Omagh Motor Club Pre-Circuit Preview
The motorsport action starts tonight with the Omagh Motor Club‘s fourth round of the Northern Ireland road rally series. The entry list is headed by the Escort RS2000 of John Jones who has former champion navigator Mike Hart, a local expert, alongside him.
Robert Copeland and Peter Scott are at No 2 in another Escort RS2000, followed by the Sunbeam of Trevor Haydock and Brian Rowan while current champions and 1980 series leaders Fred Crawford and Drew Todd at No. 4 in yet another Escort RS2000.
The Allen brothers, John and Jackson, still searching for the reliability to match the speed of their new Escort, are seeded at number 5.
Listed in the top 10 too are Kevin O’Kane and Godfrey Crawford, but whether they make it or not will depend on completing their car in time. Kevin has bought a new Lotus engine and gearbox and is trying to fit it into his Avenger Tiger!
Copeland and Scott score Omagh win.
ROBERT Copeland and Peter Scott, in the Yokohama backed Ford Escort RS2000, were the winners of last night’s Pre-Circuit Rally, third round of the 1980 Northern Ireland road rally championship.
They finished some three minutes ahead of the Escorts of Jimmy Logan/Derek Ervine and Tommy Speers/Joe Law in the Omagh club round.
Rally favourites, and championship leaders, Fred Crawford and Drew Todd were in second place until near the end when a small fire started in their Escort and they dropped to seventh place.
The rally received a disappointingly small entry of only about 30 cars but nonetheless all the top championship contenders were in the top seeds.
In accordance with the agreement for 1980 on seeding, it was the turn of John Jones, navigated by top local man Mike Hart, to lead the entry and running at No 2 were Copeland and Scott, the latter crew having only just managed to make the start. Mechanic Harry Drain had been working flat out to fit a new suspension and only had it ready just in time.
The first section of the rally was in the Clanabogan area and immediately Copeland/Scott and the Allen brothers – hoping to break their bad luck record – took an immediate lead followed by Crawford/Todd and Logan/Ervine.
As the rally went into the Seskinore area, top seed Jones became the first retirement with mechanical problems and soon afterwards Trevor Haydock and Brian Rowan (Sunbeam), who were lying in second place in the series, joined the spectators.
The first petrol halt was at Drumnakilly and all the leading cars were well behind schedule, largely on account of one of the official watches being set 20 minutes adrift, and this made life particularly difficult for the late runners. At the halt, Copeland/Scott were leading by a minute from Crawford/Todd with Logan/Ervine and the Allen brothers tying for third. Speers/Law were tying for 5th place with Tommy Reid/Paul Phelan who were having a run out on a navigation rally for the first time in many months.
The second half of the event went into the Mountfieid and Gortin Glen areas and Crawford was in trouble with a small engine ﬁre. Stopping to extinguish it cost him 10 minutes and five places.
Logan was off the road for a few minutes and very nearly lost his second place to Speers who was pulling up the field. Jackson Allen was having a very rare night off and a couple of over-shoots left them only lying in 4th place, but nonetheless he made it to the finish.
At the end it appeared a number of crews would be penalised for not stopping at give-way signs, but the organisers had unfortunately (for them) omitted to give the compulsory list of locations and the penalties had to be deleted.
- Robert Copeland/Peter Scott (RS2000) 32;
- James Logan/Derek Ervine (RS2000) 35;
- Tommy Speers/Joe Law (RS2000) 35;
- John and Jackson Allen (RS2000) 37;
- Tommy Reid/Paul Phe1an (RS2000) 39;
- Kenny McKinstry/John McGaffin (RS2000) 40;
- Fred Crawford/Drew Tedd (RS2000) 43;
- Norman Kittle/Dessie Wilson (RS2000) 47;
- Ronnie Beggs/Bob Foster (Avenger) 61
- Jimmy Lyons/John McCaffrey (Sunbeam) 62.
Report a week later just before the next event.
The third round of the 1980 Northern Ireland Road Rally Championship was the Omagh Motor Club‘s Pre-Circuit event. It was won by Toome driver Robert Copeland, navigated by Peter Scott. The Newtownabbey crew of Jimmy Lagan and Derek Ervine were second with Tommy Speers and Joe Law from Portglenone third. All three crews drove Escort RS2000s.
Early retirements during the first half of the rally were the Sunbeam of Trevor Haydock and Brian Rowan and the Escort of John Jones and Mike Hart. At the petrol halt, Copeland and Scott were leading by a minute from championship leaders, Fred Crawford and Drew Todd, who were having brake problems in their RS2000. Logan and Ervine were tying for third place with the Allen brothers in another RS2000. Tommy Spears and Joe Law were tying for 5th with Tommy Raid and Paul Phelan, both crews also in RS2000s.
After petrol, Crawford’s brakes were much better and as he was about to try to overhaul the leaders, one of the carburettors developed a leak causing a fire in the engine compartment. The crew lost ten minutes getting back on the road. At the finish outside Omagh, Copeland and Scott had increased their lead over Logan and Ervine, with Speers and Law moving ahead of the Allens with Tommy Reid fifth.
Kenny McKinstry and John McGaffin finished sixth with Crawford and Todd dropping from a top placing to seventh. The Comber crew of Norman Kittle and Dessie Wilson were eighth in their RS2000 and the Avenger of Bangor crew Ronnie Beggs and Bob Foster finished ninth.
The fourth round of the Championship is tonight’s Circuit of Down organised by the Newry Motor Club. This event starts outside Lisburn and finishes in Banbridge.