1969 Sport in the South – Nov.

Barry/Kavanagh TC wins 20-hour Cork Rally

Report by Paul Phelan is reproduced from Motorweek 8th November 1969.

For their R.I.A.C. Championship round, the Fit Remoulds Cork 20-hour Rally, Munster Motor Cycle and Car Club decided to run a special stage event, thus departing from the traditional format for the “20-hour”, which has always been mainly a navigation rally.  As in the Thomond rally, a large entry was received, of whom 47 started.

Championship leaders Noel Smith/Ricky Foott (Cooper S) were first away, followed by local hero John O’Gorman with Noel Davin navigating (Escort TC), Charlie Gunn/Paul Phelan (Escort TC), Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue (Renault R8 Gordini) and Mick Dolan/Jim O’Brien (Escort TC).

A 12-mile run-in led to Special Stage 1, near Watergrasshill, where Dolan set the best time but he was forced to retire immediately afterwards with clutch maladies.

O’Gorman was also in difficulties, giving up at the start of Special Stage 2 with severe overheating caused by water pump failure.  Mick Barry/Dan Kavanagh (Escort TC) began showing their form on this stage, narrowly beating their nearest rivals.

All of the first three stages were forests, while Special Stage 4 was partly forest with the last 1.5 miles on closed tarmac road.  A deceptively slippery left-hander on this section caused quite an amount of damage, Pat Fay being the first casualty.  He was able to continue with a loss of about 30 seconds.  

Eamonn Cotter/Mick Silke (Cooper S) were not so lucky, and ended their rally here.  Shortly afterwards, Gabriel Grier/Richard Bruton (Opel Kadett) embedded themselves in a shed just a few hundred yards earlier, and also retired.

Terry MacNeill/Nial Leonard (Escort TC) had discovered a serious oil-leak from the filter, and were over maximum lateness by the time this was rectified.


Special Stage 5, a 7.2-mile closed-road section near Dungarvan, was partly covered in fog for the earlier numbers, but this later lifted.  Paddy O’Callaghan/Harry McEvoy (BMW 2002) were halted for 12 minutes on this stage when their distributor rotor arm broke.  Sellotape and glue got them to the supper halt at Cappoquin, where a replacement was procured from a parked VW!

At supper, Mick Barry was in the lead (2033 seconds) from Willie O’Brien/Des Flanagan (Anglia) on 2048 seconds, John Bridges/Brendan Doyle (Cooper S) on 2061, and Noel Smith on 2083.  John and Dick Keating were going well in an Escort GT with 2086 seconds, and Gerry Forde/Paul Doyle were on 2091 in their Escort TC.

Unfortunately Special Stage 7, one of the longest of the rally at 8.8 miles, had to be “scrubbed” when the timing went awry, while a modified 7.3-mile version of the “Circuit” stage at Clogheen went ahead as planned.  This section caused some difficulties, Charlie Gunn’s Escort suffering a puncture 2 miles from the start, while Mick Barry was off the road just yards before the finish.  Both cars lost about 50 seconds to the fastest runners on the stage.


Nobby Reilly/Phil Erskine (Imp) had retired with the rear suspension collapsed again, while Hugh Heuston’s Stiletto was burnt out, having gone straight-on at a T-junction.  Robert Maharry’s Cooper S, which had been a bit sick since the start, began motoring properly for a while before stopping completely at Ballyhourn when the sump-guard severed the battery cable.

Charlie Gunn took Special Stage 10, a slippery 6.75-miler near Ballyduff, while Mick Barry continued to draw away from the opposition on stages 11, 12, and the 13.7-mile forest at Ballyhoura.  Billy Kilroy/Kris Bridges (Cooper S)  lost their brakes and were forced to miss a special stage when they eventually re-started.  Four more forestry sections followed, one of which was later “scrubbed” from the results, while the final test, a very narrow winding closed-road stage saw Mick Barry’s differential giving trouble.  He made it to the finish however to record the first victory for an Escort on an R.I.A.C. Championship event.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship by Fit Remoulds, a cash award was presented for the best time on each stage, as well as to the overall placings.  The rally, with its 95 miles of stages, certainly kept drivers busy for the night, but it came as something of a surprise that only five crews cleaned the road section as there was no serious navigation whatsoever!

RESULTS – General Classification

  1. M.E. Barry/D. Kavanagh (Escort TC) 645.1;
  2. N.T. Smith/R.H. Foott (Cooper S) 651.0;
  3. J.H. Bridges/B.Doyle (Cooper S) 651.1;
  4. C.A. Gunn/P. Phelan (Escort TC) 656.8;
  5. J.C. Keating/R. Keating (Escort GT) 674.0;
  6. P.Fay/F.P. O’Donoghue (R8 Gordini) 677.6;
  7. P. & D. O’Suilleabhain (Anglia) 682.4;
  8. G. Forde/P.W. Doyle (Escort TC) 682.9;
  9. W. O’Brien/D. Flanagan (Anglia) 762.0;
  10. P. O’Callaghan/H. McEvoy (BMW2002) 797.6.

1969/70 Championship Placings after two events:


  1. N.T. Smith 29 points;
  2. J. H. Bridges 22;
  3. P. O’Suilleabhain 19;
  4. D. Yeates 18;
  5. =M.E. Barry 15;
  6. =J.C.Keating 15.


  1. R.H. Foott 29 points;
  2. F.P. O’Donoghue 23;
  3. B. Doyle 22;
  4. D. O”Suilleabhain 19;
  5. D. Kavanagh 18;
  6. R. Keating 15.