Lotus Cortina. He was close pressed by Will Sparrow/Nigel Raebum in a Cooper S, who finished 32 secs behind him. Norman Harvey/Hywel Thomas arrived with a Cooper S, but were not allowed to start as their laminated screen was badly cracked.

The form of the rally was that it was divided into three parts with a night section of some 140 miles starting at midnight on Friday followed by a day section of similar length split in two by a break for lunch. The weather on the Isle of Man can be a bit changeable for whereas on Wednesday night, the plane carrying Pat Moss across to start practice got turned back, the next day was glorious, while on Friday night rain and mist were present though in small quantities.

Pat Moss was driving the new 1300 Lancia belonging to the Jolly Club which has a five speed gearbox, while Tony Fall/David Fawcett were using the original 1300 that John Bloxham used earlier this year. Bloxham/Richard Harper made up the rest of Oliver Speight’s team with their Escort TC. Colin Malkin/John Davenport had the faithful Imp they used on the Welsh, while Jenny Nadin/Gerry Phillips were in the same 998cc Imp that Jenny had used on the Welsh. Roy Fidler/Barry Hughes were driving the second Clarke and Simpson Escort TC in the absence of their BMW.

Straight from the start the rally went just north of Douglas to three tight little tests on the first two of which Des McCartney/Mervyn Johnson set fastest time in their Cooper S only to retire on the third stage after misjudging the speed at which it was possible to negotiate the ford. This was not only their misfortune, for while their car was blocking the road, Jack Tordotf/Gerry Ryan got waved down and in order to stop, shot up a little track from which it was impossible to extract their Escort TC.

On the second test, Doug Baird mounted a wall with his Mylchreest-prepared Cooper S and retired, while Tony Fall lost just over three minutes when a throttle link came undone on his Lancia. Also retiring with alternator trouble were Jim Bullough/Don Barrow whose Escort also stopped after Druidale while Denis Cardell/Keith Eustace despite setting some fast times were in trouble with an ignition lead jumping off on their Cooper S.

The fourth stage was the long one over the mountain and down Tholt-y-Will where Roy Fidler really got to grips with things and beat John Huyton by 23 secs with Rob Lawrence (Cooper S), Will Sparrow and Colin Malkin all about another ten secs back. For Fidler, however, retirement was near at hand, for shortly the clutch/gearbox started to give trouble and he retired on Druidale unable to select any gears.

Some very fast stages were followed by the twisty loose surfaced one over the Curraghs which brought the cars to the foot of Druidale. Here Malkin, Huyton and Fall were all within a few secs of one another and were over 20 secs quicker than the next cars. David Sutton/Martin Giles retired the other Clarke and Simpson TC here with alternator troubles, while Rob Lawrence/David Stephenson flew off the road in a fairly substantial way with their immaculate Cooper S, wrecking it and their chances of success.

On the next stage, Jenny Nadin/Gerry Phillips got a bit mixed up over some terrible yumps and landed off the road. They were put back on the road by willing hands, but not without some considerable delay. Towards the end of the night, Curley was starting to go faster and after Huyton had two punctures on stages, he replaced him as Malkin’s nearest challenger. On the stage round the back of Ronaldsway Airport, Malkin nearly finished his rally when he motored smartly sideways through a fence, but the driving test technique that he was to show to advantage on the Sunday got him back through and on the road again with a loss of only a few secs. A little earlier, Pat Moss had also tried the same sort of thing with a stone wall while crossing the finish line of a test and had spun to a halt by the astounded stop marshal, who had found himself confronted with an unperturbed David Stone who just said “car number 2, please”!

At the start of the day section, Malkin had a clear lead of some two mins which he increased on the first few sections and then eased back for the remainder of the rally. Curley was in trouble with his clutch, which was not always disengaging and caused him to lose a little time. One unfortunate incident happened to Nigel Rockey/Clive Plummet who were lying an excellent fifth with no practice when they crashed with their Escort TC on the descent away from Glen Rushen.

Druidale. proved to be on for Malkin, Fall and Sparrow though it was at the expense of Fall’s sump which started to leak oil and was later to start spreading it all over the roads and his brakes. On the re-start from lunch, Malkin had a lead of two and a half minutes so that barring accidents he was almost uncatchable, though behind him raged a battle royal between Curley and Fall, and Sparrow and Huyton for second and fourth places. Part of this was resolved when Fall had further trouble with his sump which continued to leak oil despite Oliver Speight sacrificing his sweater to stop the flow, and then when a distributor cap disintegrated, he and Fawcett finally called it a day.

At the restart there had been a disappointment for David Cowan/Tony Mason who had not been allowed to continue with their collapsed suspension Cooper S as the scrutineers considered it dangerous.

The last few stages were uneventful though slight rain made the last two really slippery and kept a lot of spectators away from the finish on Douglas promenade. Results for the stages were quick in coming out, but the prizegiving that evening was cancelled as some competitors saw fit to protest before the final results were even published. The protest was concerning the application of the thirty minutes lateness clause in the regulations. This sorry affair dragged right on through the Sunday and the final protest was only lodged at 4.30 pm when the competitors boat sailed at 5.30 pm.

Somehow, the harrassed organisers managed to get things sorted out, the prizes presented, and the boat left in time.

John Davenport.


  1. C. Malkin/J. Davenport (1.1 Hiliman Imp), 648 pens;
  2. C. Curley/A. Frazer (1.6 Ford Escort TC), 739;
  3. J. E. Huyton/Mrs M. Kennish (1.6 Ford-Lotus Cortina), 840;
  4. W. D. Sparrow/N. Raeburn (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 872;
  5. Miss P. Moss-Carlsson/D. Stone (1.3 Lancia Fulvia), 1267;
  6. J. Dodsworth/P. Readshaw (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 1334;
  7. J. Bloxham/R. Harper (1.6 Ford Escort TC), 1346;
  8. D. M, Easthope/Mrs E. Easthope (1.5 Ford Cortina GT), 1420;
  9. D. N. Smith/C. H. Peinrice (1.3 Ford Escort GT), 1460;
  10. E. Christian/M. Kennish (1.5 Ford Anglia GT), 1593.