The North Eastern Rally was held on October 28.
Round 7 VRC – 1978 NECC North Eastern Rally
Brothers Chris and Simon Brown won their first Championship event, the North Eastern Rally, run in the traditional Alpine territory east of Wangaratta. They scored fairly comfortably from no fewer than four crews who tied for second place, all in Datsun 1600s!
This final VRC event for the year attracted a large field of fifty five crews, many of whom were practicing for the forthcoming Alpine Rally.
The event started with a number of short daylight stages in the Stanley Plantation near Beechworth. With minute timing, there were many crews on the same time.
Whilst the road conditions were almost perfect, the event did not start well for Jim Uttleymoore / Tony Bond who tipped their Lancer on its side just after the competitive start line. The Pearces and Youlden / Ford also rolled their Datsuns in Stanley.
Warwick Smith / Paul Patterson and Mick Ellis / Jim Maude challenged the Brown brother’s times.
Warwick Smith set the pace through the Ovens Plantation, whilst differential problems stopped both Chris Power / Mike Mitchell and Pierre Dalle / Ian Baldock.
Into the night and with longer sections in Stanley and Ovens, VRC champions Warwick Smith together with the Browns were able to take the odd point off other crews.
The final stages took crews into the Merriang and Hurdle Creek Plantations. Smith and Paterson retired with clutch failure in the Lancer allowing the Browns to cruise to a clear victory. Behind them, scores were tight amongst several Grade 2 crews. Both the Richards brothers and the Fitchers put in inspired drives on the final long stage through Hurdle Creek to match the Browns’ time and to move into an equal second place together with Ellis/Maude and McLean/Thomas.