1980 Autosport Stages

The 1980 Autosport Stages, organised by the Cerberus Car Club, was held on 27 September.

VRC Round 7 – Autosport Stages – Controversial win to Chris and Simon Brown

The final round of the 1980 VRC was a day/night special stage event in the Powelltown-Noojee area. With the Browns having a 5 point lead in the championship, they needed to finish second (if Smith/Paterson won) to secure the championship. On the other hand, Smith and Paterson needed to either win and the Browns to finish no higher than third, or to finish second and the Browns to score no points. The Grade 2 championship was also up for grabs with Blandford/Harper holding a handy lead  but with both Wall/Minifie and Officer/Hobson able to take the win.

On the daylight stages the going was very close. Bell dropped a heap of time on the first stage while Portman retired after six stages with engine dramas.

At the end of the daylight stages, Smith and Paterson held a slender lead of 10 seconds to Watson/Hodge in the Peugeot with the Browns a mere 3 seconds behind, then 2 seconds to Muldoon and Kelly in fourth. It was tight! Watson retired soon after with mechanical problems, taking them out of the equation.
Blandford/Harper were fifth and looked good for the Grade 2 championship but were being challenged by Officer/Hobson, while Wall/Minifie both looked out of contention in twelfth, but still less than a minute behind Blandford.

On the first night stage the drama unfolded. A road was used that had been used for a transport stage in daylight and on one slippery corner the Browns went off the road. Smith and Paterson, hearing the news, now had to manage their performance to make first or second place.

But the Browns winched the car back on the road, reportedly delaying some following cars, but had dropped over 15 minutes and were surely out of contention.

At the finish the provisional results showed Smith/Paterson had won by a minute and a half from Muldoon/Kelly. The Browns  were in 13th and the championship appeared to be retained by the reigning champions.

In Grade 2, Blandford/Harper has effectively retired after two night stages while Officer/Hobson had also retired. Wall and Minifie finished equal third outright (later to be changed to sixth) to give them a surprise victory in the Grade 2 championship.

Auto Action report

But this was not over! A protest was lodged over the stage where the Browns went off on the basis that following competitors were unduly delayed. The stewards upheld the protest, ruling that the section should be deleted, but penalised the Browns 30 minutes for failing to display warning triangles. A counter protest argued that if the section was deleted, the Browns could not be penalised, so their penalty was also deleted.

Smith and Paterson appealed to AMSAC but the decision stood and the final results were as shown below. Chris and Simon Brown were declared winners of the event and of the 1980 Victorian Rally Championship.

This controversial outcome caused CAMS to issue an explanatory bulletin which you can read here.

1980 Autosport Stages - Mitchell-Rothberg
Car 22 Andy Mitchell & Geoff Rothberg

Results and entry list

Entry List

Provisional Results

PlaceDriverNavigatorCarPenaltyGrade 2
1Chris BrownSimon BrownDatsun 180B SSS34:32
2Warwick SmithPaul PatersonLancer35:40
3Rex MuldoonNoel KellyDatsun 160036:28
4Ian SwanDerek RawsonDatsun 160038:54
5Bob WaterhouseTony WalshamDatsun 160039:31
6Chris WallLloyd MinifieDatsun 160039:531
7Steve AshtonDavid McKenzieDatsun 160040:322
8Simon BirrellJohn BirrellGalant40:423
9Garry HarrowfieldIan EllisDatsun 160040:50
10Mike DunnPeter GodsonDatsun 160042:004
11Phil EatherSteve YorkeDatsun 160042:245
12Andy MitchellGeoff RothbergDatsun 160042:456

Final Results

Stage Times


Other event documents