The Overture Rally was held on Sunday February 1.
1976 LCCA Overture Rally
As its named indicated, the Overture was the first event of the year and was intended as a shakedown for the forthcoming season. Directed by Ian Richards, the Overture was a new concept in Victorian rallying with a full day of closed road daylight special stages with maximum spectator opportunities.
Run in the Mount Disappointment Forest just to the north of Melbourne, there were no fewer than 36 spectator points, many within easy walking distance of each other.
The new Datsun Rally Team, under the direction of new boss Howard Marsden made its debut at the event.
The event was won by George Fury and Monty Suffern in the factory Datsun 710 by a proverbial country mile. The best of the rest was Wayne Muldoon with Tony Walsham in a Datsun 1600.
It was a day of contrasts, with initial fine warm weather. However, half way through the day the heavens opened and turned the dusty tracks into treacherous paths to ruin!
Many crews were running their cars for the first time, preparing for the year ahead.
Wayne Muldoon / Tony Walsham’s Datsun 1600 had a fresh and powerful 1800 motor. Peter Evans / Chris Maniatakis opened their score sheet with a fine third place. They too had just fitted a bigger motor in the Datsun 1600, a popular upgrade.
Others were in trouble. Whilst holding down a potential podium placing, Phil Bernadou and Phil Rainer broke a front strut in their 1600 and retired.
Tie rod breakages seemed common with Chris and Simon Brown suffering a failure. Then Gil Davis had the same issue, causing the car to slide off the road in the slippery conditions.
Helmet Goetz and Peter McFadzen lost the brakes in their Gemini and ended up in the trees after slipping off on a muddy corner.
Meanwhile the new Datsun 710 forged ahead to victory with impressive and spectacular speed combined with reliability. A fine debut, indeed.