1971 Circuit of Ireland

Adrian Boyd, winner of the Gallaher Circuit of Ireland, pictured with his wife, Sheevaun, at the conclusion of the rally in Larne yesterday.

This article reproduces a report which first appeared in the Irish Times, 14 April 1971.


ELEVEN YEARS after his first win in the event, Adrian Boyd, from Co. Antrim, drove into Larne yesterday afternoon to win the 1971 Gallaher International Circuit of Ireland Rally with Beatty Crawford in a works engined twin-cam Ford Escort.

The event finished in a blaze of glory for the home drivers because Billy Coleman, from Millstreet, Co. Cork, finished in a magnificent second place just fifteen minutes behind the leader. Chris Sclater from Cheshire, who led from the start, dashed his hopes of winning when he ditched his Escort RS 1600 at a 90-degree left-hander at Croaghan Hill, in Co. Donegal, early yesterday.

Sclater had already lost his lead to Boyd on the run through Connemara and Donegal prior to the supper stop at Rossapenna. But he incurred a maxim-um penalty at Croaghan Hill before he could get the car back on the road with the assistance of spectators.

This mistake gave Billy Coleman and his navigator, Dan O’Sullivan, the chance they had been waiting for since last Friday and they hurried through to second place despite brake trouble which had been bothering them all night, on their home-built and prepared machine. They pressed on to such good effect that they finished the event almost two marks ahead of
the experienced English crew and actually beat the bogey time on the last stage at Aughaboy. Co.Antrim, just before the finish.

Two other English teams, Barry Lee and John Coles, in another Escort and Will Sparrow with Nigel Raeburn in a Clubman Mini GT, took the next two places on the overall classification. Dubliners Noel Smith (Cooper S) and Cecil Vard (Porsche) took the next two places.

After the 1,500 mile event, run in fast, dry conditions all around the country, only 75 cars checked in at the finish control and many of those were in bad condition. Sue Sinclair and Jo Newman brought their ex-works Cooper in with a burned piston having free-wheeled as much as possible through the last two stages with blue smoke billowing from the back. However, their efforts were rewarded with the women’s prize captured from Isobel Thompson and Donna Reed, who drove a Fiat 850 in a money-raising effort for Belfast’s children’s charities.

The finishers list included four Swedes, the best being Lasse Johnsson in a Saab in ninth place, while
Henry Bosman from Holland was the only other Continental finisher in an Alfa-Romeo. Twenty-two Southern drivers completed the course and no less than three of these were in the top ten — Coleman, Smith and Vard.

There were 20 retirements on the last two stages from Galway to the Larne finish, the last of these being Paddy O‘Callaghan, from Kanturk, whose Volkswagen blew up within two miles of the end of the stage at Aughaboy, Co. Antrim, and within ten miles of the city. Swede Per Eklund finally retired his Saab at Banagher forest, in Co. Tyrone, with gearbox trouble, and Robin Eyre-Maunsell, from Belfast, another member of the top ten in Galway, went out with a broken transmission in Co. Donegal.

Cork man, John O‘Gorman, blew the engine of has Escort T/C at Truskmore, in Donegal, but his brother Greg kept the family flag high by finishing very well up on overall and second in his class to Barry Lee in another Escort.

The top 5 provisional Overall Results are:

1. A. Boyd/B. Crawford (Ford Escort T/C) 613.0 marks lost:
2. W. Coleman/D. 0‘Sullivan (Ford Escort T/C) 695.3:
3. C. Sclater/M. Holmes (Ford Escort RS1600) 705.2:
4. B. Lee/J. Coles (Ford Escort T/C) 742.42;
5. W. Sparrow/N. Raeburn (Mini Clubman GT) 112.3;