Re-live the action from 1981

Year in review

Australian Rally Championship

Victoria conducted two rounds of the Australian Rally Championship in 1981,  the Akademos Rally (Round 4) and the Alpine Rally in November (Round 5). Both Victorian rounds were won by Portman and Runnalls in the factory Stanza, the Alpine by 9 minutes ahead of team mates Fury and Suffern.  They also won rounds in Queensland and NSW, convincingly winning the championship. It was the last year that the Nissan entered the ARC, having won seven titles across eight years (although Dunkerton’s win in 1975 was not in a factory Datsun).

The Akademos was held on 29 May. Directed by David McKenzie, it was the first ARC event to use a pre-cursor of A-A timing, a result of David competing with Simon Crane in the 1980 WRC Motogard Rally in New Zealand. The aim was to make spectating a better experience by keeping the leading cars at close to 2 minute intervals. It started in Melbourne and finished in Sale.


The 1981 season was dominated by Geoff Portman and Ross Runnalls. They won both the Australian Rally Championship (in a Datsun Stanza) and the Victorian Rally Championship (in the Autosport Datsun 200B). Then to cap it off they also won the inaugural Victorian Trials Championship in their private Datsun 1600.

The VRC was, for the second year, made up entirely of Special Stage events but this year all events adopted “Elapsed Timing”.

This year saw the cessation of the Victorian Clubman Series as a result of dwindling numbers of entries in some VCS and VRC events. It seemed that many club level series were drawing competitors from these state level series. A Clubman award was therefore introduced into the VRC.

With the VRC now entirely special stage events, the Victorian Trials Championship (the name had previously been used for the VRC prior to 1972) was introduced with an emphasis on navigation and sometimes more challenging road conditions. As part of the VTC, the George Derrick Memorial Trial turned out to indeed be memorable for competitors – the full story is worth reading.

Five club level series were contested, with the ANZ Bank Rally Series, having run for only two years, no longer continuing. In addition to events that were part of a series and numerous club events, there were a number of “Open” events: the COCC Ready Plan Rally, the North Eastern Rally, two CCRMIT Rallysprints and one MUCC Rallysprint.

For some excellent photos from 1981, select the Calendar item on the left to see the 1981 calendar published by the Victorian Rally Association.

Portman and Runnalls in the Stanza, 81 Alpine


Victorian Rally Championship

Six rounds: Martini Mountain Rally, Windscreens O’Brien Begonia Rally, Blue Ribbon Rally, Autosport Stages, Rich River Rally, Canon Zodiac Rally.

Outright Champions: Geoff Portman/ Ross Runnalls, Datsun 200B

Grade 2 Award: David Officer/Kate Hobson, Galant

Clubman Award: Graeme Wise/Mark Brooke, Datsun 1600

For more details, including event results and points tables, go to the 1981 VRC page.

Portman and Runnalls on the 81 Autosport Stages

Victorian Trials Championship

The inaugural “revived” Victorian Trial Championship comprised eight events: Summer Safari, Honda Scamper, Bog-a-Duck Trial, Experts Trial, North Central Trial, George Derrick Memorial Trial, Melton Shell 200 Trial, Bendigo Jem Trial.

Outright Champions: Geoff Portman/ Ross Runnalls, Datsun 1600

Grade 2 Award: Bill Johnston / Chris Maniatakis, Mazda RX4

Clubman Award: Peter Hurrey / Keith Newby, Toyota Celica

For more details, including event results and points tables, go to the 1981 VTC page.

Western Region Trial Series

This series of closed events was for clubs in western Victoria, in particular Geelong, Ballarat and Melton. Events held were: 

  1. Bernarras
  2. Moonlight Meander
  3. Mini Invitation Trial
  4. Yulunga Rally
  5. Daryl Tunbridge Memorial Trial
  6. Cooper Memorial Trial
  7. The Big Cobblers

Riverina & North Eastern Series

This closed series was for members of the car clubs in northern and north-eastern Victoria. The series comprised:

  1. Shepparton Hills Rally
  2. Albury Rally
  3. Winter Trial
  4. Spring Trial

Combine 6

This closed series was predominantly for marque clubs – Datsun, Renault, Peugeot, Ford, Torana plus the VADC. Events were:

  1. ANZ Bank Rally
  2. Spring 200
  3. William Harvey Memorial Trial
  4. Renault Australia Trial
  5. Rally of the Rising Sun
  6. Summer Trial

TAUCC Series

This series of closed events were for the various technical college and university car clubs. This year the series comprised the:

  1. MUCC Sprint Rally
  2. Feather Duster Rally
  3. Swinburne 200
  4. Introductory Trial
  5. Western Districts Rally
  6. Autumn Midnight Trial
  7. Presidents Trial
  8. Disrally

The results of the interclub competition for 1981 were:







MUCC Sprint Rally

Feather Duster

Swinburne 200

Introductory Trial






Western Districts






Autumn Midnight






Presidents Trial



















Group 5

This closed series comprised events run by PIARC, CRB Car Club, VW Car Club and the Ford Four Car Club. Events were:

  1. Embee Midnight
  2. Anglia Memorial Rally
  3. Twilight Rally
  4. Valkyrian Trial
  5. Pathfinder Trial


Other Events

Club level events during the year for which we have information include:

John Blair Memorial Sprint Rally

Tee Cee Vee Rally

Other 1981 Open events in Rallypedia are:

Ready Plan Rally



Have a look at some excellent photos from 1981 in the VRA calendar:  Jan-Mar  Apr-Jun  Jul-Sep  Oct-Dec  

The Rally Calendar for this year:

31 JanBernarras TrialLCCABENWR-1
1 FebB.F.Goodrich RallysprintCCRMITClub
7 FebMartini Mountain RallySCCVRC-1
14 FebSummer SafariPCCVVTC-1
14 FebEmbee MidnightPIARCGroup5-1
21 FebCrystal Ball RallyFFCCClub
21 FebSprint RallyMUCCTAUCC-1
22 FebRenault Sprint RallyRCCVClub
28 FebBegonia RallyBLCCVRC-2
7 MarMoonlight MeanderMMSCWR-2
7 MarChallenge of ClubsDCCAClub
8 MarReady Plan RallyCOCCOpen
14 MarHonda ScamperHCCVVTC-2
14 MarFeather Duster RallyDUCCTAUCC-2
21 MarWoody’s RambleVADCClub
21 MarCreswick CaperMSCCClub
22 MarToy RallyTOCVClub
28 MarBlue Ribbon RallyLCCAVRC-3
28 MarMini Invitation TrialM850GWR-3
28 MarSame Again TrialPACClub
4 AprAnglia Memorial RallyFFCCGroup5-2
4 AprOakmoor RallyM850CClub
4 AprOtway TrialWDCCClub
11 AprBog-a-Duck TrialMUCCVTC-3
11 AprANZ Bank RallyANZBCCCOMB6-1
11 AprCAC 21st Anniversary RallyCACClub
18 AprAutosport StagesCERBVRC-4
18 AprYulunga RallyHDCCWR-4
18 AprShepparton Hills RallySDCCNE-1
2 MaySwinburne 200SCCTAUCC-3
2 MayChallenge TrialPCCVClub
9 MayExperts Trial (postponed to June)LCCAVTC
16 MayNorth Eastern RallyNECCOpen
16 MaySpring 200FFCCCOMB6-2
16 MayDaryl Tunbridge Memorial TrialBLCCWR-5
23 MayRich River RallyCCRMITVRC-5
23 MayChick Pfeifer Memorial TrialRCCVClub
30 MayShamateur ILCCAClub
30 MayAlbury RallyADCCNE-2
31 MayRenault RallyesprintRCCGClub
6 JunTwilight RallyCRBCCGroup5-3
6 JunIntervarsityMUCCClub
13 JunIntroductory TrialMSCCTAUCC-4
27 JunExperts Trial(cancelled)LCCAVTC
27 JunRoundabout TrialM850CClub
27 JunSpencer Motors TrialFCCVClub
4 JulMitsubishi SafariCOCCVClub
4 JulSandi SurfVMACClub
11 JulNorth Central TrialCCCVTC-4
11 JulWinter TrialNECCNE-3
18 JulNissan NightmovesDCCAClub
18 JulShamateur IILCCAClub
19 JulRallysprintCCRMITOpen
25 JulValkyrian TrialVWCCGroup5-4
26 JulCanon Zodiac RallyCRBCCVRC-6
1 AugMini Club 200MCCVClub
8 AugGeorge Derrick Memorial TrialCCRMITVTC-5
15 AugWestern Districts RallySCOTCCTAUCC-5
15 AugForest ClassicNECCClub
22 AugPathfinder TrailPIARCGroup5-5
22 AugRitmo TrialFCCVClub
29 AugAkademosMUCCARC-4
5 SepEureka Novice TrialBLCCClub
5 SepVictoria Cross RallyCACAClub
12 SepRenault Australia TrialRCCVCOMB6-4
12 SepSpring TrialNECCNE-4
19 SepMelton Shell 200 TrialMMSCVTC-6
26 SepAutumn Midnight TrialCCRMITTAUCC-6
24 OctCooper Memorial TrialWDCCWR-6
10 OctShamateur IIILCCAClub
10 OctSundowner RallyHDCCClub
11 OctRallysprintMUCCOpen
17 OctPresidents TrialCCRMITTAUCC-7
17 OctRally of the Rising SunDCCACOMB6-5
24 OctCamcrusher Rally (cancelled)FFCCVRC
31 OctGeorge Woods Memorial Novice TrialPCCVClub
7 NovBendigo Jem TrialLLCABENVTC-7
7 NovAdam ‘n Eve TrialCRBCCClub
8 NovJohn Blair Memorial RallysprintCERBClub
14 NovSummer TrialVADCCOMB6-6
14 NovKitchen Table RallyVMACClub
21-22 NovAlpine RallyLCCAARC-5
28 NovTee Cee Vee TrialTCVClub
28 NovThe Big CobblersDUCCWR-7
28 NovIntroductory TrialCOCCVClub
5 DecDisrallyMSCCTAUCC-8
5 DecWIlliam Harvey Memorial TrialPCCVCOMB6-3
6 DecRallysprintCCRMITOpen
12 DecMaldon MuddleMUCCClub