Perth to Geraldton

This early morning leg of the event was decisive. All the Cortinas needed a lot of work before leaving Perth and Carr lost a lot of time before the division had even begun. Portman rolled on the silly Wanneroo Special Stage, Bond rolled on the next transport and then Fury’s Cortina broke engine mounts on the first trial stage. While the Cortinas limped into Geraldton to try to effect repairs, the Commodores had really won the event in those decisive few hours on Friday morning, August 9th. With the most difficult 24 hours of trialling ahead of them, languishing down the field would have been sheer hell for Carr, Fury and Bond, with a huge dust hazard and a lack of confidence in the reliability of their cars. Only Carr would emerge intact by Darwin.

W1 – Wanneroo Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
40.2 km45 minutes4.45 am Friday Click here

The first crews would have awoken by 2 am as the first car was out of impound at 3.00 am for an effective 4.00 am departure on the run through the northern suburbs of Perth to Wanneroo Raceway. Extra time spent in service meant the need to speed though the pre-dawn streets, and there were plenty of police around to catch offenders. Many of the leading cars went to dealerships to work on their cars and needed to find their way back onto the route. The Brock Commodore was assigned an escort from the local dealership to guide them but navigator Richards commented that the escort went so fast that they were sure they would get pinged for speeding so that they actually backed off, lost the escort and then found their own way!
All the Cortinas needed a lot of service time but somehow Bond and Fury did not lose time although Fury appeared to drop some positions on the road. Carr is shown as losing 1 hour 25 minutes in the results and as a consequence would have been well down the field on the road. In addition to Carr, many of the leaders lost time due to the need for extra service time, including Dunkerton and Mehta (2 minutes each), Portman (11 minutes), Rowney (14 minutes), McCubbin (20 minutes), Jackson (22 minutes), Watson and Hilton (25 minutes each), Herrmann (33 minutes), Roberts (45 minutes), Mason (46 minutes), Mizel (1 hour 41 minutes) and Warmbold (1 hour 43 minutes). In fact the only leaders not to loose time were the Bond, Brock, Fury, Ferguson, Johnson, Cowan, Nalder, Barth, and Davis. Loader is shown as being 2 minutes early but it was likely 2 minutes late as they fell behind Davis on the road. The fates of Stewart and Lund are not known as they don't appear in the results. Behind the leaders numerous other cars took lengthy service time with another 13 cars losing more than an hour to Wanneroo.
The road order into the special stage must have been something like this: Bond, Ferguson, Brock, Johnson, Cowan, Mehta, Fury, Portman, Dunkerton, Nalder, Davis, Loader, Barth then probably Rowney.
Of the 130 cars classified as reaching Adelaide, plus 1 car (the Carter/Stephens/Draper Falcon) running under protest after failing to reach Perth within their late time limit:

  • 22 cars were recorded as being on time at Wanneroo.
  • 62 cars were either late or early at Wanneroo.
  • 20 cars did not appear in the official results because they retired somewhere enroute to Darwin and because they did not hand in their Road Cards, scores were never recorded for them. This included the Saville/Fyvie/Harris Peugeot that fatally crashed on the Kimberley stage.
  • 22 did not even make it Wanneroo, presumably having to work on their cars in order to skip to Geraldton, Meekatharra or Port Hedland. Some crews skipped all the way to Darwin without completing a single stage including Bryson/Cable-Cumming (Escort), Cafe/Gurney/Dawson (Mazda RX4), Parsons/Parsons (Mazda 323) and Sparkes/Clayton (Ford Fairmont).
  • 5 cars actually retired at Perth and did not start Division W.

W2 – Perth Special Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
3.3 km2 minutes4.47 am Friday Click here

Having a special stage at 5 am seemed like a pointless exercise and in retrospect, surely Geoff Portman would agree. The route entered the infield of Wanneroo (now Barbagallo) Raceway using an underpass near what is now called Kolb Corner, followed a bumpy gravel track around to the start of the first corner where crews turned hard right onto the tarmac and did a full lap to a flying finish at the normal start/finish line.
With few visual cues, the tarmac is very difficult to read at night and Portman overcooked it on Kolb corner and rolled out into the sand. He was no doubt fired up after having lost 11 minutes and several road positions on the previous transport. It would take him some time to extricate the car and to then effect some makeshift repairs, dropping over 21 minutes plus 52 minutes on the following transport. Herrmann was slow, but not as slow as Mason/Hicks/Horley (Commodore) who dropped over 3 minutes, clearly with a problem, while Walsh/Whitby/Wunderlich (Ford 'Grey Ghost') dropped more than 2 minutes then basically cut and ran to Darwin! The results show that 84 cars did the stage, but there were certainly more. Everyone else dropped under 2 minutes, in fact most were under 1 minute late.

Times (in seconds):

  • Brock 13
  • Mehta (Aaltonen) 15
  • Ferguson (Bell) 18
  • Carr, Fury, Rowney, Miettunen 24
  • Bond, Giddings 25
  • Dunkerton 27
  • Cowan 30
  • Barth, Johnson, Kahler 32
  • Neilson 33
  • Clyborne, Kuss 34
  • Taylor 35
  • Caddey 36
  • Foden, Lance, Donoghue 37
  • Nalder, Hurrey, Davis, Meehan, Boaden, Gough 38
  • Jackson, Mizel 39
  • Lloyd, Heaton 40
  • Jensen 41
  • Roberts, Beveridge, Stockley, Bird 43
  • Warmbold, Bell, Sheridan 44
  • Finlay, McCubbin, Clarke 45
  • O'Donnell 46
  • Ingerson 48
  • Lockhart 49
  • Boys, Koch 50
  • Watson, Loader, Farmer, Nicholson 51
  • Maloney, Tattingham, Murray, Myers, Mayden 52
  • O'Shanesy, Garner 54
  • Travis, Darby, Richardson 55
  • Caudle, Ferrier 57
  • Minett, Bray, Hall 1.00
  • Hilton, 1.01
  • Lunney 1.05
  • Carter 1.10
  • Rayner 1.11
  • Herdy, Reinders 1.13
  • McArthur, Moore 1.23
  • Bolch 1.26
  • Webster 1.27
  • Koseki 1.29
  • Herrmann 1.45
  • Walsh 2.22
  • Mason 3.38
  • Portman 21.36

W3 – Yanchep Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
108.4 km1 hour 20 minutes6.07 am Friday Click here

Adequate time was allowed for this 108 km transport to just outside the coastal town of Lancelin. Only a short stretch out of Wanneroo and the final 8 km was on gravel roads. About 10 km after leaving Wanneroo Raceway there was a bear left instruction that perhaps should have been a turn left, and somehow the Bond Cortina went straight ahead and rolled.

The seemingly innocuous junction where Bond rolled into the market garden
(Photo grabbed from Google Maps Street View)

According to Tuckey in An Old Dog for a Hard Road, new pads had been fitted to the Cortina after the Wanneroo stage so that Bond departed on the transport about 10 minutes late and just behind Cowan (but apparently Johnson had also been delayed and was just behind Bond). So he was probably pushing a bit to get back onto schedule and had apparently just passed Cowan when they reach the junction. Without the new pads bedded in the car simply wouldn’t stop. Apparently Johnson went off on the same corner but without significant damage or time loss. Bond had the car out quite quickly losing only 15 minutes on the transport (hence losing the lead and dropping to 3rd) but the damage was considerable. He persevered on to Geraldton where they carried out repairs.

Bond at Geraldton after his roll
(Photo grabbed from ABC Sport video)

Portman also dropped a heap of time (52 minutes) on the transport after having to effect makeshift repairs to the Stanza at Wanneroo. Jackson was also having continuing problems and dropped 10 minutes. Further back, quite a few cars were late with various problems including O'Donnell/Geissler/Gibson (LX Torana) who lost 54 minutes and Moore/Sethna (VW Beetle) who lost 33 minutes. Several cars started to cut and run initially to Geraldton. Others who had been late out of Perth were booking in early to try to recoup precious late time that would be needed later in the division, including Mizel and Roberts (each 12 minutes early). The remainder of the front runners were on time or early and the road order was now Ferguson, Brock, Johnson, Cowan, Mehta, Fury, Dunkerton, Nalder, Davis, Loader and Barth.

W4 – Drifting Sands Trial Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
69.6 km1 hour 15 minutes7.22 am Friday Click here

This aerial shot gives an idea of the terrain of this stage
(Photo grabbed from ABC Sport video)

The trial stage up the coast to near Cervantes was deceptively tricky, particularly since the first cars started it in the dim pre-dawn light. The narrow sandy tracks also had sections of nasty limestone rock outcrops while the final 15 km was an apparently fast gravel road, but was full of potholes and washouts. It was also spectacular, traversing country that is now part of the Numbung National Park with beautiful coastline and pure white sand dunes. In recent years a completely new tarmac road has been built from near Lancelin to Cervantes, and the old route now criss-crosses the new road!

Negotiating the narrow sandy tracks near Numbung National Park
(Photo: Ian Richards)

The 56 km/h average appeared generous but in fact only seven cleaned. Brock dropped 2 complaining of a suspension issue that would be addressed in Geraldton. Fury’s Cortina broke its engine mounts on this stage and they stopped short of the control waiting for the service crew and in the vain hope that perhaps the stage might be cancelled because of one dubious instruction in the route chart. The stage wasn’t cancelled and Fury lost 28 minutes and eventually limped up to Geraldton. Nalder was treading very carefully in the rough stuff and was passed by both Davis and the Loader/Hill Lancer. Bond did the stage with very little forward vision due to the broken windscreen, amazingly only dropping 8 minutes, but apparently clouted a rock and bent the sump. Carr recovered reasonably well to drop 3, no doubt passing several cars as dust was not really an issue. Rowney, having lost road position after being late out of Perth, had further problems with an overheating engine and dropped over half an hour falling behind Dunkerton in the overall results. Taylor/Hunt (Rover 3500) had a bigger problem losing more than 2 hours then cutting from Geraldton directly to Port Hedland.
Further back, several cars did not attempt the stage (or retreated) as they missed the end control. Minett/Chapple/Watson (Datsun 1600), O'Shanesy/Dean/O'Shanesy (Fiat 131) and Hayden/Phillis/Hogan (Mazda RX2) skipped to Geraldton. Koseki/Takaoka (Subaru Leone) skipped to Whim Creek more than 24 hours later.
The results show 74 cars completing the stage although Stewart and Lund as well as several others were certainly running also. It may have been on this stage that Lund broke the rear suspension of the Mazda RX7. The times under 40 minutes were:

  • Ferguson, Cowan, Mehta, Portman, Dunkerton, Mizel, Clyborne clean
  • Brock 2
  • Carr, Johnson, Hilton, McArthur 3
  • Caudle, Bray 5
  • Davis, Meittunen 6
  • Watson, Beveridge 7
  • Bond, Giddings 8
  • Wilson, Lloyd 9
  • Hurrey 10
  • Loader 11
  • Barth, Roberts 12
  • Richardson 13
  • Murray, Caddey 14
  • Jackson, Bell 16
  • Nalder 17
  • Kahler, Kuss 18
  • Myers, Nicholson, Garner 19
  • Mason 20
  • Warmbold, Finlay 21
  • Herrmann, Jensen, Sheridan, Gough 22
  • Clarke 24
  • Lockhart 25
  • Travis 26
  • McCubbin, Koch, Bird, Donoghue 27
  • Fury, Stockley 28
  • Meehan 29
  • Lance 30
  • Maloney 31
  • Heaton, Foden 33
  • Rowney, Herdy 34
  • Rayner 35
  • Jones 36

W5 – Roller Coaster Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
240.5 km2 hours 50 minutes10.12 am Friday
Depart 10.32 am
Click here

The first 144 km of this transport up to Geraldton was mostly on roller coaster gravel roads that run northwards parallel with the coastline (there is now a new tarmac road that hugs the coast) before joining the main Brand Highway. There were even spectators on some of the crests! So crews were justifiably wary that the organisers might have another challenging transport time, but in the end it was not tight and no-one lost any time unless they had problems. Indeed crews seeking to recoup late time were able to book in as much as 40 minutes early. There was a 20 minute hold at Geraldton where a large crowd had gathered to see the cars.
The Cortinas were in trouble by Geraldton, all requiring considerable work. All would lose time on either the transport into or out of Geraldton, or both, with Carr fairing the best and only losing 3 minutes out of Geraldton. Both Bond and Fury did work on their cars back at Cervantes, Bond losing over and hour and Fury 17 minutes on the transport. When they arrived, according to Tuckey they were both worked on in the local Ford dealership for more than an hour. Fury was a further 34 minutes late on the way out of Geraldton, and Bond 18 minutes. Both persevered through until Wittenoom before dropping controls. Mason's problems also continued and they lost 37 minutes into Gerladton. The Corr/McKimmie/Johansson Saab retired at Geraldton with gearbox problems.

The outright positions at Geraldton had been dramatically changed as a result of the problems faced by the Cortinas and by Portman's roll. Most, if not all of the 26 cars that had not missed a control to Perth had made it to Geraldton without missing a control, although no scores are shown for Stewart (probably 16th). It appears likely that the Lund RX7 may not have made it to Geraldton or if they did, they perhaps went no further. Obviously Bond and Fury were both to soon drop further down and within 24 hours they would both be missing controls. Warmbold was also living on borrowed time and would leave Geraldton so late that the Audi would skip directly to Meekatharra.

  1. Ferguson/Bell/Boddy (Commodore) 1.03.39
  2. Brock/Philip/Richards(Commodore)1.18.06
  3. Johnson/Vanderbyl (Volvo 242)2.08.42
  4. Cowan/Reddiex/Beaumont (Citroen CX) 2.23.48
  5. Bond/Riley/Dawson-Damer (Cortina) 2.25.01
  6. Fury/Bonhomme/Suffern (Cortina) 2.49.59
  7. Mehta/Aaltonen/Lake (Commodore) 3.06.38
  8. Carr/Morrow/Gocentas (Cortina) 3.13.41
  9. Dunkerton/McKay/Jones (Volvo 244) 3.23.08
  10. Portman/Thompson/Hammond (Stanza) 3.59.55
  11. Rowney/Wilson/Tyson (Datsun 180B) 4.07.03
  12. Nalder/Richards/Boyd (Celica) 5.34.02
  13. Davis/Eather/Toner (Datsun 180B) 5.49.17
  14. Loader/Hill/Neale (Lancer) 5.54.28
  15. Barth/Kushmaul (Porsche 924) 6.19.07
  16. Stewart/Parry (Commodore) score not known
  17. Mason/Hicks/Horley (Commodore) 6.33.17
  18. Watson/Harrowfield (Peugeot 504 Diesel) 7.04.23
  19. Herrmann/Rainsford (Porsche 911) 7.40.40
  20. Hilton/Bourke/Pattenden (Celica) 7.43.20
  21. Roberts/Waterson/Carrol (Commodore) 8.06.32
  22. Jackson/West/Jackson (Commodore) 9.15.38
  23. McCubbin/Kelly/Guyatt (Monaro GTS) 10.36.50
  24. Mizel/Hall/Fricker/Mortimer (Chevy Blazer) 10.54.38
  25. Warmbold/Willemsen/Schleuter (Audi 100SE) 12.25.59

Next: Geraldton to Meekatharra


Ian Richards said...

We awoke in our Perth hotel room at 2.30 am after getting close to 5 hours sleep. I can only imagine what it was like for some of the later arrivals. We were due out of impound at 3.24, thirteenth on the road. We went straight to the Toyota dealership but it was not open! Someone had stuffed up the times and told them 4.15 instead of 3.15! Fortunately the car needed no major work but our service crews were there and we agreed a plan of attack for the next division for which, once again, service access would be difficult and it would even be difficult for the service crews to keep up with us, as they had to drive nearly as far! Police were evident through Perth but fortunately we had plenty of time, arriving at Wanneroo with 5 minutes to spare. Fury was just a couple of cars ahead of us while Carr, Rowney and Mason had yet to arrive so we had already picked up three places to be tenth on the road.
The Wanneroo stage was pretty silly, a sentiment that no doubt would have been echoed by Portman at the time. Wes was driving and saw him off in the sand as we headed around the long right hand loop. A racetrack is an eerie place at night as there is very little for your lights to pick up – a bit like the Nullarbor! We soon headed out on the transport and I began to doze in the back, only to be awoken after about 10 km with a bit of a panic, Geoff shouting “go left”, and lights ahead off the road. Geoff said “it was one of the Cortinas gone straight ahead”. I just went back to sleep and only awoke on the last few km before control which was on a gravel road near Lancelin. It was apparent that Bond had gone off because he was missing from the control card. Davis and Loader arrived after us and no sign of Rowney or Mason.
Wes kept driving but I was awake for all of the stage up to the Cervantes because it was pretty rugged in places, winding through sandy scrub country with limestone rock outcrops a major hazard. We agreed to take it easy and both Davis and Loader passed us. The scenery was superb in the early morning light with waves breaking over the rocky coastline just to our left in a few places. The sand dunes were pure white, seemingly running north-south, and in places we ran along between them. The Fury Cortina was stopped just before the control and Bonhomme waved us down – he asked if we thought there was a problem with the route chart – there had been one instruction about 0.5 km out but it was not of any real consequence. They were trying to see if time lost on the stage might be cancelled so they could do work in the stage – their engine mounts had broken. We lost 17 minutes on a stage which Brock had cleaned but were not really concerned. We were still tenth on the road having passed Bond and Fury, but having been passed by Davis and Loader.
Geoff drove the entertaining transport up to Geraldton while Wes snoozed in the back and I navigated. The roads were certainly roller coaster in places and I kept an eye on the time lest it be another one of those “tight” transports but it was OK. Jurgen Barth tailed us for much of the time in the Porsche 924 except when he was caught at a police radar trap on one piece of tarmac road. Somehow we managed to get the speed down enough to escape penalty! With 20 minutes break in Geraldton we had time for a bit of a walk to get some milkshakes, make some phone calls and chat to other competitors. Our service guys hadn’t arrived yet but the guys from the plane were there.

Ted Smith said...

In Perth we found we had a sticking shock and the only spares were in Darwin, so we started on the competitive stages with the intention of cut and run when our time ran short. Again we had two flats at once when we picked up the wreckage of a barbed wire fence! These two, and the two in Tooborac, were the only punctures we had in the entire event! We had to cut and run after Geraldton all the way to Darwin with shocks that no longer wanted to absorb! Somewhere south of Derby I woke to the car swerving wildly at 140k as Mark narrowly avoided an enormous water buffalo that was simply standing in the middle of the road, just around a bend. At Derby, while refueling, another car came in with a crew still white faced and shaking saying "Did you guys see that buffalo?"! Seems they were going a lot more than 140k when they arrived! We finally arrived in Darwin at about 11.30 pm to be handed a coke and a microphone by the local radio station reporter. we had about 30mins of late time left, just made it!

Ted Smith car 117