The North Eastern Rally was held on May 26.
VRC Round 4 – NECC North Eastern Rally
Smith takes North Eastern win
This year’s North Eastern was a traditional event, being fully route charted, and run entirely in the pine plantations of Ovens, Stanley and Merriang. Ably directed by Bill Aggenbach, the challenging rally consisted of 90 kilometres of competitive daylight stages, with the balance of around 180 planned kilometres run at night.
However, the event was run in pouring rain, with extremely slippery conditions, making some of the route barely possible. As a consequence the event was shortened, with a number of stage cancellations.
From the Ovens Roadhouse, just seven of the original starters reached the finish at Tarrawingee inside late running time. A further 21 crews completed the course, but were outside their running time.
Jim Uttleymoore was the first retirement when his engine seized whilst unloading the car off the trailer at the start.
Warwick Smith / Paul Paterson won the event, after an excellent drive in the treacherous conditions. Following their consistent performances in previous rounds, they now lead the Championship, and look good to take out their second successive Victorian Title.
In second place were locals Phil Rodgers and Mike Rebbechi in their Datsun 1600.
Chris Power was fancied to do well, but slid off the road on a blind left-hander, then broke his diff shortly afterwards. This challenging corner also claimed the immaculate Datsun 180B of John Armitage / Phil Rainer.
Mick Ellis / Jim Maude broke a tie rod on a tight hairpin near Merriang. After repairs, they set off, only to retire with further suspension problems.
Slipping off the road was quite common, and this included Alex and Jan Fitcher who bumped a tree on a daylight stage near Myrtleford.
Bob Watson’s turbo Peugeot 504 suffered a recurrence of its overheating problems in the last event and blew the head gasket.