The Summer Stages was held on 5 February.
1978 LCCA (Ballarat) Summer Stages
This was the third of three Summer Stages directed by Ross Runnalls and Geoff Boyd before the event morphed into the Begonia Special Stage Rally the following year. Although timed to the second, scoring was to the minute.
Garry Harrowfield and Noel Richards threw out an early warning to all Victorian rally crews by winning the “ warm up “ rally for the 1978 season.
Run in early February by the Ballarat Branch of the Light Car Club of Australia, the event was an all-daylight affair run in the Beaufort and Mount Cole areas and directed by Ross Runnalls.
The event started in Ballarat and headed for the Sago Hill Quarry for the first special stage, where a big group of spectators were in attendance.
Peter Evans / Chris Maniatakas were quickest in their Datsun 1600 but suffered a light roll on a later stage.
After a quick run through a paddock adjacent the the Langi Kal Kal prison farm crews headed to Beaufort for a short goldfields style forest stages before heading north into the Mount Cole forest. Engine problems forced the retirement of the Datsun of Hugh Bell / Steve Hollowood.
Five stages followed through the western area of Mt Cole, before charging up the infamous Fiery Creek Road to the service area.
Four further stages through the pine plantations and over Mount Lonarch saw a number of crews encounter problems. This included Ian Richards (light roll) and Mal McPherson with a leaking radiator. Roger Bonhomme / Ian Heroud had a bigger problem when their Datsun 1600 executed a double roll on Avoca River Road and retired. After service, three more stages were tackled in Mount Cole including a repeat of two earlier stages.
On the way back to Ballarat, Langi Kal Kal was run in reverse, followed by a great spectator stage around a paddock and through a sand pit.
After 16 special stages, the final competitive saw Garry Harrowfield take fastest time and clinch the rally win. The victors were followed closely by Warwick Smith and young Bryce Norton (son of Bruce ) who had put in a consistent performance. Chris Power and Mike Mitchell won five of the Special Stages and finally finished in third place.