The Penfold Motors Trial was held on 3 March. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:
VRC Round 1 – 1973 RCCV Penfold Motors Trial
A classy field of 45 crews had entered this 250 mile rally, to be run through Victoria’s north eastern ranges. Rally Director was Geoff Schmidt on behalf of the Renault Car Club.
The field included 12 grade one crews, including reigning champions Gil Davis / Peter Haas driving a Datsun 180B SSS for the newly formed Datsun Rally Team.
Bob Watson was overseas, so Tony Roberts took over the driving duties in the factory R12 Gordini, with Jeff Beaumont navigating.
Peter Janson, “Wild “ Bill Evans, George Fury, Gil Davis and Bob Bird took it in turns to score best times through the Strathbogies, Warby Ranges and the Killawarra Forest stages to the division break at Wangaratta. A few fancied crews missed a passage control on a triangulated intersection in the Strathbogies and another on an unmapped laneway south of Glenrowan.
The factory R12 Gordini was leading at Wangaratta down 11 points, with Tony Roberts quickly getting used to the front wheel drive Renault. Second was Fury on 15, then Davis on 16, Harrowfield 17 and Bond on 19.
The second division headed east from Wangaratta through the dusty hardwood forests north of Beechworth before heading south to Myrtleford. However the Renault crew took a longer route getting to Barwidgee Creek Control, which dropped them down the score board.
Three stages were held in the Merriang and Running Creek area before heading across Cropper Gap to Whitfield. Crews were well behaved through a Quite Zone near Whitfield. Davis was setting fastest times to maintain the lead while Philip was flying to surge into third place.
The crews left Whitfield for the run home to the finish, via several easy stages through Myrrhee, Upper Fifteen Mile Creek, and Toombullup.
The young Grade Three crew of David Bond / Ian Richards surprised many with a fast and consistent run throughout the event, and were awarded with an excellent second placing in only their second event together.