1974 Tour of the Sperrins

Lisburn's David Lindsay fighting for grip en route to his first success.

David Lindsay takes Maiden Win.

This report by Brian Dorman first appeared in Wheels Magazine dated May 1974.

The Lombard & Ulster Tour of the Sperrins, the first event to be run since the lifting of restrictions on rallying, saw David Lindsay/ Duffy Cunningham gaining their first-ever rally win. In their Escort RS1700 they finished 36 seconds ahead of the Porsche Carrera RS of Ronnie McCartney/Peter Scott.

David Agnew/ Robert Harkness in the BMW finished third, another 4 seconds in arrears on an event which became very closely contested after early leader Adrian Boyd rolled out of the rally on the fifth stage. In fourth place after a tremendous drive came semi-experts Fred Crawford/Liam Kelly in an RS1600, on Crawford’s second ever stage rally.

The event was put together in only three weeks by Mid-Antrim Motor Club and Coleraine Motor Club under Clerk of the Course Roy Sloan, and was of a high standard despite the very short time available.

Predictably enough after the enforced layoff there was quite a rush for entries, and eventually 100 crews started on the 120 mile route which took in eight special stages, mainly forest, totalling 40 miles.

The entry was headed by Adrian Boyd and Frank Main in Lombard and Ulster‘s ex-Roger Clark Escort RS1600, followed by David Lindsay/Duffy Cunningham in the Northern Excavators/Lindsay Cars Escort RS1700. Dessie McCartney/Drexel Gillespie were next up in the Alpina BMW. Pat McCourt, seeded at No. 4, was a non-starter so next away was the 2.2 VW Beetle of Robert McBurney/Norman Smith, ahead of the lightweight BMW of David Agnew/Robert Harkness and Ronnie McCartney/Peter Scott in the Porsche Carrera RS.

Hugh O’Brien/ Eamonn O’Hagan were at No. 8 in the ex-Safari Escort TC while at No. 9 came the second Lombard and Ulster entry, the Escort RS1700 of Derek Boyd/ Charlie Crawford. Both team cars were trying out two-way radios for the first time, although Adrian did his best to knock his aerial off the roof. The top ten was completed by Sean Campbell using his road-going Capri after the Mexico he was entered in burnt a valve the previous night.

From the 10 a.m. start at the Brown Trout Inn a 25 mile run led to the first stage, 4.5 miles in Glenshane Forest. After Glenshane, Boyd had moved into an immediate lead, being 13 secs. quicker than next man Ronnie McCartney. Dessie McCartney lost some time here when he put a wheel over the edge turning round after a spin.

Also in trouble was Robert McBurney whose luck with the Beetle does not seem to be improving – a broken rocker forcing his retirement although he had a go at some of the later stages after effecting repairs. The highest seeded of the Minis, Trevor Fleming, now navigated by Brian Rowan, broke a brake pipe and although repairs were carried out before the next stage, the brakes continued to be troublesome for the remainder of the event.

Roy Kernaghan broke a doughnut first time out with his recently acquired Imp, while brother Mike in the Supercharged VW Beetle had the first of a number of offs. Navigating for Mike was Belfast Telegraph motoring correspondent Sammy Hamill having his first taste of rallying. Surprisingly, he wants to do it again!

Much credit is due to the organising clubs for putting on such a well run event in only three weeks, in particular Clerk of the Course Roy Sloan, Secretary of the meeting Anne McLean, and chief marshal Bobby Smith, giving his knobbly tyres their annual airing.


  1. David Lindsay/Duffy Cunningham (Escort RS1700) 47-35
  2. Ronnie McCartney/Peter Scott (Porsche Carrera) 48-11
  3. David Agnew/Robert Harkness (BMW 2002Ti) 48-15
  4. Fred Crawford/Liam Kelly (Escort RS1600) 49-30
  5. Hugh O’Brien/Eamon O’Hagan (Escort TC) 49-44
  6. Paul Martin/Lawrence Reavy (Escort TC) 50-10
  7. Derek Boyd/Charles Crawford (Escort RS1700) 50-17
  8. Dessie McCartney/Drexel Gillespie (BMW 2002Ti) 50-19
  9. John McAlorum/Victor Armstrong (BMW 2002Ti) 51-04
  10. Mike F-Hutchinson/Mrs M. F-Hutchinson (Cooper S) 51-26