The Chrysler Safari was held on 7 June.
VRC Round 4 – 1980 COCCV Chrysler Safari
Geoff Portman made a welcome return to the VRC, comfortably winning the 1980 Chrysler Safari, with Phil Rainer navigating in the Autosport Datsun 1600. In a faultless display, they took out 17 of the 20 special stages, with the Brown brothers taking the other three stages and finishing in second place.
Rally Director Tony Allen flagged away the thirty starters from the Chadstone showrooms of the event sponsor. The field headed to the start proper at Moe, in very cold conditions. The first five stages south of Moe were a slippery nightmare but conditions improved as the event progressed, due to the selection of roads.
Portman was quickly into stride, opening up a 70 second lead by the service break near Boolarra.
David Jones was one of the early casualties, with a blown alternator in the Pacific Films Lancer. Struggling along with poor low beams only, he clobbered a stump to end his evening’s activities. Then John White / John Williams retired with exactly the same ailment in their Lancer!
On stage 10, Rex Muldoon speared off into the scrub, hitting a tree fairly hard. Navigator Noel Kelly’s seat mounts failed due to the impact, resulting in a fractured shoulder which required hospital treatment.
At Division end, Portman / Rainer had extended their lead out to over 3 minutes, followed by the Browns and Uttleymoore. Roger Moll / Bob West were following up their fine placing in the previous round to be lying in 6th place. However they dropped back in the second division with mechanical problems.
After a short service the field tackled brisk 8 km stage in the Haunted Hills just east of Moe, then crews headed up into the hills towards Tanjil.
Portman continued his winning ways and backed off a little towards the finish. Chris Brown was still pushing hard, with some good times in order to remain in second place. Warwick Smith and Paul Paterson completed most of the second division without a Halda but held on to fifth and earn a few valuable points towards the championship.
The Rally finished at Erica, where the crews were complimentary about the efficient and well organised event.
The 1980 Victorian series remained wide open, with four different winners in the first four events.
See here for the Auto Action report on the event.