Report by Des Bradley which appeared in the Irish Times on 2 December 1974
Forde and Phelan take Midlands rally title.
GERRY FORDE and Paul Phelan gave Porsche their first championship rally win when they scored a narrow one-minute victory in the Smithwicks Circuit of the Midlands which finished in Longford early yesterday.
The 200 mile route led through 46 time controls and at the end, Championship leader Sean Campbell of Newry was navigated into second place by Derek Smyth in an almost standard Ford Escort RS 2000. This placing retains Campbell in the lead of the National Championship with only a single round to go. Third place yesterday was taken by John Tansey in another Porsche, navigated by local expert Derek Johnston and they finished four minutes behind.
Up to the midway petrol halt at Lanesboro, when the course lay entirely East of the Shannon, Ford and Phelan led for a loss of only one minute against three for Campbell and six for the leading Group 1 crew – Ray Murphy of Galway, with Brendan Doyle navigating in a Vauxhall Magnum. Tansey suffered minor car trouble on this leg and had dropped ten minutes, but during the second half through Roosky to Longford this Porsche set the best performance for a loss of only 17 marks, but this was not enough to overhaul the two leading crews.
Immediately after the restart, a section around Braknagh caused trouble with everybody and even Tansey/Johnston lost seven minutes. Frank Fennell and Ray Inglis, who had been contesting the Group l class in a Cooper S, had coil failure which cost them a time point and dropped them to tenth overall on the finishers list, whilst Murphy won the class in his Vauxhall, and was fourth place overall.
22 of the 27 starters were classified at the finish.
1. G.Forde/P.Phelan (Porsche Carrera): 22 minutes lost
2. S.Campbell/D.Smyth (Ford Escort R.S. 2000): 23
3. J.Tansey/D.Johnston (Porsche Carrera): 27
4. R.Murphy/B.Doyle (Vauxhall Magnum): 29
5, T.Donnelly/P.Scott (B.L. Cooper S): 35
6. J.Farrell/C.Farrell (Ford Escort R.S. 2000): 44
7. G.McNamara/L.Fannin (Ford Escort B.D.A.): 53
8. J.McCreesh/J.French (Ford Escort 2000): 95
9. M.Breslin/H.Inglis (Vauxhall Viva G.T.): 100
10. F.Fennell/R.Inglis (Cooper S.): 116.