Incredible, that’s the only word for it.
This report is reproduced from Motorweek 11 April 1970, written by Richard St John Young.
This year’s Gallagher Circuit of Ireland Rally, as befits the biggest and best one so far, featured more than a few tales of fantastic achievements, and the fact that nearly two thirds of the original field failed to finish suggest more than a few lurid moments for some people over Easter.
However, one of the greatest achievements of all was that of Adrian Boyd and Beatty Crawford, who managed to put their Escort off the road in the early stages of the event, lose over half an hour getting it back onto the straight and narrow, and still make the next control within the 15 minutes maximum lateness, albeit by only a couple of seconds! They then carried on, and despite several other misfortunes finished seventh, overall.
Adrian’s Escort is, of course, the one originally rallied by John L’Amie early last year, but since it joined the Boyd stable, it has changed rather a lot and, in addition, has acquired a very smart coat of yellow paint, as anyone who saw it on the “Circuit” will testify.
For the “Circuit”, he was running as part of the official Ford team, and thanks to his fine performances in previous “Circuits”, was at number two behind Roger Clark.
The disaster happened on the sixth special section, the mighty 24 mile Altnamackin stage, where the car dropped one of its fat wheels over the edge of the raised road, and promptly fell off into the bog, ending up on its side.
This would probably have finished many lesser crews, but Adrian and Beatty, together with a few spectators who happened to be nearby, got the car back on its wheels again and, after building a sort of causeway up to the road out of whatever they could find, they regained the road, just as car number 40 happened along.
With only 15 minutes maximum lightness to play with there seemed little hope of the remaining in the rally, but Adrian tried hard and made time control seven with only 15 seconds to spare after what must have been one of the fastest road drives ever, and that included a border crossing!
From there on the car behaved itself, and, just to prove it, Adrian made fastest time on the next two sections.
Leg two of the rally wasn’t too dramatic, though he was in the first three on five of the Saturday stages. The Sunday run brought its share of thrills, particularly on the final stage, Mullaghanish, when the front suspension chose a rather awkward place to come adrift, and much of the stage was completed with only one wheel doing any steering!
The final stages of the rally saw the Boyd Escort steadily climb back to the head of the field, and by the time he reached the finish in Larne, Adrian was in seventh position overall, thanks to some pretty inspired stage driving, surely a remarkable effort.
Last week we were given the opportunity of trying out the car, which is now back in good health after at Easter jaunt, and also of taking a trip through a forestry stage in the hot seat to see how it really should be done.
Well, now we know, and quite frankly, I never realised that corners could be taken so quickly, although from the point of view of watching a driver at work, Adrian has the happy knack of making it all look very easy, with a marked absence of all the elbow waving and twitching so popular with some drivers.
The car itself, despite being shod with Goodyear racers, behaved very well on the loose, or at least it seemed to, from where I was sitting, and it was obvious that the 1600cc unit, which develops some 160 BHP, was well up to the job of pushing the car along, whatever the surface.
From the driving seat, it all seems much more complicated somehow, and with the aforementioned racing tyres on fat Minilite wheels, there is rather a lot of ‘twitch’ in the steering department on uneven roads.
Adrian has extended the gear lever, and this now falls to hand very easily, and the pedals, too, are just about right for easy manipulating. Personally, I found the brakes took a surprising amount of pressure before anything much happened, but Mr Boyd obviously has a rather strong right leg, and can bring the thing to a halt without straining a muscle, or something, every time.
Like several other top navigators, Beatty Crawford favours the Gemini Tripmaster, and one of these is neatly mounted on the left-hand side of the dash, while the normal Twin Cam instrument cluster, plus an extra switch or two, lives on the right.
By way of an “additional extra”, there is an enormous red light down at the bottom of the centre console, to warn of falling oil pressure in a way that cannot be ignored!
The power curve of the engine is very impressive, and despite its considerable poke, the unit will pull from as low as 1000 rpm without fuss, and will even tick-over quite happily, with none of the plug-oiling temperament one is led to expect from a motor of this performance.
Once underway, however, it’s all muscle, and there is plenty of pull right up to 7000 rpm or so, where it is advisable to go and find another gear. Adrian did find himself going rather higher than this in the heat of battle, but somehow it didn’t seem like a good idea for us to try it. The gearing used for the “Circuit” gave the car a top speed of just over 100 mph, with pretty earth-shattering acceleration, and it was this instant “oomph” that we enjoyed so much.
Next month, the Boyd equipe will be off to Austria to do the Austrian Alpine Rally, and for this event, Bertie Campbell, who has been responsible for much of the work on the Escort over the past few months, will be joining the Ford service crew in order to keep an eye on things.
Adrian also hopes to follow this up with a run on the Acropolis Rally, since Austria is halfway to Greece, and there’s not too big a gap between the two events. If this comes off, he may well be an official Ford team member for the event.
Ford Escort seems to be the only way to go in rallies these days, but before last week we never really realised just what an exciting way it is. Thank you Adrian.