Sydney to the Victorian border

The late afternoon departure from the Sydney Showgrounds turned to farce when the officials had neither a starting order nor route instructions ready for the 5.00 pm scheduled departure. In the end, the first car actually departed at 5.46 pm. This included the one hour service allowance, with the notional departure time of 6.00 pm being delayed until 6.46 pm. The late departure was welcome for many crews who reported that they had not received booked wake-up calls at their hotels and had so overslept. The evening would be mostly driving down through Canberra to the Victorian border where the real competition for the division would be held, but two special stages were included along the way.

N1 – Sydney Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
58.6 km1 hour 25 minutes7.25 pm Friday
Delayed to 8.11 pm
Click here

The early cars were thrown into Sydney’s Friday peak hour traffic but had ample time given that a nominal hour of service time was included. Crews were headed for Oran Park Raceway near Camden for a “publicity” special stage and plenty of time was allowed for the transport. Chaos reigned supreme at Oran Park as crews were directed the wrong way to the control to check in, but it kind of worked out in the end. There was a seemingly random time hold here as crews were given the opportunity to do a practice run over the stage before the real timed run.
Of the 92 cars in the event, plus the "running under protest" Carter:

  • 85 cars arrived at Oran Park on time
  • 4 were late or early at Oran Park
  • 4 skipped Oran Park, of which two (Webster, Donoghue) headed directly to Albury, one (Moore) picked up the two Canberra controls and then headed for Albury and one (Lunney) picked up the last special stage at Beechworth before Albury.

N2 - Oran Park Special Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
3.0 km2 minutes7.27 pm Friday
Delayed to 8.13 pm
Depart 8.30 pm
Click here

Oran Park was a low point of the event for the organisers - the stage was poorly organised, the officials didn't seem to know what they were doing and with only one gate to the circuit open there were ridiculous traffic snarls. With cars doing a practice run, they were run at minutes intervals on this “mickey mouse” stage that first meandered around the perimeter track in a clockwise direction, diving right through a ditch then hard left through a gate, then around the back of an embankment to join the bitumen circuit which was followed for half a lap. Towards the end, coming down the hill after the dogleg, cars beared left onto the grass between bunting and witches hats, rejoining the main straight to finish at the normal start/finish line. There was a stop control where you could turn right and meander back through the pits to the start or to head off onto the next transport. Today Oran Park is a housing estate!
There was a reasonable crowd in attendance and they hopefully got some entertainment because it was pretty much a waste of time for the crews. This was even more so when the timing seemed to be stuffed up and in the end, all penalties were deleted.

N3 – Federal Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
260.7 km3 hours 30 minutes10.57 pm Friday
Delayed to 12.00 midnight
Click here

The first car departed Oran Park at about 8.30 pm on the leisurely run down to Canberra through Goulburn (no bypass back then). It was a fine but cold night and would be near freezing in and around Canberra. Traffic was light and with adequate time allowed, no-one had reason to be pushing too hard. However, there was a considerable delay at the Canberra refuel at the BP Braddon where a huge crowd had gathered to see the late night passage of the cars. The start of the special stage was just west of the city on Cotter Road, at a location familiar to all those who had competed in or spectated on the Castrol Rallies. The first car started the Canberra Special Stage at almost exactly 12 midnight.
Jackson dropped a minute, Mizel 8 minutes, but all the other leaders were on time. In total about thirty cars were late on the transport, some very late obviously dealing with car problems. Fury in particular lost 16 minutes, about half their loss for the division. An additional three cars (Bryson, Bird, McTigue) skipped Canberra altogether, heading for Albury, no doubt much delayed, except for Bryson and Cable-Cumming who were doing a tour of the capital cities as a strange kind of honeymoon.

N4 – Canberra Special Stage

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
16.5 km12 minutes11.09 pm Friday
Delayed to 12.12 am Saturday
Click here

Conditions in Greenhills Plantation were excellent with a bit of light rain and roads that were slippery without being treacherous. The special stage was almost a loop, starting and finishing at almost the same location on Cotter Road, running up the east side alongside Tuggeranong Parkway and returning through the maze of roads of the plantation. Towards the end it turned left before the famous yumping grid. There were a lot of spectators around the forest and many flashes as photographers caught the cars. Today the southern part of the stage has been subsumed by the new suburb of Coombs and the northern part is now the National Arboretum, so the stage is largely inaccessible.
Unsurprisingly, Greg Carr was the quickest by a considerable margin. Dunkerton was second quickest, conscious that his fourth place was potentially under threat from Carr, but in reality the scores were in such disarray that no-one could be really sure! Of the other leaders, Watson and Mizel were quite slow, as was Portman. This was Portman's third last stage and with the battered Stanza almost literally held together by duct tape, the show at Canberra was just for the crowd and they then decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valour and headed directly to Mitta Mitta to contest the final two competitive stages. Had they decided to do the whole route they were concerned that a suspension failure might have resulted in a non-finish, but in any case they would have likely dropped back to about 10th. A total of 83 cars completed the special stage with all but 2 under 10 minutes. Certainly times started to extend as the field went through, perhaps as a result of the rain and the passage of cars making the surface rather slimy. Three cars picked up the end control from the wrong direction without doing the stage and two of them (Hayden and Moore) subsequently headed for Albury, the third (Walker), apparently out of late time, skipped to Buchan where the late time limit increased to 5 hours.

Fastest times:

  • Carr 0.28
  • Dunkerton 1.21
  • Fury 1.23
  • Brock 1.31
  • Mehta (Aaltonen) 1.34
  • Ferguson 1.58
  • Tholstrup 2.25 (?)
  • Johnson 2.38
  • Herrmann 2.43
  • Giddings 2.50
  • Nalder (Richards)2.51
  • Clarke 2.56
  • Rowney 3.06
  • Davis 3.13
  • Beveridge 3.16
  • Jackson 3.21
  • Glover 3.28
  • Faulkner, Hurrey 3.32
  • Miettunen 3.33
  • Garner 3.38
  • Barth 3.40
  • Stockley 3.44
  • Roberts, Kahler 3.48 (typo in results?)
  • Boaden 3.50
  • Goldsborough 3.63
  • Lahiff 3.54
  • Boys 3.56
  • Taylor 3.58
  • Lockhart 4.07
  • McCubbin 4.16
  • Foden 4.18
  • Neilson 4.23
  • Meehan 4.33
  • Sheridan 4.44
  • Loader, Murray 4.46
  • Portman 4.48

N5 – Victoria Transport

DistanceTime allowedFirst car dueMap
260.4 km3 hours 2 minutes2.11 am Saturday
Delayed to 3.14 am Saturday
Click here

It was another long transport down through Cooma, Bombala and Delegate to just over the Victorian border at Delegate River. For the first 13 km crews meandered through the southern suburbs of Canberra before joining the Monaro Highway. The final 15 km was gravel but the time allowed was quite adequate.
Of the leaders, only Davis was 1 minute late. Further back there were plenty of crews late, perhaps as a result of car problems or just plain crew fatigue. For example, Meehan was almost an hour late. However many other crews had perhaps examined the remote loop into Victoria for which there was relatively little service access and relatively little chance of escape. As a consequence, about twenty crews (including Portman) that had visted the Canberra controls decided to then skip, either to Albury, or in a few cases to Mitta Mitta or Yackandandah to pickup up one or two extra stages. So in the end, 65 cars went to Delegate River.

The main change on the leaderboard as crews re-entered Victoria for the first time in almost two weeks was the absence of Portman. In fact the only subsequent change in the placings was that Herrmann overtook his teammate Barth, while Davis almost (and perhaps did) lost 10th place to Watson:

  1. Brock/Philip/Richards(Commodore) 3.20.28
  2. Ferguson/Bell/Boddy (Commodore) 3.26.54
  3. Mehta/Aaltonen/Lake (Commodore) 4.35.35
  4. Dunkerton/McKay/Jones (Volvo 244) 8.34.34
  5. Carr/Morrow/Gocentas (Cortina) 9.05.09
  6. Nalder/Richards/Boyd (Celica) 9.22.14
  7. Loader/Hill/Neale (Lancer) 11.51.12
  8. Barth/Kushmaul (Porsche 924) 12.09.11
  9. Herrmann/Rainsford (Porsche 911) 12.13.44
  10. Davis/Eather/Toner (Datsun 180B) 13.15.14
  11. Watson/Harrowfield (Peugeot 504 Diesel) 15.15.00
  12. Mizel/Hall/Fricker/Mortimer (Chevy Blazer) 24.42.21
  13. Jackson/West/Jackson (Commodore) 27.57.49

Next: Victorian Border to Albury

1 comment:

Ian Richards said...

Someone must have forgotten to book our wake-up call in Sydney because we were awoken by the Toyota man knocking on our door at 4.20 pm. We frantically showered and packed and were soon at the impound ready and lined up for the 5 pm departure. When the start was delayed, at least it was a good chance to relax and chat to others. It was dark by the time we departed at 5.56 pm. We followed the route chart out to Liverpool but then diverged to do our service at the Peter Williamson dealership where Dick and Steve were already unpacked and organised with extra helpers. Admittedly there was not a lot to do to the car which was running faultlessly, but we certainly got new tyres and it was even washed. I worked on the route instructions and agreed some extra places for the service guys to meet us. Wes continued to drive out to Oran Park which was complete chaos, as well as driving the silly special stage twice. Wes seemed to have a good time but gave the gateway a bit of a scare! After our second run we immediately headed out, Wes still at the wheel and Geoff navigating.
I slept soundly and only awoke when we stopped briefly in Goulburn. I then drove through to the Canberra refuel, travelling in the company of the two Porsches through somewhat heavy traffic around Lake George. Wes and Geoff were asleep when I pulled into the hugely crowed BP Braddon but they quickly awoke and organised fuel while I chatted to my aunt and uncle who live around the corner and had brought us food if we could only get across the road to where they were parked. I eventually drove over next to where they were parked but we only had five minutes spare and then I drove down to the start of the special stage on the Cotter Road, taking the Tuggeranong Parkway route instead of going through the city. We could see the first cars heading northwards alongside the parkway on the special stage as we headed southwards. We started the stage at 12.09 am.
I drove the special stage through Greenshills plantation which was good fun but I didn’t push hard. The roads are quite fast and it was a bit slippery in places. We were consistent and still did the tenth quickest time. I continued to drive the transport southwards with Wes asleep in the back and Geoff navigating me across to the Monaro Highway after which he went to sleep also. I didn’t even wake anyone as we went through Cooma, quite gently actually, because there were plenty of police around. I was feeling really good and not tired. We got to the start control of the first trial stage with 10 minutes to spare. The control was being run by the Chrysler Car Club with familiar faces such as Colin Hardinge and David Jones. Wes settled into the driver’s seat for the next stage which we started at 3.27 am.