1977 Drumlin

This report is reproduced from Motor Month Magazine; report by Christie Farrell.

Monaghan M.C Drumlin Rally.

Last year’s winner, Malcolm Totten, was again totally in command when navigated by Kenny Johnston they won Monaghan Motor Clubs 1977 Drumlin Rally in their Flack Bros Chrysler Avenger GT. They had a winning margin of seventeen marks over the second placed crew of Ronnie Burney and Ivor Ferguson in their Ford Escort RS2000, with T.P.Smith and Paul Phelan third a further two marks in arrears.

The Drumlin, which was again sponsored by Lindsay Burney, has the reputation of being one of the toughest events in the Shellsport Rally Championship, and this years event was no exception. The route consisted of 230 miles of navigation, divided into four sections, through the twisty, demanding roads of Cavan and Monaghan. Seeded number one were Championship leaders and local crew of David Wright/Leslie Fannin in their Lindsay Burney Avenger Tiger. At two were David Yeates,/Frank O’Donoghue in their Fiat 128-3P, followed by the eventual winners at three. Next were John Scallon and Derek Johnston in their RS2000, followed by the Avenger 2-litre of John Coyne/Christy Farrell. Running at six were the Armagh crew of Ronnie Burney/Ivor Ferguson while at seven was Ronnie McCartney and Peter Scott in their 2-litre Avenger. Ronnie had just travelled from the Newry rally where he had clinched the Northern Ireland special stage Championship by virtue of his third place overall there.

There was a six-mile run out to the start control near the village of Clontibret. Some of the leading crews dropped time into TP1, which included some of Monaghan’s classic loose roads. John Scallon/Derek Johnston dropped four minutes here due to electrical bothers on their Escort. Ronnie Burney/Ivor Ferguson were on three and T.P. Smith/Paul Phelan were on four. David Yeates/Frank O’Donoghue lost their clean sheet when they dropped one into TP2. Scallon/Johnston also dropped another minute here. The route headed north towards Emyvale and then south-west to the first petrol halt at Bellanade. Three crews remained unpenalised here. They were Wright/Fannin, Totten/Johnston and Coyne/Farrell. There was a ten-minute service halt here and already in trouble was the Fiat of Yeates/O‘Donoghue with a suspected blown head gasket. Navigation rallies cause a great strain on brakes, as there is no time for the discs to cool. It was not uncommon to see brake discs glowing red at time points.

David Yeates and Frank O’Donoghue were late arriving at the Control after the first service, but after proceeding less than one mile towards TP16, a huge puff of smoke emerged from the exhaust of the Fiat and that signalled the end of their rally. The approach to TP17 caused a great deal of confusion to crews. The correct slot seemed to come to a dead-end at a farmyard approximately one mile from the time point, but one had to journey round a field which led to a tarred road and eventually to the time point. John Coyne and Christy Farrell dropped their first minute here. Wright/Fannin were forced to skip TP27 and make a wrong approach to Control 28, due to overheating on their Avenger. This was the end of section two of the rally and was a petrol and service halt.

Crews had a half hour to tend to themselves and their cars. Totten/Johnston held the lead, still with a clean sheet, followed by Coyne/Farrell on one and Smith/Plielan on four. Ronnie McCartney and Peter Scott retired here due to fatigue, caused by their long days rallying.

The restart was just south of Butlers Bridge and from here crews headed through the the longest section of the rally. Malcolm Totten and Kenny Johnston maintained their pressure and at Control 49 had stretched their lead. They were fourteen minutes down followed by Ronnie Burney/Ivor Ferguson on 25 with T.P Smith/Paul Phelan on 31. After a short run to the petrol halt, the remaining crews passed through six time points to the final control back near Clontibret.

When results were finalised, Malcolm Totten and Kenny Johnston were only declared overall winners with a loss of 16 marks, with Ronnie Burnev and Ivor Ferguson second on 33 marks and TP Smith/Paul Phelan third with a loss of 35 marks. The severity of the event resulted in only thirteen crews being classified as official finishers. Monaghan Motor Club are to be congratulated for the efficient manner in which they ran their event. Every one of the sixty one points which were to he visited along the route were manned by officials.

Following; the Drumlin, the drivers section of the National Rally Championship is being led by David Wright with 53 Points, with John Coyne second on 49 points. John Scallon 42 and David Yeates 35. In the navigators section, Leslie Fannin leads on 43, with Frank O’Donoghue 35 and Christy Farrell, Ivor Ferguson and Derek Johnston all on 34.


  1. M. Totten/K. Johnston (Chrysler Avenger GT) 16
  2. R. Burney/I. Ferguson (Ford Escort RS2000) 33
  3. T.P. Smith/Paul Phelan (Ford Escort 13OO BDA) 35
  4. J. Coyne/C. Farrell (Chrysler Avenger GT) 120
  5. D. Wright/L. Fannin (Chrysler Avenger) 139
  6. J Scallon/D. Johnston (Ford Escort RS2000) 18O
  7. E. Harvey/N. Harvey (Chrysler Avenger GT) 248
  8. S. Curran/T. Tuite (Ford Escort RS2000) 278
  9. A. Nairn/B. Cooper (Chrysler Avenger GT) 307
  10. S O’Connell/A. Kavanagh (Ford Escort) 388