The Forester Rally was held on 18 September.
1976 Forester Rally
Jeff Beaumont tells the story…
It would be an intense battle for honours in the non-championship Forester Rally held in Gippsland in mid-September.
A feature of the event was the substantial amount of prizemoney being offered for the quickest on every stage. This certainly attracted a high-class field for a non-championship event. It also created plenty of pressure on drivers to put in an intense effort and it was remarkable to note the variety of drivers picking up some of the “loot“.
The 330 kms of fully route charted rallying also made the event popular.
Waterhouse started the rally with quickest on the first stage, up Mt Tanjil, equal with Roger Bonhomme / Ian Baldock. Ian Smith impressively made fastest time on the run across to Erica. Bonhomme was again quickest up Cowarr Road, then it was Bob Waterhouse’s turn on the run back to Erica.
At the refuel break, it was the Datsuns of Ian Swan and Roger Bonhomme just in front of Bob Waterhouse and Peter Janson.
The second division ran to Tanjil Bren, followed by a rough stage to Willow Grove, then a loop back up to Tanjil Bren.
Waterhouse upped his pace to dominate this second division and finally finish ahead of the field.
After an intense three-way battle, Bob Waterhouse and Paul Paterson finally emerged as winners, just two points ahead of the equal second placegetters.
Ian Swan and Graeme Vaux put in an impressive performance to finish in equal second place with Peter Janson and Ian Richards in Ian Pearson’s borrowed Lancer. Swan and Janson were only separated by seconds on each stage.
Janson was making a welcome return to rallying and ran in this event as a warm-up for the forthcoming Southern Cross Rally.
Bob Watson was entered with Ian Wilson in the latter’s Mitsubishi Colt Fastback. Their run was a warm-up for their entry in the next month’s Holden Dealers International Rally that would run a little further south in Gippsland. After a steady run, they finally finished up in 5th place.