The Holden Dealers 500 Rally of Gippsland was an International rally held on 18 and 19 October.
Jeff Beaumont tells the story..
It was a breathtakingly narrow win for Colin Bond and George Shepherd in the HDT L34 Torana from George Fury / Monty Suffern in the Datsun Rally Team’s 710 SSS. After two hard days of rallying over 200 competitive kilometres, just a mere 20 seconds separated these two top crews.
Directed by Barrie Edmonds, Phil Bernadou and Phil Rainer, and sponsored by the Holden Dealers of Gippsland, the Rally ran entirely in daylight over two days in late October. Because all competitive stages were held on private APM Forests, and not public roads, timing to the second was allowed by CAMS, for the first ever time in Victoria.
The basic concept of the rally was the same as last year’s event, as a spectator oriented rally. Numerous spectator points were nominated, with an excellent set of instructions provided, and easy access to each viewing point.
Two favoured crews, Greg Carr / Wayne Gregson’s Datsun and Bob Watson / Jeff Beaumont’s RS Escort, failed to make it to the start due to after effects from the recent Southern Cross International Rally.
The Saturday start was at Gippsland Folk Museum at Moe, then straight in to the Moe South Plantation, with George Fury setting the pace by just 6 seconds from the L34 Torana. However the 710SS slipped off the road on the second stage with a loss of 20 seconds.
Roger Bonhomme / John Suominen were putting up consistently quick times in the Datspares 1600, with the enthusiastic driving style being very popular with the hordes of spectators. Their efforts ultimately were awarded with a fine third outright placing.
Sunday stages made up the bulk of the stage kilometres. Bond and Fury continued their intense battle, whilst another fierce battle raged for the balance of the top placings.
At the finish, just ten seconds behind Bonhomme, were Garry Harrowfield and Geoff Boyd, scraping in ahead of John Armitage and Bruce Norton after experiencing an alternator problem.