The Cooper Memorial was held on 20 November 1971.
1971 VTC Round 7 – WDCC Cooper Memorial Trial
Jeff Beaumont takes up the story….
This year’s Victorian Championship came down to the very last event of seven rounds. As the season progressed, it was becoming a two-crew battle.
Gil Davis and Peter Haas began the campaign in their Cortina, then progressed to a V8 Monaro for the later events.
Mal McPherson started the season with Robin Sharpley, then engaged Roger Bonhomme for the remainder of the season.
Going into the final round, the driver’s title was open, with Gil on 29 points, and Mal on 27½. It was winner take all! In the navigators title, Peter Haas held a handy lead but could still be overtaken by Roger Bonhomme or Mike Mitchell.
During the season a fancied new crew had arrived. Tony Roberts and Jim McAuliffe had obtained a Volvo 142S rally car for use in this state series, with a mid-season debut. After a couple of strong placings, they scored an impressive first victory in this Cooper Memorial Rally. As car one, they led from start to finish.
With 46 entries, the rally started at Trevor Stanley Motors in Geelong and finished at the WDCC club rooms in West Geelong. It ran down through the Otways, through Heytesbury and with a break at Lorne. In the second division a central control was based at Gellibrand.
Local crew Laurie Sorahan and Graham Harrison were running well at the front of the field until an axle problem forced their retirement.
Bob Watson / Jeff Beaumont had joined the event, as support for their team mate McPherson. Whilst putting up some quick times in the first Division, they had a few issues during the Rally. After hitting a creek crossing rather hard, the rear windscreen of their Renault R8 Gordini popped out early in the second Division. It then became very noisy, with an uncomfortable icy blast all the way to the finish. However, their efforts were finally rewarded with a third place podium finish.
Gil Davis and Peter Haas arrived at the finish in fourth place, with a solid run in the big V8 Monaro. But is was not enough to hold on to the title.
McPherson / Bonhomme had a consistent and trouble-free run, and finished in second place behind the Volvo. McPherson scored sufficient points to win the driver’s title by 1½ championship points from Gil Davis.
Peter Haas won the Navigator’s Title for a second time.