The second World Cup Rally of 1974
This event was designed to be even more demanding than the first,
and break new ground - no rally had ever crossed the Sahara
It would also involve a double-crossing, turning round at Kano in Negeria,
and driving back, with changes to the route.
This time Wylton Dickson, who was ``shunted out" in the politics of setting
up the first event, (having had the idea in the first place, he was mighty
miffed that nobody invited him to the celebrations at the finish of the first
World Cup Rally), this time he would be very much in the driving seat and
command the organisation. He won the support of the RAC MSA, who at
the time were greatly concerned with the whole world of motor-sport being
sent into a spin by the great oil crisis of 1974
. As ordinary motorists had
to line up for rationed petrol, much of motor-sport was suspended.
The plans for a second World Cup did not have an easy baptism, and it
looked as if all the major teams would shun the event. Stuart Turner went
on record as saying that as far as Ford were concerned, there were worries
about the event being seen as irresponsible.
There was also the worry of the route - this would be even harder to
``control" with service back up and organised support. This would be a rally
that really did echo the pioneers at the turn of the century with their ``man
and machine up against the elements" approach. Clearly this was to be a
mighty big adventure.
Dean Delamont saw it as a beacon that could inspire and re-light
motor-sport once the oil crisis was over, and ensured that the RAC gave the
organisation their full support.
The rally would attract a wide variety of privateers, plus some drivers with
long distance experience with factory support - Andrew Cowan entered in a
very secondhand Escort loaned by Boreham, Shekha Mehta had a Safari
specification Lancia Fulvia. Peugeot put in a team of new 504s, Leyland
were represented by Major John Hemsley in a prototype hybrid - a Morris
Marina with MGV8 engine, gearbox and axle. Stirling Moss and Michael
Taylor had a Mercedes 280E, Andrew Hedges a Jeep Cherokee, so too did
Innes Ireland, Patrick Vanson had a works Citroen, and former European
champion Zasada in a Porsche 911 was expected to be quick - in all, there
were eight drivers that the Organisers refused to ``recognise" as Privateers.
There was no shortage of variety - a father and son team entered a Hillman
Minx Series Three, and Keith Schellenberg drove his eight litre Bentley.
Kenyan Safari experts who knew Africa, Australians who knew how to pace
a rallycar around the bush, found the concept attractive.
Jim Gavin and Henry Liddon took off in a Ford-supplied Escort and drove the
route, returning home with enough notes from the one exploration-trip to
make the road-book. However
this was more than year ahead of the start
of the event.
Two special tests were held on Forest Commission land just outside
Aldershot and Basingstoke, where the cars could be shaken down before
the ferry. These were to be the only tests timed to the second
rally would be timed in terms of days and hours.
Some of the sections in the Sahara were over 1,000 kilometres long. And it
was on one of these long sections - approaching Tamanrasset in southern
Algeria, that the majority of the crews hit problems. The notes from the
route survey said turn left at the end of the tarmac strip, bump over the
desert until you find the piste running parallel and then turn right, continue
south. There was a clear point in the kilometre column in the route-book for
. The only problem now is that the road-menders had continued
making the tarmac long after the Liddon-Gavin recce.
What to do? Is the measurement right, do you accept the distance given in
the notes as accurate, or
do you continue as instructed to the end of the
tarmac before taking the left turn over the sand?
The privately entered big Citroen of Australian crew Ken Tubman, Andre
Welenski, and Jim Reddiex, who built the car himself, turned off at the right
distance, found the piste, and had no problem. They were to go on to win
by nearly two days in terms of penalty points over the 504 of Christine
Dacremont, with no more trouble than a blown rear-light bulb.
Others were less fortunate. Moss became bogged in sand and became
seriously lost - others also got hopelessly lost, and Gavin had a fraught time
trying to get the Algerians to raise a search party, which had to be by air.
Few continued south of the Tamanrasset control - one who did was the
Hemsley Marina, who then succumbed on the road to Kano.
Just about all saw incredible difficulties. Shekha Mehta and Lofty Drews
bent the valves of the little Lancia - they were heated up and replaced by a
local blacksmith, but the timing chain had stretched, and they were soon
bent again. They were towed for hundreds of miles.
James Ingleby, today a member of the Historic Rally Car Register, finished
highest placed Scottish driver. He was the last of the five to
complete the full route. His Jeep had a split chassis, and oil leaks, and
finished with 123 hours penalty (almost five days), behind the winning
Citroen (15 hours lost) and three works 504s.
The Cowan Escort broke the axle. At Tamrasset, he found a radio ham, and
got him to send morse code messages to radio hams around the world.
The message was picked up by a Canadian radio enthusiast - contact
Logan Morrison in Scotland, said the message. The radio ham duly
obliged. And Logan now had the job of finding the right Escort 2000 axle
and getting it to Tunis.
An Australian P76, with a Rover derived V8 engine, driven by journalist Evan Green
and navigated by John Bryson (who last competed on the recent Peking to
Paris) had an eventful journey in car that had never been entered on a rally
before. The P76 won the Targa Florio section of
the 74 World Cup Rally in the
hands of Evan Green - something you should put up on your site, his book, "A
Boot Full of Right Arms" stands as one of the finest rally books of all
time. A brilliant read, but very hard to get hold of here in the uk.
Their adventures made for a most amazing book, ``A Boot Full of Right
Arms" and despite the fact that the rally had become strung out over half of
northern Africa, Green managed to capture everyone's adventures and set
them down into his book. It remains one of the all time classics, one of the
best rally books every written.
The winning Citroen still survives, back in the garage of Jim Reddiex who
built it - probably the last true private-entry to win a major international rally.
I knew Wylton reasonably well - we didn't always
get along, but I admired his
single-minded sense of purpose at cracking problems, and he was a great
innovator, without him there wouldn't have been some tremendous adventures
which the more ordinary privateer could lust after. I drove his 77 London to
Sydney Rally, and it changed my life.
Endurance Rally Association
The Old School
St Marys Road