The Marchal Rallye was Victoria’s 1978 Australian Rally Championship round, held on 16-17 December after being postponed from its original August date. Jeff Beaumont tells the story:
ARC Round 6 – 1978 RCCV Marchal Rallye
The 1978 Australian Rally Championship title came down to this very last event of the year, with any four crews able to take the prestigious national title. Just three championship points separated the four “ works “ crews.
The Marchal Rallye was run out of Ballarat, starting from Wendouree Village. 100 kilometres of daylight stages were run in the Creswick Plantations close to Ballarat, giving spectators plenty of spectacular rally action from Australia’s best. The following night stages ran further north in the typical goldfield country around Maryborough and Dunolly, over a maze of tracks lined with tress and stumps, ready to catch any unwary drivers.
George Fury / Monty Suffern retired early in the event with overhead gear failure, leaving Dunkerton and Beaumont being the only serious Datsun contender, particularly as Geoff Portman / Ross Runnalls dropped back after having distributor problems whilst challenging Greg Carr.
Greg Carr / Fred Gocentas in the Ford Team BDA Escort gradually opened up a small lead over Dunkerton’s Datsun Stanza. A little further back in third place was Ford Team boss Colin Bond with John Dawson-Damer.
Victorians Chris Power / Bernard Lakerink in their Brad Boyden Datsun 1600 were performing well, battling with Garry Harrowfield / Roger Bonhomme for the minor placings behind the factory cars. They were closely followed by regular ARC competitors David Jones / Ian Pearson.
The final stages saw Dunkerton putting up a massive effort to score quickest time on the 35 kilometre stage. Carr sensed the threat with an equally strong effort and almost matched the Datsun’s time.
But it was sufficient for Carr and Gocentas to win the event, together with the 1978 National Rally Championship, Greg Carr’s first Title.