The Marchal Rallye was held on May 15.
ARC Round 2 – 1976 RCCV Marchal Rallye
The 1976 Marchal was conducted out of Ballarat with daylight stages in the Creswick Plantations and night stages in the tight goldfields forests around Maryborough. While the event was won by George Fury and Monty Suffern in the Datsun 710, the vehicle was ineligible for ARC points, which were taken by second placed Ross Dunkerton and Jeff Beaumont in a Datsun 240Z. The full story follows ….
This second round of the 1976 Australian Rally Championship was directed by Colin Wilson and sponsored by Autosport Box Hill, the distributor of Marchal driving lights.
The event started at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and initially ran around Scarsdale, then on through the northern flat country up to Maryborough, followed by runs through the Creswick Forest.
A feature of the event was the very tight route charts which kept the navigators on their toes.
The race for this year’s Australian Rally Championship saw Dean Rainsford and Graham West win the opening round in Western Australia. Their main foe, Ross Dunkerton, broke his suspension and retired, so it was critical for him to score maximum points here in the Marchal Rallye. He and Jeff Beaumont achieved that goal in their left hand drive factory Datsun 260Z, winning strongly.
George Fury and Monty Suffern were running a new Datsun Rally Team 710, but were not eligible for ARC points as this model had not yet been homologated. However they actually scored the lowest points loss for the event.
The “glamour“ entry of the event was Ron Marks’ Lancia Stratos. Whilst the exotic Italian sounded fantastic, it finally retired with electrical issues.
During the event Greg Carr’s Datsun 180B was plagued by an occasional engine miss, then a wrong turn, but he struggled on into third place. Evan Green was running a pretty new Alfetta GT, but got lost in one stage and then ran out of fuel!
Ed Mulligan’s L34 Torana broke an axle, then Ballarat based Garry Harrowfield and Geoff Boyd retired with a holed sump and engine damage in their Renault R12 Gordini. Brake problems affected both the Datsun 1600 of Roger Bonhomme / Paul Paterson and the Gemini of Helmut Goetz / Frank Kilfoyle.
The battle at the front was intense between Fury and the three leading ARC contenders, with Dunkerton getting his title chase back on track with a close victory and maximum ARC points.