The Gippsland Rally was held on November 16. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:
VRC Round 8 – 1974 RACV 500 Gippsland Rally
Quickly following the outstanding success of the recent Don Capasco Rally held in Canberra, a group of competitors from the RACV Young Motorists Club, led by Philip Bernadou and Phil Rainer, with Barrie Edmonds as the Clerk of Course, planned and conducted a superb special stage rally in central Gippsland.
Excessive rain had forced the postponement of the event to mid November and was the eighth and final round of the Victorian Rally Championship. Prior to this event, the series had already been won by Garry Harrowfield and Geoff Boyd in their 2 litre Cortina.
This new one day, 30 stage rally certainly caught the attention of Victorian rally crews and a full field of fifty crews had entered, together with a few interstate competitors.
In this all-daylight event, spectators were well catered for, with ten viewing points and an impressive set of Spectator Instructions available. A PA system at several points, commentated by Roger Bonhomme added to the excitement.
With a total competitive distance of 180 kilometres, the Rally started at Traralgon and was run south of the Princes Highway entirely in the private APM forests, thus allowing timing to the second.
The first Division headed east to Flynn, then across into a group of stages in the Holey Plains Forests between Rosedale and Longford. Tony Roberts / Jim McAuliffe were performing well until they deranged the front end of their Saab. Mal McPherson and Bob Watson were having a bit of fun, swapping seats during the event in their Renault R12 Gordini.
George Fury and Monty Suffern (Datsun 710) jumped away from the start, and dominated this fully route charted event. They opened up a four minute lead at the half way break at Flynns Creek Tree Farm, and held their advantage in the afternoon Division to ultimately win by over six minutes.
The battle for minor placings was intense, with just seconds separating the battling crews.
The closed forest roads were mostly sandy and a little dusty but featured a few boggy stages during the early morning running which trapped a few crews.
Light rain started falling during the afternoon Division, which reduced speeds on the treacherous long, fast plantation roads south of Traralgon.
The tussle for podium positions finally saw Mr Autosport John Armitage with Jeff Beaumont navigating snatch 2nd place by just 4 seconds from Bob Bird and Warwick Smith (XU-1), with Ted Anderson / Tony Wunderlich in an impressive fourth place in their big engine Datsun 1000.