The Begonia Rally was held on 9 February. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:
VRC Round 1 – 1974 LCCA(Ball) Begonia Rally
Recently promoted crews from last year were at the top of the results after the first round of the 1974 Victorian Rally Championship, the Begonia Rally, held around Ballarat and Beaufort.
The new pairing of locals Garry Harrowfield and Geoff Boyd, in their 2 litre Cortina led home the field from Bob Bird and Warwick Smith in their familiar XU-1.
The 160 mile first division of the Begonia started with unexpected drama. Tony Roberts and Jim McAuliffe (Saab 99) and Glen Olsen and Ian Richards (BMW 2002) were both late arriving at the start so incurred penalties even before the start!
And John Armitage and Frank Kilfoyle forgot to formally book in at the start. Then with fuel pump issues during the rally, it was an event they wanted to forget.
At the end of the first division at Beaufort, Harrowfield’s Cortina led from defending Champions Bob Watson / Jeff Beaumont, in their debut run in the Datsun Rally Team 180B SSS, one of the ex Southern Cross cars. Grade two crew of John Coleman / Bernie Peasley were performing well in 6th place.
The second division of 140 miles ran through Mt Cole forestry area, with fast driving required, combined with quick and accurate map reading. The engine in Watson’s Datsun suddenly stopped when the distributor fell apart, requiring a roadside rebuild in the dark. He lost 26 minutes in the process.
Harrowfiled’s new 2 litre Cortina Mark II broke an alternator bracket, ending up with a flat battery and an unscheduled stop, fortunately with minimal loss of time. George Fury and Monty Suffern tangled with a kangaroo, costing them time for repairs. Bob Bird and Warwick Smith had a clean run, as did Bill Stownix and David Hodge, both in Torana XU-1 models.
The Ballarat Light Cat Club had run a good event that demonstrated the depth of the competition in the 1974 Victorian Rally Championship series.