The 1979 Begonia Rally was held on March 3 and 4
1979 BLCC Begonia Rally
The popular two-day Begonia Rally was a fully daylight non-championship event, and attracted a high quality field of Victorian crews.
The 42 stage rally was convincingly won by Geoff Portman, with Canberra’s Wayne Gregson In the navigator’s seat. The battle for second place was fiercely fought, with Chris Power / Bernard Lackerink finally triumphant.
The first special stage was held in Victoria Park in front of about one thousand spectators, being mostly bitumen with a bit of loose gravel thrown in as well. Hugh Bell took fastest, with Portman and John Armitage just a few seconds behind.
Crews then headed to Creswick Forest for a series of sections, followed by more special stages in Cobblers Gully. Portman / Gregson continued their strong charge to be head of the field. Hugh Bell came to grief when a tie rod broke and he rolled heavily off the road.
Garry Harrowfield / Noel Richards had been going well, until they broke an accelerator cable, followed by a puncture, dropping them to tenth place.
Portman and Armitage won two stages each to finish Saturday’s running. Chris Power, Warwick Smith and Bob Watson ( Peugeot 504 Turbo ) were next at the main service break.
Sunday’s running took crews south to Durham Lead and Shepherds Flat. Harrowfield was determined to make up time after the previous days problems and was setting some impressive times against Portman and Armitage. He finally fought back to fourth.
Stages around Smythesdale then Happy Valley followed but John Armitage ended his fine run by hitting a large tree quite heavily and retired.
The final run was a short stage through Sago Hill Quarry in front of a mob of spectators, with local hero Garry Harrowfield being quickest.