1980 DMC Moonraker

Photo: David Smyth
John and Jackson Allen were popular winners of the 1980 Moonraker Rally.

Report reproduced from the Belfast Telegraph

Allens beat their bad luck bogey.

The Dungannon Motor Club Moonraker Rally, the seventh round of the 1980 Northern Ireland Road Rally Championship, proved a very satisfactory night for Armagh brothers John and Jackson Allen, who “broke their duck” by not only finishing the rally, but actually winning the event in their previously troublesome Escort.  They have led many events this year, but unfortunately suffered multiple retirements due to car troubles.

Second place went to up-and-coming crew Kenny McKinstry and John McGaffin in another Escort, who were only a small amount behind the winners.  In third place, with his best career result so far, was Trevor Jordan, partnered in his Escort by Robert Harkness who was making a rare foray into road rallying.

The rally started at the filling station on the as-yet unopened Dungannon by-pass and the Dungannon Motor Club received a superb entry of 69 cars for the 120-mile event.  There was to be petrol after 40 miles on the north side of Dungannon, and another after a further 60 miles in Caledon, finishing at Armagh.

The maze of narrow tarmac roads which abound in the Dungannon area were incredibly slippy and as always, kept navigators on their toes.

Early in the rally some of the leading crews lost a little time with navigational problems including the championship leaders Fred Crawford/Drew Todd (Escort) and Trevor Haydock/Brian Rowan (Sunbeam) as well as McKinstry/McGaffin.  

This left the Allen brothers taking an early lead along with Winston Henry/Peter Scott (Escort RS1800), but the latter crew had to return to a control just before the petrol halt to get their card signed correctly by the marshal and this dropped them to second at the break.  Tied for third were Crawford/Todd, Haydock/Rowan, and McKinstry/McGaffin.

Trevor Haydock and Brian Rowan were leaders at the second petrol halt but mechanical problems robbed them of the win.

Shortly after the restart there were dramatic changes in positions when Henry left the fray.  It looked like this would put paid to Scott’s chances of becoming Northern Ireland Rally Navigator Champion, having been joint leader with Drew Todd at the start of the event.  However, in the Cappagh area Crawford/Todd dropped 14 minutes and this would result in a drop to sixth place at the finish, so Scott held on to the lead in the series.

John Jones and Brian Russell (Escort) were another retirement on this section when their differential broke, and Tommy Speers/Joe Law (Escort) dropped out of contention when they missed a check point along the way.

The Allen brothers almost threw it all away just before the the second petrol stop when they had a navigational error, and this let Haydock/Rowan snatch the lead as cars rolled in to Caledon.  It was short-lived for Haydock however as he was seen stopped with what looked like mechanical problems and that was the end of his rally.

Winston Henry and Peter Scott went out of the Moonraker, but Scott retained his lead in the 1980 Championship for navigators. Photo Bryce Sands.

At the finish in Armagh the results showed that the very popular Allen brothers had achieved one of their longstanding ambitions and were winners of a round of the Northern Ireland championship.  Fred Crawford still leads the drivers section of the championship from Trevor Haydock, and in the navigator’s section, Peter Scott has a three point lead over Drew Todd. 

1980 Moonraker Rally – Results

  1. John Allen/Jackson Allen (Escort); 
  2. Ken McKinstry/John McGaffin (Escort);
  3. Trevor Jordan/Robert Harkness (Escort);
  4. Ken Colbert/Colin Beatty (Sunbeam);
  5. John Morgan/Colm Quinn (Escort);
  6. Fred Crawford/Drew Todd (Escort);
  7. Alan Blaney/P. Williamson (Avenger);
  8. Ian Boyle/Bobby Young (Toyota).

Class 2 – 1st Morgan/Quinn; 2nd Blaney/Williamson; 3rd Boyle/Young.