The Repco Alpine International Rally was held on 25-27 November.
This year’s three-day Alpine Rally was again organized by the Light Car Club, with Ian Richards as Director. A total of 127 applications were received, but this number was eventually whittled down to 100 starters, the maximum allowed.
The rally result was a double victory for the Ford Rally Team, with Greg Carr / Fred Gocentas winning from team boss Colin Bond / John Dawson-Damer. It was Carr’s third Alpine victory in a row, a very impressive feat indeed.
In third place were privateers Chris Power and Mick Brasier, an outstanding effort in their Brad Boyden Datsun 1600.
An interesting entry was that of local car builder Purvis Eureka. They entered their Eureka PL30 model sports car, a fiberglass body on a VW platform, and powered by a 1600 Lotus Twin Cam engine. Driven by John Dixon, this new “ special “ acquitted itself quite well, despite some minor engine issues.
The Repco Alpine Rally started from Government House in Melbourne.
Reef Hills was the first competitive. Greg Carr took advantage of his dust-free starting position, and opened up a lead that he never really relinquished.
The route the progressed to Warrenbayne Plantation before heading down to Whitfield then on to Merriang. A spectacular retirement was that of Graham Trounce and Lloyd Minifie, who rolled their Dastun 1600, dangerously ending up on the edge of a 60 foot drop.
Dust had been a serious hazard during the night, as the cars arrived around midnight for the overnight break at Bright. The two Ford Team Escorts were leading from Bob Watson / Wayne Gregson in the Gerry Ball Datsun 120Y, then Kenjiro Shinozuka and Gary Connelly in the Ralliart entered Lancer.
Division Two started at 12.30 pm on Saturday afternoon. In very hot conditions, the action began with laps around the Bright Showgrounds track. Fastest was Bob Bird’s Lancer, followed by Bob Buck’s Escort 2000. A spectacular display was put up by John Sproule’s EH Holden, fitted with full XU-1 running gear.
With cars being visible for about 15 minutes each, the spectators were treated to some excellent viewing as the cars traversed the Buckland Valley area, with the natural amphitheatre providing the scene.
The extreme heat of the afternoon began to take its toll, with Roger Bonhomme and Ian Herard damaging its engine, and Bob Waterhouse and Murray Coote both suffering overheating in their Datsuns. After being in fourth position at Bright, David Jones managed to roll his Lancer and retired. Peter Corkran / Ian Ellis had a fuel blockage, then blew a gearbox in their Lancer.
The three leaders had not changed positions at the end of Division Two.
Soon after the start of Division Three the leaders were in trouble. Carr had an oil line replaced at service, and lost his leading position on the road. Then Colin Bond had a puncture, so Bob Watson became first car on the road. Shinozuka then retired with a broken driveshaft, as the field blasted across the fast and slippery roads across towards Chiltern, then down into Stanley Plantation.
Heading into Ovens Plantation and over Mount Porepunkah, Watson had gained time due to his front running on the road, and was now up into second place, splitting the factory Escorts.
Crews left Bright on Sunday morning for the final Division. Through Merriang, Greg Carr was still having oil line problems, and he repaired his car on the roadside. Colin Bond stopped to help as Watson roared into the lead on the road. Carr then set a very hot pace attempting to regain the lead.
However Watson was doomed for major disappointment. With just two competitives remaining, his Datsun refused to climb an incline due to a failed clutch. Their very fine run had sadly ended.
This put Chris Power in the Brad Boyden Datsun out in front on the road. He had been putting up a string of great times, and his third outright placing just behind Colin Bond was very well deserved.