The George Derrick was held on 24 June.
VRC Round 4 – 1978 George Derrick Memorial Trial
Controversial win to Power/Mitchell
Chris and Simon Brown were declared winners of the 1978 Derrick which finished in cold and drizzly weather at Mt Cole on Sunday morning in June. However, their glory was short-lived. It appears that they were given some time allowance on one of the daylight sections but a successful protest had this allowance disallowed, giving the win to Chris Power and Mike Mitchell, with the Browns being relegated to third behind eventual championship winners, Warwick Smith and Paul Paterson.
The Derrick was directed by Noel Richards on behalf of the Car Club of RMIT. Fifty crews started the rally at midday in Ballarat, then headed off to the competitive start at Ben Major Forest west of Lexton. The top group all dropped three minutes along the fast and cresty first competitive.
The action then moved into the Mount Cole state forest where rain had made the clay roads impossibly slippery and many crews slid straight past a tight turn left on top of Mount Lonarch. Pierre Dalle and Ian Baldock dropped a bunch of time whilst Mike Heny retired the Civic with a broken gearbox.
The leading group were still tightly bunched but the first real problems were struck up Sandersons and Camp Roads. Peter Corkran slipped off the road, needing his winch to get back on. However the winch jammed, thus blocking the track for the following competitors. Finally the cable was cut, allowing crews through.
A loop around Ben Nevis included a dangerous and slippery descent, which saw Colin Sichlau reshape the boot of his Fiat when he slipped off backwards.
At the end of the daylight Division, Portman / Blandford led from the Browns (although they were really further back) and Chris Power / Mike Mitchell, then John Armitage / Phil Rainer and Steve Ashton / Ross Runnalls.
The night Division commenced with a long transport towards St Arnaud. Several sections in the St Arnaud forest, split by a refuel, were cleaned by most of the leaders.
Next came the monster 76 km meandering navigation stage down through the Tottington, Bolangum, Morrl Morrl and Glynwylln forests. Consistency of navigation and driving was required, with Chris Power and Mike Mitchell taking the leader with a cleansheet, followed by Pearce/Pearce and Richards/Niblett each dropping a minute. David Jones had retired with a blown clutch, whilst Garry Harrowfield bogged his Datsun on a tricky, grassy easement.
The final section before the Stawell refuel contained tight tracks in the Darlington Mine Forest, where a group of crews all dropped 3 minutes to be best. On the run across to Ararat, Portman had a mechanical issue and lost some time.
A quick run around Mount Langi Ghiran and into Mt Cole found roads still slippery from earlier use. On the final section, a loop from the finish up towards Mount Lonarch, Chris Power slipped off, losing 3 minutes more than Brown and Smith. Others also got bogged and slipped off the messy tracks, making it an eventful final stage of this challenging rally.