1970 Scottish Rally

Photo: Esler Crawford
Winners Brian Culcheth and Johnstone Syer get the works Triumph a little bit sideways. ECP Photo.

McBurney Third – We Hope!

This report and photos by Esler Crawford was first published in Motorweek dated 18th June 1970. Photos from other sources added for interest.

THE FIVE-DAY International Scottish Rally ended last Thursday in a welter of confusion with all the major awards being withheld pending a protest to the FIA. The very provisional winner was Brian Culcheth in the works Triumph 2.5 PI with British Leyland team-mate Paddy Hopkirk second in a very rapid 1293 Mini Clubman. Ireland’s reputation as a source of top-class rally drivers was further upheld by Robert McBurney’s third place in his BMW 2002 TI which also won the private owners award. Noel Smith was sixth – or thereabouts! – in the Bostik Wolseley Hornet.

The Royal Scottish Automobile Club have a big problem on their hands. When Roger Clark’s works Escort, powered by a 220 bhp BDA engine, went out with the bearings run the lead was inherited by Harry Kallstrom in the works 1.6 Lancia. However earlier in the day Kallstrom had attempted a stage more than thirty minutes after his due time.

Harry Kallstrom presses on in his Lancia. ECP Photo.

This sort of thing had been going on earlier in the rally and although it merited a penalty of 1800 marks — enough to put any car completely out of the running – the organisers had turned a blind eye to it. But with first place in the rally now at stake the matter was soon pointed out to the organisers who had no option than to apply the penalty. But that was far from being an end to it.

Not as far as John Davenport, acting as Lancia team manager in the absence of his driver Simo Lampinen, was concerned. He came back at the organisers with the claim that the rally regulations did not comply with the requirements of the FIA European Rally Championship for Drivers in many respects – not being in French as well as English for one thing!

Adrian Boyd and Beatty Crawford were unlucky to go out with a broken rear axle in the end. ECP Photo.

Then to cap it all, on the last day, Kallstrom was alleged to have met Culcheth taking a short cut on the Culbin Sands stage. So there are protests and counter protests being filed with the FIA and if Lancia have not won the rally they have at least prevented BLMC from making the best use of their win publicity-wise.

There can be no doubt that the organising club partly brought the trouble on their own heads due to a system of road timing which is so complicated as to be virtually incomprehensible, plus the fact that they are known to be rather lax in their application of road penalties. A look at the system used on the Gallaher Circuit would be worth their while.

Eventual third placed Robert McBurney in typical pose, hurling boulders in all directions. ECP Photo.

At the same time a car, in so much trouble as the Lancia that repairs took away over an hour, was obviously in so much trouble that it would have been out of any other rally than the Scottish with its very easy road schedule. John Davenport’s explanation of the trouble as being “a leaking brake seal” seems a little far-fetched in the circumstances!

Nevertheless, Kallstrom drove well enough to win, and with a car giving roughly 150 bhp was doing very well to be putting up times on a par with Clark. Yet there can be no doubt that the A Culchheth/ Triumph win was very well-merited. The big car gave scarcely any trouble and was well driven by a much improved driver. By contrast, Clark’s Escort, which led for four fifths of the rally, was often in trouble with the Works mechanics rendering constant attention.

Hopkirk’s Clubman, used by John Handley in the World Cup Rally, gave little trouble, apart from a broken gear-box extension which the mechanics unsuccessfully bodged up, and for the private owner the Mini still looks the best for relatively cheap rallying as the Escorts had anything but a successful rally.

Paddy Hopkirk looks cheerful despite the problems his mechanics are having with the Works Mini Clubman. ECP Photo.

Robert McBurney had a very fine drive and but for a spate of punctures, seven in all, could well have beaten Hopkirk for second place. Apart from a camshaft bearing which chattered from start to finish and a broken rear spring, the BMW gave no trouble at all and with a bit of weight shedding this could be made into a very competitive rally car.

Not so lucky was Adrian Boyd who started off well and was lying fourth in the early stages only to have a holed sump slow him down and then a broken rear axle on the penultimate day brought about his retirement.

The rest of the Irish contingent had mixed luck. Tom Burke (Escort TC), George Baird (Imp) and Jim Campbell (Imp) all finished after various troubles but Jim McCosh (leaking gear-box in his Escort), Robin Maunsell (thumped a tree with his Imp), Ronnie McCartney (broken shock absorber mountings on his Escort), Arnie Poole and David Baird all retired.

Hmmm! Ford mechanics in the act of explaining to a rather unhappy looking Roger Clark just why the Escort is unable to continue. ECP Photo.

The Scottish Rally is something of a mixture of good and bad. The organisation is good, the stage timing excellent and so are the Press facilities. It is a relaxing event and, apart from the first 36 hour stage, the pace is easy and everyone has time to admire the magnificent scenery.

However the stage mileage tends to form a rather small proportion of the route although this is just as well, for this rally is a real car breaker and if the road sections were as tight as say the Circuit, there would only be about a dozen finishers.

As it was, one person won his class without even attempting a stage on the last two days!

Finally it must have been embarrassing for the organisers of a Shell sponsored rally to have to put the Shell supported car of Kallstrom out of the running and to find that the three best placed cars were all using Castrol!

Esler Crawford.