The Invitation Rally was held on 27 February 1971.
1971 VTC Round 1 – HAC Total Invitation Rally
Jeff Beaumont tells the story….
The first round of the Victorian Championship was the hot and dusty Invitation Rally, run over 450 miles through Gippsland, and organized jointly by the Huntingdale Auto Club / Gippsland Car Club, with an excellent field of 73 crews.
This year’s championship looked like a battle between the factory Renault R8 Gordini of Mal McPherson / Roger Bonhomme, and Gil Davis / Peter Haas in the twin cam Cortina. With a couple more strong crews in contention, it promised to be a great fight for the title.
The early stages between Traralgon and Sale caught out many, with a bunch of missed informations and a few WDs .
Mag Editor Len McKay suffered a flat, but he chose to drive on for over ten miles instead of changing it in the dust and heat.
The Davey’s Knob to Winnie Creek stage was most destructive, with a number of crews slipping off the road (Hallifax and Henderson), or bending or breaking components (David Forster and Rex Lunn). Unmapped roads cropped up everywhere, and even top map shufflers Mike Osborne, and Andy Chapman both scored WDs.
At the break at Sale, McPherson / Sharpley were leading comfortably, from Henderson, Len McKay and Matt Philip. Richard Creed’s rallycross Torana GTR was on a hoist with a leaking sump. The Higgins/ Clark VW retired at this point after a heavy roll on the Davey’s Knob stage.
At the next break at Morwell, the placings had little changed. The thick talcum dust gave Gil Davis a tremendous advantage at the front of the field. Great stages followed, such the favourite Tarago Road, which undulates beside the river from Neerim to Gentle Annie Camp.
The final challenging Mt Beenak Loop kept navigators busy, with most stages being cleaned by the top crews.
The event finished at Beaconsfield, where a protest was submitted about the Mia Mia Stage, and was later upheld.