1972 Experts Trial

The Experts was held on 1 July. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:

VRC Round 3  –  1972  LCCA  Experts Trial

This Experts has always been regarded as one of the toughest events on the calendar and an almighty challenge to win. The 1972 event certainly lived up to its reputation, probably being the toughest yet. Heavy snow actually threatened the running of the Experts, held in mid winter in the Murrindindi and Marysville forest areas.

This event was directed by Jim McAuliffe in his farewell to motorsport, having navigated so successfully for Bob Watson for the past six years that included one national championship and three Victorian championship titles. This Experts used “shortest mapped route” and was a massive challenge both for navigators and drivers. The navigation was so challenging that some check points only saw a few competitors during the night.

The Experts started at Christmas Hills motorcycle track and attracted a good mix of Victorian crews and included circuit ace Peter Brock with Frank Kilfoyle navigating, as a training run for the Dulux Rally later in the year.

The field headed off into the wet and muddy tracks of the Murrindindi Forest. It was a massive challenge to simply get to the control points. Most cars became stuck at some stage with chains in regular use. Some cars were recovered by tractors the next day.

After the halfway break the event headed towards Lake Mountain where the first cars were greeted by a heavy covering of snow. Later cars turned back. Many cars suffered from boiling due to the slow speeds and heavy loading through the snow. Peter Janson burnt out his clutch trying to get out of a snowy bog! 

Ultimately from 34 starters, only three crews found all of the controls within their late time limit.

Despite missing three check points and one wrong direction, Bob Watson and Geoff Thomas won the event in their Peugeot 504 from Gil Davis and Peter Haas in their XU-1 Torana and John Dixon / Chris Jessup in the Escort 1600.

The Teams Award was won by Team Renault consisting of Bob Watson/Geoff Thomas. Mal McPherson/Jeff Beaumont (Renault R12 Gordini) and David Chettle/Laurie Comerford (Renault 16TS).

Auto Action Report

1972 Experts winners, Watson and Thomas (Photo: Chris Brown)
Davis/Haas placed second in the Experts (Photo: Chris Brown)
Dixon/Jessup placed third in the Experts (Photo: Chris Brown)
Philip/Bonhomme ultimately placed fifth (Photo: Paul Harrington)

Results and entry list

1Bob WatsonGeoff ThomasPeugeot 504571
2Gil DavisPeter HaasTorana XU-1686
3John DixonChris JessupEscort691
4David ChettleLaurie ComerfordRenault 16TS711
5Matt PhilipRoger BonhommeTorana XU-1720
6Peter BrockFrank KilfoyleTorana XU-1852