1976 Newry Mourne Rally

Article reproduced from Motoring News 14th October 1976
Report by Unknown, Photos by D. Smyth.

Campbell comes out on top.

WEATHER conditions for Newry MC’s Mourne Forests rally made the going extremely difficult, but Sean Campbell, partnered as usual by his wife Yvonne, picked his way carefully through the treacherously narrow forest lanes to bring his Gp I RS2000 home almost a minute ahead of David Lindsay in his RS1800. This was Campbell’s first outright win of the Belfast
Telegraph championship, and yet again Gp I cars claimed the majority of the top places.

The event was the second in the series to be run solely at night and started from Lindsay Cars in Lisburn, whose owner, David Lindsay, headed the field towards a series of forest stages in the mountains of Mourne. He was followed by the regulars (with the notable exception of Ronnie McCartney) with Robert McBurney’s Porsche-VW at two, Paul Martin’s RS160O three, and Dessie McCartney in his forest Porsche at four. Eventual winner, Sean Campbell was at five, just ahead of David Agnew in the ex-Warmbold BMW. At number ten was William Hunter, in a very much Group 1 RS2000. Like Paul Martin and Sean Campbell he carried Bluematic Heating sponsorship.

David Lindsay and David Sandford led the field away from Lindsay Cars in Lisburn and would finish second overall behind the flying Sean Campbell.

Hunter began by taking second fastest time on the first stage, beaten by McBurney’s VW. The second stage, a repeat of the first, saw McBurney partially off the road, delaying both Paul Martin and Des McCartney so long that they could not recover. Enniskillen driver, Ernest Kidney, in his Permapost RS1600, clipped a rock and was forced to join the other dozen or so retirements on the first two stages.

Despite the slippery conditions, Hunter was fastest the second time around with Campbell and Lindsay next. The fourth stage had to be cancelled after a spectator tripped over a wire which activated the timing mechanism and rendered it inoperative. It was repaired for the second run!

The sensation of the evening would be Willie Hunter in his very standard RS2000.

At the start of stage five, positions showed Hunter to be one second ahead of Campbell, and three ahead of Lindsay, in fifth place was Robin Lyons whose Avenger was being driven in fine style, and whose eventual third place did this talented driver great credit.

Hunter was again fastest on stage five, Rostrevor Forest – ten minutes of tarmac and forest mixed, but his run came to a premature halt on stage seven when he hit a tree and damaged the front badly enough to put him into the retirement list. Lyons was fastest on eight, which was sufficient to have him in third place behind Campbell and Lindsay.

Robert McBurney in his purposeful looking “VW-Porschewagen” slipped off the road on SS2 and caused a delay for both McCartney and Martin.

Stage nine was at Rostrevor Forest again with the weather conditions no better and visibility a bit poorer. Despite a puncture near the end, Campbell was fastest by an impressive 21 seconds from Lindsay. Robin Lyons drove two miles on a flat rear tyre and still came fifth fastest.

Stages eleven and twelve were the same, run in the same manner as the first and second. This considerably reduced road mileage and wasn’t the disaster predicted by some. Dessie McCartney and Paul Martin had worked their way back up to eighth and ninth respectively, although only occasionally appearing in the fastest five.

Paul Martin and John Hunter couldn’t recover from the SS2 delay, taking 9th Overall at the end of the event.

David Lindsay retains his championship lead with his second place, and Sean Campbell moves up to fourth overall. The event saw brilliant performances by Robin Lyons, and of course William Hunter. Dessie McCartney’s championship chances were reduced by his second stage delay, whilst a steady drive by David Agnew in the “Minty Stripe“ BMW leaves him in third place in the series.

Ernest Kidney and Nicky Moffett in the immaculate Permapost RS1600.


  1. S.Campbell/Mrs.Y.Campbell (RS2000) 47.12;
  2. D.Lindsay/D.Sandford (RS1800) 48.10;
  3. R.Lyons/S.McCanny (Avenger Gp I) 48.42;
  4. J.Logan/P.Irvine (RS2000) 49.01;
  5. F.Crawford/T.Speers (RS2000) 49.05;
  6. D.Agnew/R.Harkness (BMW) 50.11;
  7. D.Boyd/R.Kernohan (Saab 96) 50.35;
  8. D.McCartney/T.Harryman (Porsche) 50.44;
  9. P.Martin/J.Hunter (RS1600) 52.09;
  10. F.Patterson/J.McAlorum (RS2000) 52.30.