Tomorrow (Saturday 1 September) marks the start of an event that will spark the memories of many participants and spectators alike, with a gala dinner full of reminiscing, set to end the day in the Titanic Museum…
Aptly named the ‘TITANIC DÉJÀ VU ULSTER’ this rally reunion extravaganza comes to Belfast after a few years of successful Déjà vu events, seeing the worlds rallying greats and passionate petrolheads take on former rally stages from Killarney to Kerry and even as far as Sicily in Italy.
The innovation of Dr. Beatty Crawford, a well decorated former rally navigator, with the help of one of Irelands most known and respected faces from the motorsport fraternity, Plum Tyndall of RPM Motorsport, Titanic Déjà vu Ulster is set to thrill.
As the Titanic Slipway comes to life with the sights and sounds of some fantastic classic and historic cars, one car in particular will capture the hearts of many, as the Audi S1 Quattro that double World Rally Champion Walter Rohrl drove on the 1988 Race of Champions will be on display.
A car that is locally owned, in a private Co. Armagh collection, will be on display at the end of a spectacular day which will have seen over 100 crews relive some of the very special stages that have been used on Ulster International and Circuit of Ireland rallies in the past.
Not only will this iconic piece of motorsport history be on display, but two-time World Rally Championship winner and one-time Le Mans 24hr winner, Walter Rohrl will lead an armada of Porsches on the event, driving the Carrera 911SC lent by John Mulholland.
A truly international entry includes Bones O’Conner, who’s coming from Australia to reunite with many of his old Irish rallying friends; Brian Powley (the first Tarmac Historic Champion), from the USA; Darryl and Joanne Hammond from New Zealand; Walter Rohrl from Germany; John Haugland from Norway; Louise Aiken-Walker from Scotland; David Mann, John Taylor, Mike Wood and Phil Short from England; Derek Boyd and Ian Corkhill from the Isle of Man; and twenty-five crews from the Republic of Ireland with the remainder from Northern Ireland.
The legendary Cathal (CB) Curley, who with co-driver Austin Frazer was the winner of the inaugural Ulster Rally In 1976 will be partaking in Déjà vu, his co-driver this time, Pat McCourt, known as “Flat Pat” and they will drive a MK 2 BDA Ford Escort.
Another great of Irish rallying, Rory Kennedy, the hugely successful navigator, with I’m certain the biggest trophy cabinet of all co-drivers in Ireland, will guide an even bigger great of local rallying along the most scenic of routes, as he sits beside Paddy Hopkirk in the replica of Paddy’s 1964 Monte Carlo winning Mini 33EJB.
It was back in 1958 when five times Circuit of Ireland Rally winner, Paddy Hopkirk and Jack Scott took their Triumph TR3 to Paddy’s first Circuit victory. He and Jack won again in 1961 and ‘62 in a works Sunbeam Rapier.
Paddy established himself as one of the fastest Mini drivers in the world when he and Henry Liddon won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. Paddy with co-driver Terry Harryman from Bangor, took the little Cooper S bombshell to his fourth Circuit victory one year later and they repeated the feat in 1967 to win the Circuit for the fifth time.
Two of the most prominent ladies in the history of rallying, Rosemary Smith and Louise Aiken-Walker MBE, also look forward to a great drive along memory lane. Rosemary Smith recently became the most elderly woman ever to have driven a Formula One car, when she joined the Renault Sport Team for a test run at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the South of France in 2017.
The Dubliner, who has had great success across the globe, including an outright win on the 1965 Tulip Rally after a monumental drive, will drive a historic Sunbeam Tiger.
In 1983, Louise Aitken-Walker MBE, from the Borders Region in Scotland became the first woman to win a national rally outright in Britain, and she went on to become Ladies European Champion that year.
Having twice won the ‘Coupe des Dames’ on the Monte Carlo Rally and being crowned Ladies European Champion again in 1989 the pinnacle of Louise’s 14-year career came in 1990 when she was crowned FIA Ladies’ World Rally Champion.
When Louise takes to the road in a Group 4 Sunbeam Lotus, she and Rosemary will be travelling over the same territory that they would have rallied on in the past.
Norwegian John Haugland, the former factory Skoda driver, will borrow John Mulhollands newly acquired historic rally prepared Skoda 136.
Haugland is no stranger to Ireland, having competed three times in the Circuit of Ireland. In 1975 he won the Sunday Run over the famous Kerry and Cork special stages. John has competed three times in the Ulster Rally and was 8th overall in 1989 and won his class on all three occasions.
Expect a dozen historic Mini Cooper S models, and eight of the ever-popular Ford Escorts. Sunbeam will be represented by Lotus, Tiger and Avenger models whilst BMW, Triumph, Opel, Vauxhall, Toyota, a Fiat Abarth 131, an Alpine Renault A110, a Saab, Honda, Aston Martin, Mitsubishi, Lancia Delta, Alfa Romeo, and Subaru will all be represented in the cavalcade along with a beautifully restored MkII Jaguar, recently featured in Classic & Sportscar magazine.
Spectators can enjoy this cavalcade of classic, historic and supercars when they set out on their 140-mile route from the Titanic Slipway at 10.00 am on Saturday 1 September, or maybe even at the lunch halt in Cushendun Village between 12.30 and 2.30.
“We would remind the public that this is not a speed event, just an opportunity to see some famous names in some famous cars, so please show them courtesy on the roads. Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Fund for Children are our designated charities and they will be collecting at the Titanic Quarter start and at Cushendun Village at lunchtime. Please give these excellent charities your support.”
Walter Rohrl / John Mulholland Porsche 911RS
Paddy Hopkirk / Rory Kennedy Mini Cooper S
Louise Aiken-Walker / Graham Walker Lotus Sunbeam
Cathal Curley / Pat McCourt Mustang
Derek Boyd / Richard Hall ’80 Porsche 911
John Taylor / Bryce Sands Mk. II Ford Escort
Adrian Boyd / Caryl Love ’71 Alpine Renault A110
Rosemary Smith / Pat Fay Sunbeam Tiger
John Haugland / Julie Entwistle–Haugland Skoda Rapid 1e36
Robert Woodside / Laurence Martin ’89 Porsche 911 Carrera Sport
Leaving the city, the cars will head up the Knockagh Hill above Whiteabbey, historically used as both a rally stage and a hillclimb. Then it’s on through picturesque Glenoe Village and over Cairncastle mountain north of Larne, another demanding stretch of tarmac used for speed hillclimbing and rallying.
Next, the Déjà Vuers will sample a spectacular section of the famed Causeway Costal Route, listed as one of the greatest drives on the planet. There will be an informal halt for refreshments at the historic Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough, before they head inland again to take in two of the Glens of Antrim’s favourite tests. The Orra Lodge and Glendun stages have been on many Circuit of Ireland, Ulster International and Texaco Rally schedules. They are followed by another brief respite in Glendun village.
Finally, the daddy of them all – Torr Head. This is one of the country’s ultimate challenges with views across to Scotland and some deep drops to the North Atlantic on your right. You hug the hills and negotiate the hairpins on the stage that Craig Breen made his own, on his way to winning the 2016 Circuit of Ireland International Rally.
10.00 am Titanic Quarter
10.15 approx. Knockagh Hill Climb
10.30 approx. Glenoe Village
10.45 approx. Cairncastle Hillclimb
11.00 Approx. Glenarm
12.00-14.00 Cushendun Village
All proceeds go to MacMillan Cancer Support and the Cancer Fund For Children.
Photos: Graham Baalham-Curry
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