1962 Circuit of Ireland – Autosport

This article is reproduced from AUTOSPORT, May 4, 1962


A Win for Paddy Hopkirk (Sunbeam) for the Second Year


AFTER a delay of 36 hours, during which the differential of his car was removed and examined by R.A.C. scrutineers as the result of a protest, it was officially announced that Paddy Hopkirk, in a works-entered Sunbeam Rapier, had won the Circuit of Ireland International Rally for the second year in succession. Hopkirk now becomes the only driver ever to win this event three times, having finished first in general classification also in 1958 when driving a Triumph.

The young Belfast driver was placed first when the provisional results were made public a few hours after the end of the rally, but officials of the Ulster Automobile Club refused to hand over his awards, which included the AUTOSPORT Trophy, until they had considered a protest lodged by another competitor.

Voluntarily Hopkirk handed over the car to the club, and the following day scrutineers had the back axle dismantled, paying particular attention to the differential. After the examination, it was announced by the club that the protest had been withdrawn and that Hopkirk was the undoubted winner.

Despite a protest concerning the overdrive on the works Sunbeam Rapier, Paddy Hopkirk and Jack Scott emerged as overall victors for the second year running. The Rapier’s pictured climbing the Tim Healy Pass.

Second place in general classification went to Cecil Vard and Dudley Reynolds from Dublin, who were, in fact, leading the rally at the end of the third stage in an Austin Mini. Third place was taken by Bobby Parkes from Manchester in his Healey 3000, while fourth place went to Roger Clark driving an Austin Cooper.

The teams filling these four leading positions also won their respective classes, which is an indication of just how well the present system of marking used by the U.A.C. in this event works.

Other class winners in the overall results were F.P. Johnston of Omagh in a Sprite, who won the section for Grand Touring cars up to 1,300 c.c., and D. A. Davis from Bedworth who was best in the Touring Class for all types of cars, driving a 997 c.c. Ford Anglia. The one-make team prize went to the Austin Coopers of Clark, Robert Pinkerton and Cecil Molyneaux, while the Ladies’ Trophy was collected by Mrs Joan Noble and Miss Pat Egan in a Morris Cooper.

In an attempt to sort out the rally “on the road”, the organizers included much more navigation in this year’s event but there were still many teams that finished with a clean sheet. This was partly due to the fact that the Royal Irish Automobile Club stipulated that the minimum speed for any section over unclassified roads must be at least 24 m.p.h., and to the fact that the standard of navigation had improved considerably among local teams during the last 12 months.

Friday, 20th April/Saturday, 21st April

The rally, which this year was receiving financial assistance for the first time from Lombank, started off as usual on Friday night from controls in Belfast and Omagh in the North of Ireland, and Dublin in the South, to converge on the little County Armagh village of Camlough for the first control. This was a straightforward run for the 94 starters over main roads, but trouble set in right away for D. J. Sheedy and Dr Gar O’Brien, who had the windscreen of their Austin Mini shattered by a flying stone only five miles out from the Dublin control. They were, however, among the finishers at Bangor four days and 1,500 miles later.

The first special section of the rally started at this control with 10 optional checks and a time point to be visited, followed by another control and seven time points. These kept navigators busy through the “wee small hours” of the morning before crossing the frontier post into Eire at Belcoo and heading for Sligo for a welcome breakfast stop. From talk over the bacon and eggs, it was gathered that among those who had been successful during the night were Hopkirk and his navigator Jack Scott, the Austin Cooper team of Clark, Pinkerton and Molyneaux, Sydney Allard in his Ford Anglia and J. Chitty in his Rapier. John Chesney spent all his breakfast hour replacing a windscreen in his Vauxhall which was another victim of a flying stone, while Miss Pat Barr and her navigator Sheila Aldersmith were feeling very disheartened after ‘being more than an hour late at one of the night controls’ and excluded from the finishers list. One competitor who did not arrive at all was D. McManus, whose Austin-Healey Sprite left the straight and narrow a few yards following the last night control on a very easy section to the breakfast halt.

From Sligo, the cars headed south-west to a control and driving test at Cully Cross Roads in the Ox Mountains, where Robert McBurney (Volkswagen) and Adrian Boyd (Sprite) shared the honours for the fastest time of the day recorded at 25.8 secs. In his class, Hopkirk dropped a full mark by being one second slower than Frank Robinson’s 1500 Volkswagen which clocked 26.2 secs.

The next test was a hill-climb near Lough Nafooey in the beautiful Joyce country where Hopkirk set about demonstrating just how potent the Rapier was by returning the fastest time of the day at 70.2 secs. A remarkable climb was made by Wilbert Todd, driving his 1,221 c.c. Skoda, who took only a second more than Hopkirk, while other good climbs were recorded by Johnston (Sprite), 70.8 secs., Bobby Parkes (Healey 3000), 72 secs., and Charles Eyre-Maunsell (Alpine), 72.2 secs.

In his Austin-Cooper S at the Killarney control, Roy Pinkerton was second in his class behind Roger Clark who drove a similar car.

To keep the navigators happy, the organisers threw in another special section with six time-points, a check at Castleconnell Garda Station, and a couple of controls before the next manoeuvrability test at a point outside Newcastle West, which the young Volkswagen driver Robert Woodside has cause to, remember for many a day. After going extremely well up to this point he was unfortunate to lose reverse gear and was forced out of the rally. Good times here were recorded by McBurney and R. J. McCartney (Volkswagen) with 24 secs. each. Cecil Vard shared a time of 24.6 secs with Kevin Sherry (Volkswagen), a previous Circuit of Ireland winner.

There was yet another speed event at Tralee – the second hill-climb of the day – before drivers reached the end of the first stage at Killarney. On this hill, Parkes was fastest with 87.4 secs., followed by Hopkirk with 90 secs, and Chitty’s Rapier, being driven by John La Trobe, with 94.6 secs.

Thanks to Lombank and a hard-worked press officer, Jack Nihill, competitors who gathered in the rally headquarters in Killarney later that night were kept well informed of all interesting news by the issue of frequent bulletins containing test times and tit-bits about the event. It was from one of these bulletins issued near midnight that competitors learned that the rally was being led at the end of the first stage by Hopkirk with 1.6 marks. Second was Adrian Boyd with 2.4 marks and third was Ian Woodside with 8.0 marks. Vard was credited on the result sheet with 61.4 marks, but there had obviously been some miscalculation, for the next day it was changed to 5.4 marks to bring him into third place in the overall placings.

Sunday, 22nd April

As the cars left Killarney in the dawn of Sunday morning it was obvious that Hopkirk would have to fight strongly throughout the day to retain his slender lead over Boyd. After two rather easy time-points, the first test was a speed event at Ballaghabeama, up and down over a narrow twisty road for almost two miles. This was followed by another special section with two time-points over tracks which were about the roughest encountered throughout the event. It was on this section that two of the three Austin Coopers holed their sumps. While making some hasty repairs Roger Clark lost 20 marks in the section but managed to reach the next control on time to find his team-mate Molyneaux busy pouring quarts of Castrol into his car. These 20 marks, in fact, cost Clark third place in the overall results at the end of the rally.

Easily the best test of the Sunday stage was the long hill-climb up the Tim Healy Pass – a highlight in every Circuit of Ireland – where the best time was recorded by Parkes with 3 mins. 12.8 secs. He was followed by Boyd with 3 mins. 13.2 secs., Ian Woodside recorded 3 mins. 14.6 secs, and Hopkirk 3 mins. 19 secs.

One of the ‘thrills of the day at Tim Healy was provided by Sydney Allard who, while making a very rapid ascent in his Anglia, rolled the car on its side on the last right-hand bend. Willing hands were soon on the scene to help him lift the car on to its wheels again and he continued to the top before incurring the maximum penalty of 300 marks, and only about 90secs, slower than Parkes!

The rest of the Sunday run contained two more special stages with five time points in each and two driving tests, one of which cost Hopkirk valuable marks when he was forced to take a second “cut” when reversing ‘between two pylons’.

It was later that night in Killarney that officials announced Boyd had taken the lead in the rally with 3.6 marks followed by Hopkirk with 4.4 marks and Vard with 5.6 marks. Fourth place was being occupied by Ian Woodside with 12.4 marks, but both Boyd and Woodside were in for a dramatic shock when they examined the results the following morning, for during the night officials had again been re-checking and it was found that both these drivers, as well as several other competitors in the rally, had checked in too early at the Tim Healy control during the second stage. All were penalized 100 marks which knocked them completely out of the running and brought Hopkirk back again into first place, now with a slender lead over Vard. Another driver to lose marks in this way at the same control was Miss Rosemary Smith (Alpine) who seemed all set to carry off the Ladies’ Trophy for the third successive year.

Cornering with the tail of their Sunbeam Alpine well out are Miss Rosemary Smith and Mrs. Delphine Bigger on the Tralee Hill-Climb.

Monday, 23rd April

ON Monday morning the first car left the Killarney control before 7 a.m. on the start of the return journey north again. The first event of the day was a driving test followed by the fourth hill-climb of the rally at Carrigeenina just south of Tipperary. This climb was followed by yet another special section with nine time-points, a driving test at Banagher and one near Taghshinny, followed by a 26-mile Tulip Rally-type section which seemed to prove very little when held during daylight.

The next control was near Boyle, and during this section many competitors took the opportunity of having a meal in the local hotel which contained a few remaining guests from what must have been a very enjoyable wedding party. One such gentleman, who Jack Scott was introducing to his friends as Mr Norman Garrad, tried his best to get Paddy Hopkirk to entertain the assembled gathering but the Rapier driver seemed at this stage to have nothing to sing about.

But if he couldn’t sing, Hopkirk was nevertheless second fastest at the next hill-climb with a time of 53.6 secs., 2.2 secs. slower than Parkes who, in fact, had the disadvantage of climbing the hill during a sudden downpour. Other good times on this hill – where the Rapier driven by Brian Waddell was forced out with a broken crown wheel and pinion – were put up by Charles Eyre-Maunsell, 54 secs., and Hugh O’Connor-Rourke (Triumph) who recorded 54.8 secs.

Four more optional cheeks had to be visited by those drivers left who were seriously fighting for awards before the cars checked into the Londonderry control. Among those who had fallen by the wayside during the day’s motoring were Ronnie Adams’s son Michael, who broke a half shaft in his Herald, and Michael Ivis, whose gearbox packed up in the Austin Mini.

Tuesday, 24th April

Although no official placings were announced during the night, at Londonderry it now seemed that Vard might have snatched the lead from Hopkirk and that there could well be a photo-finish at the final tests in Bangor.

Right away from the Londonderry control the officials threw in a short special section which caught out a number of competitors and, in fact, Vard here lost four precious marks. This was followed by a driving test, more time points and a quick dash to Kirkistown airfield for three timed laps of the circuit – driving in the opposite direction to which everyone had anticipated.

The first of the two final driving tests in Bangor was a dull affair from a spectator’s point of view – an unfortunate selection when such a large crowd had turned out to see some spectacular driving. Here again, Vard lost marks when he had to line up his car for a second time to get into a rather narrow garage. The final braking test, however, was, as usual, very exciting, with Hopkirk putting in a terrific performance, and Vard losing 13.6 marks to Ray Noble who was best in the small saloon class.


General Classification  —  Lombank and U.A.C. Trophies: 

  1. P. B. Hopkirk/J. Scott (Rapier). 11.5 marks lost; 
  2. C. Vard/D. Reynolds (Austin 848 c.c.), 28.2: 
  3. G. H. F. Parkes/G. W. Howarth (Healey 3000), 41.8; 
  4. R. A. Clark/J. Porter (Austin 997 cc.), 44.4; 
  5. R. L. D. Pinkerton/H. Patton (Austin 997 cc.). 70.1; 
  6. M. J. O’Mahoney/R. H. Tilson (Volkswagen 1,192 c.c.), 74.8.

Touring Cars

Up to 850 c.c.: 1, C. Vard; 2, J. W. Emerson/B. Doyle (Morris 848 c.c.), 175.7; 3, N. T. Smith/I. L. Conway (NSU 583 c.c.). 210.7. 

850 c.c. to 1,300 cc.: 1, Clark; 2, Pinkerton; 3, O’Mahoney. 

1,300 c.c. to 1,600 c.c.: 1, Hopkirk; 2, F. A. Robinson/I. R. Davidson (Volkswagen 1,493 cc.). 83.2; 3. J. R. McSpadden/I. L. Armstrong (Volkswagen 1,493 c.c.). 116.7.

Grand Touring

Up to 1,300 c.c.: 1, F. P. Johnston/I. D. Turkington (Sprite 995 cc.). 113.8; 2, A. J. L. Boyd/M. N. Johnston (Sprite 960 cc.), 116.8; 3, J. Fildes/Miss S. O’Cleary (MG. 948 c.c.), 142.6. 

Over 1.360 c.c.: 1, Parkes; 2, I. Woodside/E. Crawford (Sprite s/c 995 c.c.). 133.5; 3, C. A. Gunn/B. Cusack (MG. 1,588 c.c.). 194.6. 

Touring Class—Open to all types of cars: 1. D. A. Davis/C. Hicks (Ford 997 c.c.). 75.4; 2, R. D. C. Turner/D. Abbott (Triumph 948 cc.). 334; 3, J. Armstrong/W. R. Robinson (Austin 848 c.c.), 478.2.

One-Make Team: Austin-Cooper (Clark, Pinkerton. Molyneaux).

Team Award and Club Team: McBurney, Robinson, McSpadden.