The Otways Trial was held on 16 February.
VRC Round 1 – 1980 WDCC Otways Trial
Warwick Smith and Paul Paterson started the 1980 season in the same manner as they finished the previous two VRC seasons … winning! So they would be chasing their third Championship in a row.
Forty four crews started the rally from the Waurn Ponds Hotel just after midday on Saturday and headed off into a series of twelve daylight competitive stages throughout the Otways, to the half way break at Forrest.
Whilst the leaders cleaned the first few stages, plenty of drama unfolded behind. Alex and Jan Fitcher spent ten minutes getting their 1600 back on the road after an “ off “ and Adams / Chris Randell did the same. Dinta Officer and Kate Hobson rolled their Galant out of the event and Tony Power and Yvette Poloyni retired with a broken differential. Certainly a high casualty rate so early in the event.
Shane Blandford / Vaughan Haskett were setting fastest times, together with Gil Davis / Graham Toner, just ahead of the Brown brothers and Warwick Smith.
The roads in the latter part of the Division began to get rutted and boggy. Then Blandford’s engine cried enough after an impressive run.
At the break at Forrest, Davis held a 28 second lead from Brown with a fast charging Peter Evens in third, but destined to retire. Smith and Paterson were in fourth, more than two minutes from the lead.
Seven night sections remained. The Browns set a cracking time on the first section bit then on the second they went off the road when trying to pass another car in the dust and rolled. Gil Davis had taken the lead but on the final competitive stage his rear wheel dipped into a deep rut and he too rolled! Smith and Paterson emerged unscathed to take the win.
Meanwhile Jim Uttleymoore / Ray Scott had been driving a consistently quick rally and finally took second place in the event, ahead of John Coleman / Greg Boot who had been performing well in their Honda Civic.