Navigators to co-drivers

It has been said that a good driver with an excellent navigator could win a road rally but it would be unlikely that an excellent driver with an average navigator could do so. Unquestionably the Motorsport News (MN) Championship was the top level for road rallying and it is little surprise therefore that team managers in the late Fifties and Sixties looked very closely at successful navigators in that Championship to fill their own top drivers’ co-driver’s seats. Initially rally managers tended to look at two driver combinations and this embraced the likes of David Stone, Paul Easter, Henry Liddon, Tony Nash to name a few, all of whom had had success behind the wheel. However it should be remembered that world championship rallies of that period did not always allow practice and in most cases the routes were driven blind. A co-driver who could read a map therefore became of greater importance not only for reading the road to the driver but also in helping the team as a whole with their event planning.

Two of these were John Brown, who partnered Erik Carlsson to win the 1961 RAC rally, and Tony Mason who partnered Roger Clark to win the same event in 1972. These were specifically UK events where their “local” knowledge throughout the UK was of very obvious value to their respective teams. However let us examine a few of the other MN navigators (in alphabetical order!) from the early days of the Championship who made this leap from Club events to International events in some of the biggest European Championship rallies.

 


Don Barrow 

Unquestionably the most successful navigator in MN history with 26 victories to his name, he was an obvious choice for Roy Fidler in his works TR4 in the 1963 Tulip Rally. They finished with a third in Class and were part of the Triumph entry that won the Team award. In 1964 he teamed up with Timo Makinen for the Spa-Sofia-Liėge in a works Healey 3000 but they retired around quarter distance having run out of tyres. (this combination was more successful later that same year when they took 2nd place on the RAC). Don’s final outing in Europe was with Ian Hall in 1965 when they competed in a works Sunbeam Tiger on the Coupe des Alpes, an outing that ended in another retirement. Don’s view on these International events is interesting

“they were very glamorous events, but when you have been involved in making the Tulip road books for the Works teams the events themselves became a bit of a bore. The best excitement and the feeling of greatest accomplishment was undoubtedly competing in and winning MN events."

 


Ron Crellin

Competed in the MN Championship almost from the very beginning, winning the 2nd round, the 1961 Express & Star, navigating for Brian Harper in a Morgan. Thereafter he was a regular competitor in the series with his first “foreign” rally being the Rallye München-Wien-Budapest in 1965 along with Tony Fall in a Cooper S. The following year he did the Monte, again with Fall, and then became Paddy Hopkirk’s regular partner, winning the Int. Österreichische Alpenfart outright. They also took a 3rd place on the Acropolis, a 15th on the Rallye dei Fiori but retired on the Coupe des Alpes. 1966 saw them win both the Coupe des Alpes and the Acropolis and they managed a 2nd on a return to the Rallye dei Fiori. 1968 saw his last but one outing with Hopkirk producing a 5th place on the Monte Carlo rally and then, with Tony Fall, he went on win the TAP rally in a Lancia Fulvia. Thereafter the majority of Crellin’s rallying was with the UK but he did one more event with Hopkirk, an entry into the 1994 Monte Carlo in a Rover Mini Cooper; sadly that ended in retirement.

 


John Davenport

John Davenport – Navigators to co-driversAnother navigator involved in the Championship from the early sixties, not least by assuming the Verglas role in 1963. In the following years he mixed his UK activities with multiple sorties onto the Continent. 1964 saw him with Geoff Mabbs in the Tour de France and the Liege-Sofia-Liėge and in the Tulip with Brian Culcheth with whom he had been doing MN events in a Sprite. The following year he was again out on the Tulip, this time with Geoff Mabbs in a Cortina GT and so began his International co-driving career, one that spanned a further ten years.

1966 saw Davenport team up with Vic Elford for seven events, the best result being a 7th place again on the Tulip. His last event of the year was with Ove Andersson which resulted in another 7th place in a Lancia Fulvia HF and led to him doing a further seven rallies with him during the ’77 season. The Monte and Rallye dei Fiori gave them a 2nd and a 3rd place, the Acropolis another 2nd and then a win on the Rallye de España. They also won the Gulf London in the UK along the way. A further seven rallies with Ove followed in ‘78, two with Lancia (the Monte 6th and Sestriere 4th) and five in an Escort Twin Cam. A first place with Simo Lampinen (Saab) on the RAC preceded the London Sydney Marathon with Terry Hunter in a Porsche 911 (with whom he had nearly won the Aer Lingus Rallye Bristowe which had been scheduled as an MN qualifier).

Seven outings back in a Lancia and now with Sandro Munari resulted in two wins and a 2nd (Italy’s Sestriere, Alpi Orientali and Rally 999 Minuti). Another interesting event was the Tour de France with Willie Green in a GT40 although that ended in a retirement. Still with Lancia in 1970 but know paired with Simo Lampinen, the best results were 1st on the TAP and 3rd on the Rally of 1000 Lakes. In between he emulated his Manx win in ’69 with Colin Malkin by winning again with Chris Sclater in his Escort. Another full season with Simo followed with best results being a 1st on the Rally 4 Regioni, 2nd on the TAP and a 3rd on the Acropolis.

Over the next few years John partnered a variety of different drivers in cars ranging from a BMW 2002, a Datsun 1800 SSS and Renault Alpine to a Fiat 124 Abarth Rallye and a Lancia Beta Coupé. The drivers included Achim Warmbold, Rauno Aaltonen, Chris Sclater, Harry Källström, Hannu Mikkola and Marku Alen and his wins outside of the UK included TAP(’72), Jänner (’73), 1000 Lakes (’74), Bayerische Sachs Winter Rallye (’75), Rallye Hessen (’75) and Bavarian (’75).

Given the drivers he partnered and the successes he achieved there is little doubt as to Davenport’s position as arguably one of the leading navigators to have come out of the UK Club rallying scene.

 


Martin Holmes

Martin Holmes – Navigators to co-driversOne of the mainstays of the MN championship over the years Martin was best known for partnering amongst many others, Russell Brookes in his early days and Paul Faulkner in his Triple C Escort. He is now widely considered to be rallying’s most experienced and respected journalist covering WRC and other major rallies around the world. While still heavily involved in UK Club rallying and then continuing with MN rallies his first foray onto the Continent was in 1967 with Tony Maslen in a prize-drive Imp on the Tulip.

It was a few years before another similar opportunity arose but then, partnering Shekhar Mehta in a Lancia Beta Coupé , an excellent 4th place finish in the 1974 Rallye Sanremo was achieved. At this point Martin “gave up the day job” and gave his whole attention to success in rallying. He came 3rd with Chris Sclater in the ’75 Firestone and did two further “foreign” events that year with Jussi Kynsileno in Poland and Finland (1000 Lakes), both ending in retirement.

His outings in ’76 were dogged by retirements (in Poland, Portugal, Greece, three rallies in Finland plus a crash on the Acropolis) but he managed a 19th with Keith Billows on the Tulip. In ’77 Martin was heavily involved in the UK with Chris Sclater in the Dealer Team Vauxhall Chevette program but still had other outings on the Continent, notably finishing 4th in Finland on the Hankiralli with Hämäläinen Kyösti. He also did the Barum with John Haugland in a Skoda 130 RS.

In 1978 DTV was running the European Vauxhall team and Sclater embarked with Martin on a full programme of events which included: Boucles de Spa (ret’d), 12 Hours de l’Est (1st), TAP (NS), Rally 4 Regioni (ret’d after service car was stolen!), 24 Hours of Ypres (ret’d), Rallye des Pistes (3rd), Tour de France (3rd) and SanRemo (ret’d). This was a full-on year involving much travelling and all of the recces but Martin also managed another run out with John Haugland on the Swedish (18th).

Martin’s final continental rallies were in 1979 with outings to Monte Carlo (Billy Coleman 30th), Swedish (John Haugland 9th), Portugal (Andy Dawson 4th) and Poland (Billy Coleman 3rd after a disastrous last stage puncture).

 


Henry Liddon

Henry Liddon – Navigators to co-driversWhilst taking part in the first couple of years of the MN Championship, by 1963 Liddon had started partnering Paddy Hopkirk in the very successful BMC team scoring a 2nd, a 6th and a 3rd in that year’s Tulip, Liège-Sofia-Liège and Tour de France. 1964 saw this program increased to six events with first places being achieved in the Rallye Monte Carlo and the International Österreichische Alpenfarht. The following year’s Monte was less successful for, whilst they won their class, they were only classified 26th overall. The best result that year was the Coupe des Alpes with Hopkirk (4th) whilst he also had outings with Julian Vernaeve and Paul Easter.

1966 started with the infamous Monte disqualification of the BMC Minis and this turned out to be his last outing with Hopkirk, Liddon then changing over to co-drive for Rauno Aaltonen. With Rauno he did a further five rallies, gaining a 1st on the Tulip, a 1st on the Vitava and a 3rd on the Coupe des Alpes. A full season for this pairing followed, redressing the unfairness of his previous disqualification by starting the year with a win on the Monte. His year involved nine rallies with BMC with a 3rd on both the KAK and Tulip rallies combined with a 5th on the Geneva, again paired with Vernaeve.

By this time Minis were getting less competitive and a 3rd on the 1968 Monte and a 5th on the Acropolis were his best BMC results alongside the 5th achieved on the London-Sydney in an 1800. He also co-drove Rauno on the Tour de Corse in a Lancia Fulvia, finishing 2nd. Three further outings with Lancia in the first part of 1969 produced a 2nd on the San Remo and then a 9th on the Safari. Liddon also had a couple of outings with Tony Fall.

With Ford Escorts now becoming more dominant, Liddon co-drove Makinen on the Monte into 7th place and then into 2nd on the 1000 Lakes. A trip to Mexico with Aaltonen on the World Cup saw them classified 3rd . Thereafter Liddon’s successes continued with wins on the ’73 1000 Lakes (Makinen), ’73 Sherry (Sclater), ’74 Bandama,’76 Total (South Africa) and Bandama (all with Makinen) and the ’78 Volta à Medeira (Vatanen).

By now he was heavily involved with Toyota Team Europe as Ove Andersson’s right hand man and, amongst a further ten rallies he took a 1st on the Rallye Hessen with Achim Warbold. Four similar rallies were entered the following year by which time he was becoming more and more involved in organisational duties. Sadly Henry was killed along with Britain’s Nigel Harris and two TTE personnel in a light aircraft crash on one such venture during the 1968 Ivory Coast rally.

 


Brian Melia

Brian Melia – Navigators to co-driversTo many, Brian is best remembered as the co-driver for Jim Clark on their run in the 1966 RAC rally. However he was also the star of the first year of the MN Championship being the first recipient of the Navigators trophy (along with a cheque for £30!). It could have been a different story as his regular driver’s car, the ex-works Healey 3000 (SMO 745) of Don Grimshaw, was seemingly destroyed by fire on the Sunday Mercury rally along with all of his precious maps. Another Healey completed the year with Brian also joining Tony Fisher (Mini) and John Sprinzel (Sprite) along the way. The following year he was again Champion navigator, topping the table some 30 points above Don Barrow who finished runner-up. A few years later he even drove his own Cortina GT into 4th place on the 1965 Vales and then drove the same car into 2nd place on the Welsh and 3rd on the Gulf London.

However back in ’62 he had already ventured abroad and, with Tony Fisher came 8th on the Tulip and then, with Henry Taylor, 10th on the Acropolis. 1963 saw him continuing with Taylor on the Monte, Acropolis (4th), Coupe des Alpes (3rd) and the Liège=Sofia-Liège (4th). 1964 was less successfull, five outings only produced one reasonable result, a 5th on the Tulip. His last two events with Taylor were in 1965 producing a 9th on the Monte and a 3rd on the Coupe des Alpes and he then co-drove Roger Clark on the Tulip.

During all of this time he was the full-time coordinator for the Ford rally team using his well-earned and considerable knowledge of rallies and rally terrain to its full. He did a further five events with Roger Clark in 1966 before that epic RAC rally and, after being excluded on the Monte, they finished 2nd on the Acropolis and Coupe des Alpes, 4th on the Rajd Polski and then 19th on the 1000 Lakes.

After renewing a partnership with Rosemary Smith, one which had started on MN’s Mini Miglia rally in 1965 (they finished tenth) and winning the Cork 200 in a Hillman Imp, he had his last event with Roger, the Monte in a Ford Taunus; they finished 67th. Thereafter he became competitions manager for the Ford owned Autolite, a company subsequently re-named Motorcraft.

 


Tony Nash

Tony Nash – Navigators to co-driversAn excellent example of a driver who was initially chosen for his driving skills, something that helped him throughout his career before he then became better known for his co-driving results with the likes of David Siegle-Morris and Paddy Hopkirk. His initial Continental foray was with Ian “Tiny” Lewis in a Herald, where they finished 9th on the 1959 Coupe des Alpes. The following year they came 25th on the Monte and then, this time in a TR4, 10th on the Acropolis. He was back out on both the Coupe des Alpes and then the Liège-Sofia-Liege in 1962 now paired with Peter Riley in a Healey 3000 and then a Morris 1100 but with no significant results. In 1963 they entered the Monte in a Zodiac and then achieved an 11th place finish and a 9th on the Acropolis and the Liège, both times in a Cortina GT. Paired for the ’64 season with David Seigle-Morris they came 24th on the Monte but retired on the Coup des Alpes, both in Cortina GTs, and then rolled out of the Liège. A further retirement followed on the 1965 Monte but they took a Lotus Cortina to the Coupe des Alpes and finished 19th.

There followed a partnership for which Tony is probably best remembered, a three year period co-driving with Paddy Hopkirk. This immediately resulted in a 2nd place on Portugal’s TAP rally in a Cooper S and a similar position on the London-Sydney Marathon at the end of the year in a BMC1800 where, until just before the finish, they were poised to take the winner’s trophy. 1969 saw a trip to the International Österreichische Alpenfarht in a Triumph 2.5pi which ended in clutch failure and then the Tour de France back in a Cooper S finishing 14th.

Another long distance event followed in 1970, the London-Mexico World Cup, with Tony and Paddy taking a Triumph 2.5pi into 4th place. Finally in 1971 he twice partnered Ove Andersson in an Alpine Renault A110 ending his Continental career on a high with to two victories, the Rallye Jean Behra and finally the Sanremo-Sestrière Rallye Italia.

 


Jim Porter

Jim Porter – Navigators to co-driversDating from before the initial MN rally series Jim Porter was the long-time co-driver for Roger Clark with whom he shared a highly successful career both in the UK and then on the Continent. They were known for their affiliation with Ford but their first MN events together were in Mini Coopers winning their first National, the Dukeries, in 1962 in such a car. 1966 saw them changing over to a Ford Cortina GT and at home they had a very successful season. It was also the year of their first venture together abroad, finishing 10th overall in the Coupe des Alpes, though surprisingly this was in a Rover 2000. Jim accompanied Geoff Mabbs in a similar car at the beginning of the following year on the Monte and they achieved a highly creditable 10th place finish.

It was really only when the Ford Escort twin cam came on stream in 1968 that the partnership of Clark and Porter began to win major events. Having won the Circuit of Ireland they then won the Tulip and Acropolis rallies and then, back in the UK, the Scottish. Porter was paired with Hannu Mikkola for the following year’s Monte but that ended in an accident. He then re-joined Clark and secured a 10th on the San Remo and a 2nd on the Acropolis; they retired on the Coupe des Alpes but also won the Circuit of Ireland again.

Back with Clark on the ’70 Monte they came 5th before he co-drove Makinen on the Swedish; engine problems here leading to their retirement. Following a third successive win on the Circuit he teamed up with Ove Andersson on the Int. Österreichische Alpenfahrt where they retired before taking 3rd on the Acropolis. He also had his first outing that year with Jean François Piot on the Tour de Corse where they finish 6th.

By this time Roger’s rallying was mainly UK based and in 1971 Porter was running the Ford France program for Piot and competed with him on the Lyon-Charbonnière-Stuttgart-Solitude-Deutschland rallye (2nd), the Coup des Alpes (3rd) and the Tour de France (7th). He was with Piot again the following year for the ’72 Monte (5th) and then, along with his highly successful UK program with Roger, he joined up with Safari winner Robin Hillyar for the Acropolis (OTL) and Mikkola for what turned out to be an abortive attempt at the Olympic rally.

A 4th with Hannu on the Monte came in the middle of a season in the UK where, with Roger, they recorded six wins. He then travelled to New Zealand with Hannu and won the Heatway International rally. By now Jim was in charge of his home International, the RAC, and it was 1975 before he and Roger were over the Channel again, entering the Rallye d’Antibes and the San Remo. Success did not come their way on these nor on the following year’s trips to Spain and Morocco but they did at last finish with a 14th on the Southern Cross rally in Australia.

1977 saw a 2nd place on the Acropolis and a 3rd on Canada’s WRC event, the Critérium Molson du Québec both with Roger, but they then retired on the Rallye de Portugal (clutch) and theSafari (water pump). In ‘78 he was with Billy Coleman on the Acropolis (7th) and then won the Cyprus International with Roger at the end of the season.

By now he had moved into Boreham as the Ford rally team’s co-ordinator on new programmes but still did two more European events with Coleman, the Rally Costa Brava (3rd) and Elba (retd.). His last Escort rally with Roger and his last event on the Continent was the ’79 Acropolis which sadly ended with engine problems.

In all his International rallying lasted from 1965 through to 1979, involving over 40 major continental rallies alongside many UK based Nationals and Internationals. The majority of these were as co-driver to Roger Clark.

 


David Stone

David Stone – Navigators to co-driversIn the first three years of the MN Championship Stone was regular competitor achieving his first win with Alec Griffiths on the Vales in ’61 and his second with Pat Moss on the Yorkshire. Four more wins over the years with Moss followed while he also navigated for, amongst others “Tiny” Lewis, David Seigle-Morris and Vic Elford.

His first Continental rally was with “Tiny” Lewis in the ’61 Tulip and his association with Moss saw him sit beside Erik Carlsson to victory in that year’s RAC. Graham Robson, then the competition manager for Triumph, teamed him up with Vic Elford for the Coupe des Alpes and then another trip to the Tulip finishing 3rd.

The pairing of Elford and Stone was more competitive when they switched to a Cortina GT which then saw a 5th on the ’64 Coupe des Alpes but retirement on the that year’s Monte. Having temporarily “retired” he then re-joined Elford for the ’65 Tour de Corse in a Porsche 911, finishing 3rd against all the major teams. With that success Porsche promised them full support the following year and this was rewarded by 3rd on the Monte, 5th on Rallye de Fiori, 1st on Lyon-Charbonnière-Stuttgart-Solitude-Deutschland rallye, 1st on the Tulip, 1st on the Geneva, and a 3rd on the Tour de Corse. This string of results earned them both victory in the European Championship.

From 1968 Vic Elford decided to concentrate on racing but not before a swan-song on the Monte which he and Stone won in a 911T. Only two outings followed that year but one saw victory in Spain with Munari in a factory Lancia.

After a quiet 1970, David was in a Toyota for the Monte but this ended in retirement. However things took off again when David joined the works Renault team and won the Lyon-Charbonnière with Jean-Claude Andruet in an Alpine 110 1600S. There followed a 2nd on the Acropolis (Jean Vinatier) and a 1st on the Spanish with Jean-Pierre Nicholas.

By now David had decided to retire again but not before one last try at the Monte. He did this with Ove Andersson in Ove’s first drive in an Alpine and they won outright. In the record books David remains the only Briton to have won the Monte twice in two different makes of car.

 


Mike Wood

Mike Wood – Navigators to co-driversA stalwart of the MN series since taking part in the 1961 Express & Star in John Sprinzel’s Sprite he then achieved many top ten results with John Wadsworth and John Waddington over the first couple of years (and a 4th place on the ’62 Dusk ‘til Dawn with no less than Brian Redman). In 1963 he teamed up with Geoff Halliwell and together they won the Jeans Gold Cup, Mike’s first major trophy. This combination continued together right through until the end of 1965. Meantime he was beginning to embark on many Continental events and in ’63 did the Monte with Geoff Mabbs, the Coupe des Alpes with Timo Makinen and the Liège with Logan Morrison. In ’64 he entered the Liège again but this time with Waddington and finished in 20th position and then the following year he had an outing with his MN partner Halliwell in the Rallye München-Wien-Budapest which ended in an accident.

1966 saw the beginning of a partnership with Tony Fall. Initially this was in the BMC team and whilst successful in the UK Internationals saw only two non-finishes abroad in the International Österreichische Alpenfarht and the Coupe des Alpes. 1967 was a much better year with a 4th on the Rallye de Fiori, a 3rd on the Tulip and a win on the Donau Rallye (this one in an 1800 Maxi) He also had other Cooper S outings with Simo Lampinen (15th on Monte) and the Tulip (5th with Julian Vernaeve).

In the last year of his BMC involvement he did the Monte (4th) and the Sanremo (retd.) with Fall and also did the Tulip again with Vernaeve (3rd) achieved a 10th with Brian Culcheth on the Acropolis in a Morris 1800. He was also with Fall for the London-Sydney in another 1800 finishing in 24th spot.
In 1969 he did five events partnering Hannu Mikkola as part of the works Ford team retiring on four but winning the fifth, the International Österreichische Alpenfarht. He also co-drove for Chris Sclater on the TAP. He was with Fall again in the Lancia team for the Monte but retired with engine failure and retired again when with Rauno Aaltonen in a BMW 2002 Ti on the Tour de Corse. 1971 saw him back with Fall again for seven Internationals in three different makes of cars. Their first outing in a 240Z started the year with a 10th on the Monte. Three more followed but despite a win on the Welsh both the others finished “early”! They entered the Safari in a Fulvia (diff failure) and two events in a BMW (International Österreichische Alpenfarht – 5th, and Tour de France – 6th)

1973 saw Wood/Fall in another diverse range of cars – Datsun 240Z, VW 1303S, Peugeot 504, Datsun 1800SSS, VW Käfer 1303S, and a Datsun Bluebird. A 9th on the Monte, a 4th on the Safari and a 10th (in the Käfer) on the International Österreichische Alpenfarht were the main results. 1974 saw Mike competing only in the UK teamed for two events in an Opel with Tony Pond and the only foreign rallies that Mike undertook thereafter were the Marlborough Artic rally (twice) and the Hankiralli (twice) with Curt Nelskylä. These final outings netted him in a 31st, a retirement, a 22nd and lastly a 21st in successive years.


Written by Peter Robinson

If you have enjoyed reading this article you might also like to read

Memory Lanes …the beginning
(1961 – 1965)
Memory Lanes …the early years
(1966 – 1969)
Memory Lanes …revisited
(1970 – 1973)

The above books detail every single Motorsport News rally between the years
1961 and the end of 1973

and then, of course, there is the annual “small book” under the heading of Rally Tales

Rally Tales 4 is still available and
Rally Tales 5 will be available in the last quarter of 2021

For further details check out

www.photohistoric.com

Contact Us

Turweston Aerodrome
Brackley
Northants, NN13 5YD

+44 (0)1280 705 570
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

©Bill Gwynne Rallyschool International Ltd 2020

Connect with us