CURLEY TAKES SCALLON CUP.
This report by Peter Scott was first published in MotorWeek on 17 September 1970. Photos are from the Bryce Sands collection.
EVEN with the disadvantage of a standard engine in his Escort TC, Cahal Curley had quite an easy win in Omagh Motor Club’s Scallon Cup Rally and is now back in the lead of the Rally Championship. Second was the Cooper S of Ronnie White and Harold Hagan and third place went to the very well driven Imp of Jimmy Campbell and Brian Dorman, the best placing to date for this pair.
The start, as usual in Charlton’s Garage in Omagh, was very pleasant as it was all under cover in the large workshop. The scrutineering was carried out in the car showroom and 84 reference route instructions handed out from 8 pm. These showed that the first three hours would be given to Special Stages, 18.4 miles of forestry motoring being completed in the 80 miles.
This section finished at Castlederg, petrol and service halt No1. From here there was a 130 mile navigation run on maps 2, 4 and 5, all in County Tyrone.
The event attracted an entry of 77, the experts, Class 1, consisting of 24 crews, Class 2 of 18 crews, and the remainder in the novice class. First away from the start were last year’s victors Cahal Curley and Austin Frazer, in the Twin Cam. Due to engine damage on the Moonraker, Curley had procured the standard engine from Lexie Hughes’ Lotus Cortina — this unit proved very reliable and only on the faster forest straights showed its limitation of less top speed.
Behind them came Ronnie White and Harold Hagan in the Cooper S, and then Ronnie McCartney made one of his rare appearances in the 1822cc ex-McKeag Escort TC, being navigated by Ian McFarland on this occasion. Moonraker winner Mervyn Johnston in the Cooper S was very nearly not navigated by Paul Phelan, as Paul was being given a lift from Dublin to the start by Noel Smith in the S engined Hornet. Phelan had to complete the run by taxi and only just made the start line. Next came the rather unreliable Rallye Imp of Robin Eyre-Maunsell/Norman Henderson and they were followed by No. 7 crew Hugh O’Brien/Mike Hart in the ex-Chris Slater Twin Cam as Smith, of course, non started.
Nos. 8, 9 and 10 were John Chambers/Brian Rowan and Harry Cathcart/ Geoff Morrison both Cooper S mounted, and Dessie McCartney again in the rather slow Toyota, Terry Harryman making a welcome return to the hot seat in this car. In the Semi-Experts, Jim Conlon/Peter Scott (TC Escort) were first out with Ken Irwin/P. J. Winters (Cooper S) and the very quick BMW 2002 TI of David Agnew and R. Packenham on their heels. Top seed in Class 3 was Alan Bushe in the Cooper S.
Curley left the start at 9.01 and eight miles later came to the first forest, Gortin Glen, a very twisty but smooth surfaced 1.9 mile stage for which 2m 30sec was allowed. Here the Curley Twin Cam had its first of six successive fastest times, this time from Ronnie McCartney in his Twin Cam and the Cooper S drivers Ronnie Wilson and Ronnie White.
S.S.1 Gortin Glen–1.9m-2m 30sec.
- Curley/Frazer (Escort TC) 3m 12s,
- McCartney/McFarland (Cooper S) 3.22,
- Crawford/Cunningham (Cooper S) 3.22,
- Johnston/Phelan (Cooper S) 3.23.
- Agnew/Pakenham (BMW 2002 TI) 3.26,
- Irwin/Winters (Cooper S) 3.32,
- Boyle/McCabe (Midget) 3.33,
- Martin/Hollywood (1650 Escort) 3.34.
- Arthur/McGhee (Rallye Imp) 3.45,
- McGauran/Faughan (Cooper) 3.48.
The route then led via Gortin and Newtownstewart to the four stages in Baronscourt. The first was Sawmill, 2½ minutes being allowed for 2 miles of forest. McCartney was again second to Curley with White and Mervyn Johnston next best. One mile after the finish was Stage 3, Mullaghcroy, rough, short (1.5m) and to be remembered by Mervyn Johnston who went off one mile into the stage on a downhill left hander. This being a short stage, his penalty of “twice the bogey” was only 24 marks (1 mark per 10sec). The Crawford/Cunningham Cooper S was seen with bonnet up after the finish and did not last much longer. This time Eyre-Maunsell came next to CB and Harry Cathcart and Dessie Wilson followed.
David Agnew got the “BM” into the fastest six on this stage. This very promising young driver is beginning to get the hang of the powerful car and was in fact fourth fastest overall on the stages. On the following stage, the 4½ miles of Bessy Bell, with its long uphill straights he was able to unleash all 180 bhp and was fourth quickest, only being bested by Curley and McCartney, who cleaned the stage and Ronnie White.
The last of the Baronscourt stages, Leglands, was 2 miles and 2m 40s were allowed. The Minis of White and Cathcart split the Escorts of Curley and McCartney on this slippery downhill run. John Chambers (Cooper S) was in trouble with a stuck throttle cable on Bess Bell and after fixing it burnt out the clutch trying to get going again.
Robin Eyre-Maunsell broke a rear shock absorber, also on this stage, and gave up at the finish. On Leglands, Oliver Hadden/Dave Elliott had a lucky escape when wheel studs broke and the Cooper S slid downhill at high speed for fifty yards and ended inches from a large tree.
John Kerr was having much trouble with the Lotus Cortina and Dessie Wilson broke a brake pipe and had to miss the last two stages. Southern crew Jimmy Reid/Frank O’Donoghue (Cooper S) were also having back brake troubles.
S.S.2 Sawmill—2.0m-2m 30s
- Curley/Frazer 3.03,
- McCartney/McFarland 3.12,
- White/Hagan 3.16,
- Johnston/Phelan 3.20,
- Wilson/Duffin 3.21,
- Cathcart/Morrison 3.23.
- Martin/Hollywood 3.27,
- Irwin/Winter 3.31,
- Agnew/Pakenham 3.35,
- Noble/Robinson 3.43 (Cooper S).
- Patterson/ X (Viva) 3.40,
- McGauran/Faughan 3.45.
S.S.3 Mullaghcroy 1.5m-2m 0s.
- Curley/Frazer 3.12,
- Eyre-Maunsell/Henderson 3.16 (Imp),
- Cathcart/Morrison (Cooper S) 3.18,
- Des Wilson/X (1293 Elf S) 3.18,
- McCartney/McFarland 3.21,
- Campbell/Dorman (Rallye Imp) 3.22.
- Agnew/Pakenham 3.20,
- Irwin/Winters 3.22,
- Martin/Hollywood 3.28,
- Ronnie Reid/McConnell 3.33 (Imp)
- Arthur/McGhee 3.34,
- Patterson/ X 3.39.
S.S.4 Bessy Bell – 4.5m – 6m
O’Brien/Hart (Escort TC) 6.15,
S.S.5 – Leglands – 2m – 2m 40s
Wilson/Kellagher (Cooper S) 3.57,
Tanahill/Lyle (Cooper S) 3.59.
Jimmy Campbell/Brian Dorman were going noticeably well in the Imp as were Semi-Experts Paul Martin/David Hollywood in the well prepared 1650 pushrod Escort and Ken Irwin/P. J. Winters who had bent a radius arm on their Cooper S but were still going strong. Ferran Boyle was putting in san exceptional performance in his Midget, as these cars are known not to like forests.
The sixth stage, Lough Braden, was ten miles after Leglands, with a passage control on the way just to make sure everyone kept to the correct route. This very smooth and fast stage was three miles long. White was second to Curley here, and Paul Martin, best in class 2, equalled White‘s tine. Agnew
was 4 secs slower than Martin and Hugh O’Brien/Mike Hart a further four seconds adrift. After this stage both McCartney brothers were in trouble, stopped on top of Scraghy Mountain, Dessie out of the rally with a broken camshaft and Ronnie in bother with broken points. David McCullagh came along and supplied a spare set of points for Ronnie and they were fitted to the Twin Cam very efficiently by Dessie.
A fifteen mile run led to the final forest on the edge of the Border, this was Ardnabrandy. Practically straight for its length and for which 4½ minutes were allowed. Here Curley found that, with a 5.1 diff, the standard engine would not rev high enough and was in fact getting valve bounce in top gear. McCartney, his engine giving much more power with the new points pipped Curley by one second for fastest time. Ronnie White was ten seconds slower, not being as quick as usual in the forests, and Agnew was a second behind White. Racing driver Jackie Patterson running in the novice class was a remarkable fifth fastest in his Viva and was best in this class on the stages.
S.S.6 Lough Braden 3m – 3m 40s
S.S.7 Ardnabrandy – 4m 30s
After Ardnabrandy the BMW of Agnew broke a gearbox mounting. From here there was an easy run to Time Control 1 at Castlederg. Most people had completed the 80 miles with about an hour to spare and took advantage of the fact that one could book in 30 minutes before due time without penalty. One of the few crews to be penalised for lateness at this control were Johnston/Phelan who had been lifted back onto the road after their excursion. They were down eleven minutes.
Petrol was available at Eakins garage, now owned by brothers Robin and Jimmy Lyons, both rally men, and their lift was used by a few competitors to effect repairs. One hour and five minutes, plus for most the 30 minutes that were allowed for servicing and food, were spent at a restaurant across the road from the service park in the cattle yard.
Curley’s mechanics did no more than check the car over, the hard work in the past two weeks paying off. White was also trouble free but many others were not. Hugh O’Brien’s Escort was having its sumpguard retightened and David Agnew was replacing the gearbox mounting on the BMW. Harry Cathcar changed the SP44’s to 68’s for the road section. The Toyota of McCartney/ Harryman passed through Castlederg on the end of a towrope.
Time control 2, outside the service park, was the start of the navigation section. An easy 25 minutes on the roads between Castlederg and Victoria Bridge let to TC3 and everybody was on time here. The route then led by Altincurry Glen, past Ligfordum Forest and round the ITV mast at Koram Hill. At the T junction beside the mast (2/392945) Des Wilson did the classic “straight on” and into the bog. The S-engined Elf was retrieved before long but then had to miss two time controls to get back onto schedule.
Through Owenreagh, along the long rough at Craignapple, up the newly tarred road at 2/455945 and along the road not shown on the map through 468945 brought the convoy to TC4 where most experts were clean except Ronnie Wilson — 1m down — and David McCullagh, losing 4m, mostly because of navigator sickness.
In Class 2 Jim Conlon/Peter Scott (TC Escort) were the only crew clean.
- Conlon/Scott 0,
- Reid/McConnell 1,
- =Agnew/Pakenham 3, and
- =Noble/Robinson 3,
- =Irwin/Winters 6, and
- =Abraham/Crooke 6.
The Midget of Boyle/McCabe disappeared somewhere here. Up the twisty Butterlope Glen Road, round the back of Plumbridge and through all the 90 degree left and right handers at Castledamph brought navigators to the not-as-map junction at 2/5201/2914. Here, for those who may be interested, one has to cross the river bridge before the white and yellow roads part.
From this point short runs on maps 2, 4 and 5 brought cars to TC 5 at Calan Bridge. On the way Jimmy Campbell was at work at the Imp with the engine cover up and dropped 11 minutes. Expert crews Pat McCourt/Bill Saulter (Lotus Cortina) were down 4. Will Farren/Gordon Taggart (1) and McCullagh/Taylor (1). Again the only semi-experts clean were Conlon/Scott, next best being Irwin/Winters (4) and Reid/McConnell.
The section to time control 6 was one of the toughest. After three miles on unsurfaced roads, over Barnes Gap, along Glenelly Valley, five rough miles of Doraville Lodge, past the top of Coneyglen Burn and up a very slippery newly surfaced road, few crews were clean.
Curley/Frazer, White/Hagan, Cathcart/Morrison, Johnston/Phelan and Reid/O’Donoghue were within the 30 minutes allowed, as was Class 2 crew of Irwin/Winters. Farren/Taggart lost (1), Campbell/Dorman (2), and McCourt/Saulters, Agnew/Pakenham and Conlon/Scott all were down 3 minutes, but McCourt had missed a passage control. On the way the Escort of O’Brien/Hart had lost all except top gear and was out of the rally. Shortly after the bottom of Doraville, Ronnie Reid put his Imp up on its side, but only eight minutes were lost in righting it.
The second petrol an service halt was at Glenhull and here White’s car was getting its gear change attended to, and many were having their brakes adjusted. McCullagh’s Imp was having lighting problems.
Fifty minutes were allowed for the 14½ miles to control 7, this to include the halt, and most made this easily. Leading crews on the road were Curley/Frazer (0), White/Hagan “(0), Farren/Taggart (2), and Wilson/Duffin and Conlon/Scott both 3 minutes down.
The club had hoped to use Davagh Forest as a Special Stage but, due to a bridge not being repaired in time, this had to be cancelled and the route went round the outside of the forest to the time control below Lough Fea. En route to TCB 8 the cars covered most of the roads south of Davagh, including one very rough road at 696811. The route instructions said: “rocks in road — care” and some crews took it that the rocks would be at the above reference, but the instructions meant along the whole road and in fact the worst rock was about 200 yards earlier.
Curley/Frazer hit the rock very hard but got away with it, Harry Cathcart/Geoff Morrison did not. They hit it so hard that they broke their sumpguard and their sump, also bending the screen pillars. A sad end to a run that had them in third place at the time. The crew were given a lift to the next time control in the Conlon/Scott Escort, not appreciating the back-seat motoring on the way.
At the time control, 9 in class one and Conlon/Scott and Reid/ McConnell in class 2 were clean. On the way Will Farren/ Gordon Taggart (Cooper) had missed a passage control due to a reference Gordon wrongly plotted.
A relatively easy 25 minuter to TC 9, east of Carrickmore, through Gortaclady and Evishtrask saw all clean except Wilson/Duffin down one minute and McCullagh/Taylor down two. There was patchy fog in places but this did not cause anyone to lose time.
Thirty minutes motoring led to the finish, only fifteen miles, but they were t change all placings except the first two. First, both Irwin/Winters and Farren/Taggart went a couple of miles up a wrong road, then while going through the ford at 581723 Mervyn Johnston’s light switch burnt out and he had to lower the heater and cross the wires. This cost him 6 minutes.
Then the not as map junction at Mullaslin Quarry (5/566729) came up, and even Austin Frazer brought Curley into the quarry before finding the right road. At this time Curley only had third gear but plenty of torque in the standard engine kept him going. After passing by Drumnakilly there was three miles of unsurfaced road and on this Conlon/Scott stopped at a junction, the engine cut out, and it took about 15 minutes pushing to restart because of a flat battery.
Ronnie McCartney, who had been having troubles all night, including a hole in the diff (plugged by a large self tapper), and a loose exhaust system, now was losing water through the head gasket and because of the latter with only a few miles to go he had to give up and miss the last control. The last passage control was scrubbed as a large lorry blocked the entrance to the road concerned and this enabled three crews to clean this section – Curley/Frazer, White/Hagan and McCourt/Saulters, a particularly good effort on the part of the latter crew.
David Agnew was next one minute down. Crews who spoiled their chances here were Farren/Taggart (down 19), Irwin/Winters (10), Conlon/Scott (28).
The last control was at Colum Devlin’s Garage on the Omagh-Cookstown Road and then breakfast was available at the Royal Arms Hotel.
The results were declared in Knock-na-moe Castle Hotel on Saturday night and showed that both Curley and White had cleaned the road navigation sections, but the former was much faster on. The special stages and was the winner.
The Scallon Cup proved to be a good combination of smooth, non-demaging stages and an enjoyable navigation section. The latter could have been a bit tighter, although there would have been only one car clean on the road, White, if the lorry had not blocked the last passage control.
Curley and Frazer had an easy win and confounded many of Curley’s critics who had said that he was only winning because he had the most powerful car. With a standard engine in the Escort he was nearly 5% quicker on the stages than the next man, and the car gave little trouble except for the well used gearbox protesting during the last few miles.
- C. B. Curley/Austin Frazer, Escort TC, 22.8 (0 on road);
- Ronnie White/Harold Hagan, CooperS, 30.5 (0);
- Jim Campbell/Brian Dorman, 998 Imp, 52.3 (17);
- Jimmy Reid/Frank O’Donoghue, Cooper S, 55.9 (16);
- Ronnie Reid/Alistair McConnell, 998 Imp, 60.2 (16);
- Ronnie McCartney/Ian McFarland, Escort, 60.3 (34);
- Mervyn Johnston/Paul Phelan, Cooper S, 66.8 (17);
- Ken Irwin/P. J. Winters, Cooper S, 67.9 (31).
- Agnew/Packenham, BMW 2002 TI, 85.2 (53);
- Conlon/Scott, EscortTC, 85.9 (31);
- Kennedy/Blainey, Escort GT, 116.9 (64);
- J.Kyle/G.Wilson, 1600E, 125.9 (68).
- E.Patterson/S.Baird, Datsun, 115.4 (50);
- K.Thompson/R.Thompson, Cooper, 171.9 (95);
- J.McGauran/R.Faughan, Cooper, 201.8 (143);
- J.O’Laughlin/Tom Daly, Elf, 213, (132);
- Lt. Bob Gardner/Capt. Somerville 217.4 (117);
- D.Scholes/A.G.Pentland, Mini, 228.4 (136).
ULSTER RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS
Cahal Curley 30;
Mervyn Johnston 28;
Ronnie White 24;
Jim Campbell 12;
=Jim Conlon 6;
=Ronnie Wilson 6.
There were two distasteful incidents involving spectators during the Scallon Cup Rally. First one concerned two cars that drove into a Forestry Commission Special Stage. One, a Morris 1100, actually had the nerve to come back and ask the time-keepers what his time was. The other car, a Morris 1000, had occupants who were so low minded as to change the directions of arrows on the stage in an attempt to send cars the wrong way. Omagh Motor Club intends to take strong action against these people.
The other case was when marshals and competitors were stoned during the Baronscourt stages by local teenagers. This is nothing new in this area — when following the Scallon Cup Rally last year I had stones thrown at my own car. This year the incident has been reported to the police.