1995 Circuit Historics

Photo: ECP
Sean Campbell and David Gray had a massive margin by the end of the event as others hit trouble.

Campbell’s Soup of the Day!

SEAN Campbell won the historic section at the 1995 Circuit of Ireland Rally by a massive 10-minute margin.

Report by Sammy Hamill and photos by Esler Crawford, reproduced from CarSport Magazine May 1995.

But it wasn’t really as easy as it appeared and for much of the first two days he was running virtually neck-and-neck with Galway International Historic winner Geoff Crabtree. However, the Englishman hit a succession of problems, including picking up 30 seconds in road penalties coming into service at Athlone when the Porsche succumbed to fuel starvation and he was left stranded for several minutes just short of the control. He lost another large chunk of time with a damaged stub axle and a puncture and fell back to finish third behind the Mini Cooper of Mervyn Johnston.

Campbell’s Porsche, crewed by Ulster Rally Clerk of the Course David Gray, ran virtually untroubled throughout the four days and stayed at the top of the field almost all the way.

Not so the Mini Cooper of last year’s Circuit Historic Winners, Dessie Nutt and Derek Smyth. Leading after the first two stages, Dessie put the car off the road during the Friday section and although ho didn’t hit anything too hard, a branch from the hedge poked through the grille, damaging the distributor cap and several minutes were lost While Nutt and co-driver Derek Smyth got it running again.

The spirited early pace by Dessie Nutt could not be sustained in a Mini when faced with Porsche opposition. An early trip into the undergrowth damaged the distributor cap, and a second excursion (seen here) meant all hopes of repeating last year’s win vanished.

Then, as he tried to make up ground on Saturday morning, Nutt overshot a junction and ran into a bank. “I left my braking too late but it wouldn’t have been a problem only there were people standing inside the taped-off area in the escape road. I had to go for the bank to avoid them,” he said.

Now over 14 minutes behind he decided to call it a day at Monaghan and head home to repair the Mini in time for the Killarney, Rally of the Lakes.

Mervyn Johnston (Mini Cooper S), meanwhile, was battling on against the power of the Porsches and nursing a sore knee, the result of a cartilage operation just a few weeks earlier. He decided the stitches had to come out before he started the rally and set out to do it himself. Then he realised he couldn’t see properly and asked a friend who was painting the house to do it for him! It gives a whole new meaning to DIY, doesn’t it?

Mervyn was still walking with a pronounced limp during the rally but once in the car it was business as usual for him and young co-driver Nigel Frazer.

Robert McGimpsey made it into fourth in his 1993 Winning Reliant but admitted he was having trouble getting on the pace again after his accident in Galway. Ronnie McCartney rounded off the top five in the big red Jaguar which needed considerable attention to the suspension.

Final positions:

  1. Sean Campbell/David Gray (Porsche) 4:35:51;
  2. Mervyn Johnston/Nigel Frazer (Mini Cooper) 4:45:55;
  3. Geoff Crabtree/Liz Jordan (Porsche) 4:47:23;
  4. Robert McGimpsey/Bryan Mutch (Reliant (GT) 4:51:08;
  5. Ronnie McCartney/Stephen Kirkpatrick (Jaguar) 4:53:24;
  6. Franz Falling/Hartmut Rever (Volvo 122) 4:57:42.