The Experts was held on 9 July. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:
VRC Round 3 – ’77 LCCA Semperit Experts
Geoff Portman and Ross Runnalls won the 1977 Semperit Experts Trial by a clear margin, from Peter Corkran and Ian Ellis in their impressive 2 litre Lancer.
Mike Mitchell directed the event, capably assisted by Steve Hollowood, on behalf of the Light Car Club. The event attracted 45 entries, half of which completed the full course within late running time
The six daylight stages totalled 120 kms, and began with a blast around Granite Park Speedway at Seymour, with Cliff Stephens / Chris Maniatakis quickest in their Torana. It was then followed up by fully route charted sections through the Puckapunyal Range area, with its unpredictable crests and brows. The furious competition attracted a big bunch of spectators. The daylight stages were timed to the quarter minute.
Gil Davis / David Long emerged as quickest, from Chris Power / Mick Brasier. They were followed by Greg Sinclair ( Escort ), Jones / Marsh, Muldoon and Smith, and Ian Swan / Paul Paterson, then Portman / Runnalls. John Dixon / Ian Richards had been quickest on the first Pucka stage but then suffered clutch failure which required replacement at the service point, ruining any chance of a good result.
Car zero for the daylight stages was circuit racer John Harvey, with navigator Ian Heraud, in the HDT Torana L34 Rally Car. He had an absolute ball, and even put up some good stage times!
The night Division of 250 kilometres contained serious goldfields navigation around the Heathcote, Greytown and Whroo Forests. The sections were short and sharp, requiring precise navigation. Portman set a scorching pace, with Runnalls being spot-on with his instructions. Harrowfield/Boyd and Corkran/Ellis were next best over the night division with Dixon/Richards fourth, but back in 11th overall after their earlier clutch failure.
Ian Smith / Jim Maude were leading at Majors Line by just a single point from the ultimate winners but later lost time with a few mechanical problems. Davis had lost some time with navigation, and Swan had missed a passage.
The final six sections formed a complicated loop around Costerfield, where Portman and Runnalls consolidated their lead, finishing the event with a 15 point margin.