Colbert and Beatty take Little Circuit.
This report is from the scrapbook of Eric Hamilton. Original source unidentified. Photos are from the Bryce Sands collection.
Last Wednesday night saw Queens University Motor Club promote their annual and very popular half-night”Little Circuit Rally 81”. The event started from Banbridge and attracted a good entry of 40 cars.
Ahead of competitors lay a good rally round the Banbridge/ Rathfriland/ Loughbrickland area. There were a total of five competitive sections in a route of 60 miles. These sections were tightly timed so that they required perfect “on-route” coordination between navigator and driver if a good time and result were to be achieved. The top crews are well used to this, and applied themselves throughout the rally to good effect.
The number one seed for the rally was the Ahory based crew of Eric Hamilton and Ashley Trimble driving their immaculate Ford Escort RS, backed by Matthews Motors and Craigavon Plastics. This pair were hoping for a good rally despite an overheating problem prior to the petrol halt.
At number two was the popular Dungannon crew of Kenny Colbert and Colin Beatty in their Moy Plant Talbot Sunbeam – a tidy team and very experienced. At number five was another local crew, John Morgan and Colm Quinn in their neat and rapid Talbot Avenger, this crew always going well. It was indeed a good event in the making.
Soon the cars were making their way to the first competitive section of the night, led by Hamilton and Trimble. This first section took the rally east of Banbridge and through Tullyrain and Kearneystown. The Escort of Hamilton and the Sunbeam of Colbert being hard to separate, both crews dropping 3 minutes and thus joint leaders of the event. Morgan and Quinn were one more minute adrift.
The section to follow saw Hamilton/Trimble drop a further 2:06 minutes with Colbert/Beatty on 1:56 minutes and taking the outright lead. This left just one section to be completed before taking on more petrol at Rathfriland, and just ten seconds between the leading crews.
The third competitive section took cars South through White Hill and Henish Bridge, this section being the longest of the event. Part way through this section, the Escort RS of Hamilton/Trimble developed overheating problems and finished the section with a time loss of four minutes. Colbert/Beatty were a minute better, and Morgan/Quinn also on four minutes.
Next came the petrol halt at Rathfriland town square and showed Colbert on 7:56, Hamilton on 9:06, and Morgan on 10:07.
After petrol the cars headed off into the County Down lanes to face the final two sections, the first of these being very tricky, keeping the navigators busy. Turning North through Cummingstown towards Loughbrickland, Hamilton stopped the clock at 5:12, with Colbert on 4:47.
The final section was just 6 miles long and had a caution warning in the route card at the end of a long straight with a blind brow and a tight 90 degree left hander immediately after. Hamilton and Colbert both negotiated it successfully, but Morgan made an uncharacteristic mistake and were out of the rally. Both Hamilton and Colbert dropped four minutes on this section.
The results then showed that Kenny Colbert and Colin Beatty were winners by 1:34 minutes from Eric Hamilton and Ashley Trimble.