1970 Circuit – MotorWeek.

Roger Clark and Jim Porter seemed to have no difficulty claiming their third Circuit win in a row.

KING ROGER – Clark rules best Circuit yet.

This report by Richard Young and photos by Esler Crawford appeared in MotorWeek dated April 4th 1970.

As everybody secretly expected, the 1970 Gallaher Circuit of Ireland provided Roger Clark with his third win in as many years, and established him as the new “King of the Circuit”.

This year, for the first time, there was a really strong challenge from Sweden, with several cars making the trip for the event, but with Jerry Larsson non-starting his Porsche (the one car that might have provided a challenge to Clark’s Escort BDA), the Leicestershire driver had things very much his own way for most of the event.

Lasse Jonsson has a tight line for one of Aughaboy’s bends on Tuesday morning.

In fact, the “Circuit“ this year was a real Ford walkover, and, after Barry Lee had held a very fine second place for most of the event, only to break the crank of his very rapid, self prepared Escort TC, Londoner Chris Sclater, a very rapid driver, who was seeded surprisingly low down the field, took the honours with his similar car.

Cahal Curley‘s Escort displays a bit of understeer at Ardgroom. The car performed very well when South of the border, but when in Ulster, appeared to suffer from all manner of annoying problems.

Of the local favourites, both Cahal Curley and Adrian Boyd suffered dire misfortunes with their Escorts, Curley’s car apparently disliking the air north of the border, for, on the first special section, at Strangford Lough, the throttle cable broke, and Cahal “drove” the stage lying on the bonnet working the throttle by hand, while navigator Austin Frazer steered the beast. Austin said afterwards that things Were particularly hairy when they met up with other traffic on the nine mile section!

Poor Roy Fidler was forced to retire on Sunday after going very well in the Autoextra BMW 2002. Appropriately enough he went out on Cod’s Head peninsula.

From there until the border, the pair met up with all sorts of electrical bothers, but these cleared up on Saturday and Sunday, and the familiar, yellow Escort ran like a clock on the famous “Sunday Run”, only to fall foul of the dreaded hoodoo once the border was re-crossed on Monday evening, this time with a cracked cylinder wall, which enforced their retirement Most unfortunate, since, despite their troubles, they were in fourth place at the time.

Noel Smith and Ricky Foott made it to fourth place before a broken idler gear put them out of the running. Here the ex-racing Hornet takes one of the faster bends at Gortnagane.


Adrian Boyd was tipped by many to give Roger Clark a run for his money, but things didn’t work out like that, and suspension bothers, together with a slight off course excursion, kept him out of the running. One local driver who did do well was Robert McBurney, who seems to have defeated the evil spirits which followed his BMW around the place last year, possibly by changing the colour, and he had a very encouraging run to finish well into the top ten at No. 4.

Rallycross expert Barry Lee drove far better than anybody expected him to and was a secure second when his crankshaft broke, forcing his retirement.

The Swedish visitors, in general, were extremely hairy, and their tendency to motor sideways, and even backwards on every conceivable occasion brought about the downfall of many, not to mention several service cars as well! Of those‘ who remained on the island, Lasse Jonsson (Saab) and Jan Henriksson (Opel) were very impressive, and both finished well up in the honours list.

Morrow McIlroy and Miss Mary Donnelly head their Group One Imp through Fahiryland.


The route, of course, followed much the same pattern as last year’s, and from the crowded start area at Bangor (where most of the cars started off beside the large starting ramp, rather than off it), it was a short haul to SS1 at Strangford, the immensely popular stage along the shores of the Lough which as usual, was jam packed with spectators.

Clark the invincible shows how it should be done on Gortnagane.

Clark was quickest here, and this set the scene for the rest of the event, the 1800 cc, four valve, 180 bhp Escort, with its five speed gearbox, four wheel disc brakes, and, surprisingly, left hand drive, proving far superior to most things.

Jan Henrikksson and Lars Carlstrom take the rather frilly Opel Kadett through Aughaboy on Tuesday morning. Note the kinky wheel angles.

Not surprisingly, local Comber men were well represented in the top ten on this stage. Dennis McKeag actually getting his Escort TC into second fastest spot behind the meteoric Clark, although there were those who suggested that McKeag would have been considerably quicker than the works Escort, if he’d had his lorry with him instead of the car!

Jim Cathcart takes his Cooper through a left hander.


Tom Lawther, with his Jet propelled Mini Cooper S was also well up here, and the tales of over exuberance on this one stage would fill an entire volume. Most spectacular of all was Robin Eyre-Maunsell, who scared many of the spectators in Ardmillan village to death on his way through, and then rolled the Imp a little further down the road, fortunately with little damage.

Best local performer was Robert McBurney, who has at last got the BMW to behave itself for him. Here he and co-driver Norman Smith tackle Ardgroom on the Sunday run.

The rest of the night’s motoring to Blessington was relatively quiet, although several people did manage to get themselves over several hedges, most unfortunate being Messrs. Brown and Parker from Scotland, who did an enormous “Ooh Nasty” to their almost brand new Cooper on the Sorrel Hill section just before breakfast, seemingly in the middle of a particular1y straight piece of road.

The Kerr-Gillespie Cortina, which must have the widest wheels yet seen on a Mk1 Cortina, takes the Ford at Coan in grand style.

Several of the Swedish visitors also managed to depart during the first night, as did one of their Service cars, which was seen on its side near Blessington, looking rather out of it all!

Lasse Jonsso*n’s Saab appears to be rather second hand looking at Gortnagane on Saturday afternoon.

From Blessington to Killarney, things went reasonably smoothly at the top of the field, although SS17 at Rochestown had to be cancelled following an enormous shunt by Phil Cooper and Chris Nash, whose Mini did some quite horriffic things.

The idea of “Sweep“ cars was a good one. Here Charles Eyre Maunsell, the only really rapid sweeper, takes his Rapier H120 through Coan.

SS18, too, was scrubbed when a forest fire developed at the wooded bit of Cannon Wood, but through it all, Clark remained securely in front, with Barry Lee snapping at his heels and proving that Rallycross is pretty good training for this sort of thing.

John Bridges was very well placed on Monday when he broke his gearbox on the ex-Brennan Cooper.

Poor Adrian Boyd, who should, by rights have been up with the top men, was paying the price for going off the previous night, and although his Stage times on Saturday were very good, he was no longer at the top of the leader board.


The famous Sunday run was its usual spectacular self, and Clark covered himself with another layer of glory, but going very rapidly indeed, to pick up the award for fastest on Stage Three (The Sunday Run).

Jan “Devil“ Henriksson takes the very rapid Opel through Fahiry on Sunday afternoon.

By this time, the field was sadly depleted, and out of the 180 starters, barely 70 re-started from Killarney on the long haul up to Enniskillen. More problems in the Limerick area brought about a very relaxed section in the middle of the day, but despite this many top names disappeared from the list of runners, including Noel Smith, who had had his Wolseley Hornet as high as fourth on occasions,

One of the big surprises was the way in which Arthur Fowkes motored his Mk1 Lotus Cortina up to ninth place by the finish.

Charlie Gunn, who was also fighting hard with his Escort, and John Bridges whose Cooper gave up the ghost, not to mention Cahal Curley, of course, whose Escort fell foul of the afore- mentioned “Border Bogey“.


Out into Donegal on Monday night, and even fewer cars were left. Poor Pat Fay was involved in an accident with a non competing car while leading class 3, and several others, including Barry Lee, who went out with a broken crankshaft early on Tuesday morning, failed, just when success was within their grasp.

Barry Lee looks mildly apprehensive, while co-driver, John Coles appears quite unmoved by the ”jump” at Hamilton’s Folly.

Roger Clark, however, didn’t fail, and arrived in Larne on Tuesday, victorious, and well ahead of second man Chris Sclater, who had driven an excellent rally in what looked very like the car Clark used to win last year. Jan Henrikkson, one of four Swedes to finish, made it to third place in his hairily driven Opel Rally Kadett, with Robert McBurney a really excellent fourth.

Noel Smith’s Bostik-sponsored Wolseley Hornet, becomes slightly ”unstuck” at Coan on Saturday morning.

Lasse Jonsson brought his, semi-works Saab into fifth, ahead of John Bloxham’s BMW, the Boyd Escort, which had made a magnificent recovery, Mick Dolan’s Escort, and Arthur (Tony?) Fowkes incredible Mk.1 Lotus Cortina, which, running at No. 124, had been going amazingly well. Bror Danielsson and Olle Syren, in Opel and BMW respectively took the next two places, and Rosemary Smith had a good run in the under-powered Works Maxi to capture the Ladies’ prize.

Bob Bean and Paul Stephens were well in the hunt with their Escort TC, here seen on Hamilton’s Folly, until problems set in on Monday.
John Bloxham, more usually seen in a Ford these days, brought the second Autoextra BMW round in great style.
J. Keating seems slightly distressed by the appearance of a bridge at Annamoe on Saturday morning.
The one Jolly Club Lancia to appear was in The hands of Messrs Wilkinson and Griffiths, but it didn’t show up particularly well.
An interesting camera effect at Hamilton’s Folly, caused by the lights of “yer actual” Swedish BMW.
The Walker-Bates Cooper gets a bit of assistance from spectators after doing things a bit wrong.
Sven Simonsson gets his BMW a little bit near the edge on Coan.