1967 Erne Safari – Win for “Team Forktune”

Photo: Bryce Sands
Dungannon based "Team Forktune" took the Team Award on the Erne Safari.

This report is reprinted from a newspaper clipping kindly provided by Jim Taggart.

Dungannon Motor Club Members score in 1967 Erne Safari.

Enniskillen Motor Club, on Friday night and Saturday morning last, held their Championship Rally, namely “The Erne Safari”.  This event attracted most of the local Dungannon rally competitors, either competing or manning as many as seven route checks and one time control around the popular rally vicinity of Knockmanny mountain near Augher.

Leaving Enniskillen at 10:01, the competitors making up Classes One, Two and Three started on their way to Control 1 near Trillick, and then through the narrow twisty roads around Fivemiletown to Control 2 at Knockmanny, where many Dungannon motoring enthusiasts turned out to wave on the local lads.

Control 3, North of Dromore, proved to be “just on” and only the fastest crews managed to keep free from penalty.  A time allowance of 1 hour was allowed between all controls except into Control 4, sited East of Pettigo, this being a 30m “quickie”.  Here three crews, including Ronnie White and Beatty Crawford managed to make this one on time, everybody else (including the eventual winner Robert McBurney) dropped at least two minutes.

Pettigo was where the competitors managed to get their first break, one hour being allowed to fill up with petrol and traverse the eight miles to Control 5 in County Donegal.  Here the pace began to hot up and only two crews, Mervyn Johnston / Mike Hart and Ronnie White / Beatty Crawford, managed to reach Control 6 on time.  Meanwhile in Class Three, run at a lower average speed, local Dungannon competitors Harold Reid / Robert Harkness and Wesley Abraham / Bryce Sands had incurred no penalty points so far.

The route into Control 7, an unmarked T-junction on a rough mountain section North of Beleek, had most crews up a very rough mountain track, and when they eventually reached Control 7, undoubtedly incurred total lateness in excess of the maximum, i.e. 30 minutes.  These included Ronnie White / Beatty Crawford, who were in the lead up until this point, and Norman Reid / Gordon Taggart who had been in fifth place. 

The route to Control 8 led back to the border when crews tackled 5 special stages before reaching Killadeas House Hotel for a well deserved breakfast.

When the results were announced the Dungannon boys had certainly won their share of the trophies.  Ronnie White / Beatty Crawford placed fourth in Class 1, Beatty substituting for Harold Hagan on this occasion due to Harold’s participation at the Ken Wharton Televised driving test in England.  Oliver Hadden, navigated by Brian Rickerby, were fifth in Class 1.

In Class 2, run at the same average speed as Class 1, Norman Reid / Gordon Taggart took third place.  In Class 3, Dungannon crews took first and second place with Harold Reid / Robert Harkness taking the win, and Wesley Abraham / Bryce Sands in second place.

Finally, the Dungannon Motor Club “Team Forktune” won the overall Team Award.  The team consisted of Norman Reid / Gordon Taggart, Sydney Meeke / John Beatty, and Milton Thom / Alistair McConnell. 

The Sydney Meeke Cortina looking pristine despite a long night’s rallying on both sides of the border. Photo Bryce Sands.


This report by Beatty Crawford appeared in Autosport magazine 10 Nov 1967.

ON 27th/28th October Enniskillen Motor Club staged their Erne Safari Rally, which was the fifth qualifying round in the Ulster Rally Championship. The route consisted of 240 miles of navigation, followed by 20 miles of special stages in five forests. For the first time in living memory the route of a Northern Ireland rally included a navigation section in Eire (although Newry MC set the pattern a couple of weeks ago when they ran a couple of stages in the Republic).

A late non-starter was Alec Poole, whose 1275S-engined MG 11OO broke a drive-shaft virtually on the start line in Enniskillen, and within three miles Neville Johnston put his Toyota onto its roof and could not continue; the field was further diminished when Ashley Armstrong’s Mini-Cooper lost its clutch after six miles.

The first hour was fairly easy and even after covering part of the route on foot, Ronnie Johnston/Peter Scott were almost in time Control 1, although their car was in a field a mile away. The second hour’s route, which headed east towards Clogher, was also easily ‘on’, but when Robert McBurney was
told he had 10 mins to cover one mile he promptly stuffed the car in a hedge and required the assistance of Ronnie White, Noel Smith and assorted locals to get out again.

Turning west again towards Dromore things got tighter, and Charles Eyre-Maunsell/Alec Spence were seen standing guard over a rather battered Hillman Hunter. The final half hour in the North was tighter still, and at the control near the Pettigo border crossing only Noel Smith, Ronnie White, Mervyn Johnston and Robin Eyre-Maunsell were on time, while McBurney lost a couple of minutes when he overshot the narrow white at 4/164651.

After crossing the border into Donegal there were two further superb hour navigation sections in a very compact area between Donegal town and Belleek, and here the situation changed dramatically. At the end of the first hour both Ronnie White/Beatty Crawford and Mervyn Johnston/Mike Hart were on time, while Noel Smith dropped time after getting a puncture on his new five-speed 1300 Renault Gordini.

McBurney also dropped three minutes when he dropped two wheels in the ditch trying to squeeze past the Renault, and again required assistance, that of Messrs Smith and Foott.

It was the final hour that really caused the slaughter, with White, Smith and Johnston getting themselves really lost in the final few miles, and at the start of the special stages Robert McBurney/Esler Crawford (Porsche-VW) found themselves in the lead with a loss of seven minutes, followed by Robin Eyre-Maunsell/Peter Thompson (Rallye Imp) with 15 mins an local boys Tom Daly/J. McCollum, who dropped 19 mins in their Corsair.

The first stage of nearly nine miles took in the scenic route at Lough Navar and here McBurney, after setting fastest time more than a minute faster than second man Hadden, discovered that he was completely without brakes, one of the wheel cylinders having broken ofi. Nevertheless he was only two seconds slower, using the handbrake, than Ronnie White on the two mile Conagher stage which followed, although he nearly carried Noel Smith’s Renault away as it was stopped at the end of the stage.

On the two-miler at Big Dog, McBurney’s slowing technique of putting the car sideways again worked wonders and he shared fastest time with White. On the longer and dodgy Ballintempo stage White was best followed by Robin Eyre-Maunsell and Oliver Hadden although McBurney did not drop all that much, even on the final 2.7 miler at Belmore he did not lose enough to be beaten either for overall best on the stages or the winning position in the rally which ended with breakfast at the Manor House Hotel, Killadeas.

Here the results were quickly announced by an efficient team, who also produced very professional progress bulletins during the course of the event

Wesley Abraham looks exhausted at the daylight finish of the 1967 Erne Safari, but his Cooper looks intact. Photo Bryce Sands.



  1. R. D. G. McBurney/Dr E. Crawford (Porsche-VW) 86.4;
  2. R. Eyre-Maunsell/P. G. Thompson (Hillman Rallye Imp), 118.3;
  3. O. Hadden/B. Rickerby (Mini-Cooper S) 138.1;
  4. T. Daly/Dr J McCollum (Ford Corsair) 140.2*;
  5. N. Smith/R Foott-(Renault Gordini 1300) 143.3;
  6. M. Martin/B. Saulters (Ford Cortina GT) 150.0;
  7. R. White/D B Crawford (Mini-Cooper S) 151.8;
  8. G. R. Baird/A: Walbridge (Hillman Imp) 157.0;
  9. H. N. Crawford/N. Smith (Ford Lotus Cortina) 175.2;
  10. M. Johnston/M. Hart (Mini-Cooper S) 189.8.