4 – 8 OCTOBER
SYDNEY – BAIRNSDALE - SYDNEY
Adapted quote from the 1967 Southern Cross International Rally Supplementary Regulations booklet:
“The Australian Sporting Car Club (ASCC) is proud to be conducting this event. It is the successor to the Round Australia Trials which were pioneered and organised by the ASCC in the 1950s and remembered as classic contests between man and machine and a big country.
The years have brought changes. Cars have improved, the country has been opened up, and outback roads have become smoother. The Southern Cross International Rally, while a natural successor to the Round Australia Trials, is formed in a different mould. In concept, it is based more on the European style of event with greater emphasis placed on overall vehicle performance (road holding, braking, steering) and less on a car’s ability to withstand a succession of rough creek crossings. It is more a test of a driver’s skill than of his endurance. Shorter stages through forests and mountainous county have replaced long and often monotonous hauls through desolate country.
This is the pattern that has been a successful formula overseas and the 1966 Southern Cross International Rally saw the successful adaptation of European trends to an event run on Australian roads. It was a great success, and the ASCC is determined to develop this event into a contest which will be recognised as one of the world’s classic rallies.”
This year Ferguson and Johnson made up for the disappointment of their 1966 crash with a runaway win in their Volkswagen. The rally provided much drama. Ferguson replaced Kilfoyle as the leader on the run back from Bairnsdale and a navigation error near Bairnsdale removed a potential threat from John Keran/Steve Halloran. The run home was led by Ferguson/Johnson all the way and they led the 39 finishers into Sydney. 1966 winners Firth/Hoinville crashed their Ford Cortina off the road and did a few rolls down a mountain at Blue Duck on the road to the Bogong High Plains.
Final Outright Placings
|1||Barry Ferguson||Dave Johnson||Volkswagen||330|
|2||Frank Kilfoyle||Doug Rutherford||Ford Cortina GT||379|
|3||Bob Holden||George Shepheard||Morris Cooper S||464|
|4||Colin Bond||Brian Hope||Mitsubishi Colt||467|
|5||Ian Vaughan||Roger Vaughan||Ford Cortina Mk2||482|
Series Production Class Placings
|A||Up to 1000cc||Bruce Wilkinson||Ian Inglis||Datsun 1000|
|B||1001 to 1300cc||Bruce Collier||J. Boon||Renault Gordini|
|C||1301 to 2000cc||Ian Vaughan||Roger Vaughan||Ford Cortina|
|D||Over 2000cc||Greg Garard||Frank Goulburn||Holden 186S|
Special Production Class Placings
|E||Up to 1000cc||P. Walters||Eric Vigar||Ford Cortina|
|F||1001 to 1300cc||Colin Bond||Brian Hope||Mitsubishi Colt|
|G||1301 to 2000cc||Barry Ferguson||David Johnson||Volkswagen|
|H||Over 2000cc||Tony Roberts||Peter Hass||Holden 186S|
Manufacturers Award: Ford Motor Company.
Ladies Award: Wendy Taylor & Carole Waldron, Hillman Imp
There was no limit on the amount of the course that could be missed provided the late time limit was achieved at the end of a division; missing a control led to a penalty of 200 points.
The event catered for:
- FIA Group 2 (Series Production Touring Cars – open and closed, of which at least 1000 units to be produced within a 12 consecutive months; or
- FIA Group 5 (Special Touring Cars), which allowed significant further mechanical modification except that the engine must be from the same manufacturer and have the same number of cylinders and configuration; or
- CAMS Group D & E.
EVENT DETAILS/ ORGANISING TEAM
The event was conducted over some 4000 kilometres, of which 1200 comprised special stages.
Director: Bob Selby-Wood
Administrator: John Keeffe
Secretary: Peter Mulder
Technical Officer & Chief Scrutineer: Fred Pearse
Rothmans of Pall Mall
A total of 84 entries were received for the event, an increase of 13 over 1966. 39 finished.
Ford entered three twin-cam Lotus Cortinas, for Harry Firth/Graham Hoinville, Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford and Ian/Roger Vaughan.
BMC formed the Mini Cooper S team of Paddy Hopkirk and Timo Makinen (both also in Australia for the Bathurst 1000 race). Their cars were prepared in England, and their navigators from Australia were Gary Chapman and Bob Forsyth. An Australian prepared ‘S’ (prepared by Bob Holden) was for the UK’s Tony Fall/Fred Logan (from Sydney), as well as ones for both Evan Green/Roy Denny and Bob Holden/George Shepheard.
Volkswagen were strongly represented with four factory cars – ‘Beetles’ fitted with 1600cc motors – for Barry Ferguson/Dave Johnson, Tony Theiler/Bruce Ford, Stewart McLeod/Jack Lock and Ray Christie/Joe Dunlop.
The Holden onslaught, with Victorian Holden Dealer cars, ‘186s’, for Reg Lunn/Mike Osborne, Ron Phillips/Jim McAuliffe, Tony Roberts/Peter Haas. NSW entries were for Greg Garard/Frank Goulburn and John Garard/Barry Waldron.
Official Renault entries – 1255cc Gordinis – were handled by Mal McPherson/Bob Sharpley, Bruce Collier/John Boon and Gerry Crown/Nigel Collier. The factory also entered an R10 for Barry Cooke/John Sproule.
Three full-house Volvos 122s were entered for John Keran/Steve Halloran, Max Winkless/Graham Mewburn and Bill Nolan/Peter Meyer.
Japanese entries included Mitsubishi Colt Fastbacks for Colin Bond/Brian Hope, Doug Stewart/John Bryson, Barry Lloyd/Albert Brown and Vince Brown/Barry Field.
Datsun entered two 1000cc sedans for Bruce Wilkinson/Ian Inglis and D.Anderson/B.Cain.
And finally, Fiat entered four cars – an 850 coupe for Bill Burns/Bruce Kaye, and 124s for Max Stahl/George Stefanoff, Col Roser/Alex Terrasson and David Forster/Peter Batterick.
All the way from West Australia, and it was a long way in those days with much of the road across the Nullarbor being unsealed, was Bob Bullock/Rod Stonehouse in a Volkswagen who finished third in Standard class. Bullock also competed in 1966.
Competition was conducted in darkness and day breaks were taken at Canberra, Bairnsdale and then Canberra again on the return trip to Sydney. The event started from Bankstown Square.
Four night stages were conducted to the service break at Collector, and these included the notorious 16 kilometre Wombeyan Caves road which was 10 metres wide carved out of the side of a mountain. The precipitous, rocky road to Richlands was daunting, as was a ‘horror stretch’ that tested drivers’ patience as they wound down a mountain to a river crossing and where the pace was down to a crawl for several hundred metres, with the small wheels of the Minis often left hanging, the sump guard being perched on the rocks.
At Collector, after 400 kilometres, Timo Makinen was fastest with 7 points lost, followed by Tony Fall (with 15 points - 9 of these were due to a flat tyre), and then Paddy Hopkirk (20), Colin Bond and Evan Green – who started in 80th position and blitzed his way through the field – on 21, John Garard (23), John Keran, Barry Ferguson, Stewart McLeod and Bob Holden on 24, and Harry Firth on 31. Peter Janson/Dick Bainbridge, in their Hillman Hunter, were next on 36 points.
11 cars had retired by this point. Much of the course was through thick fog, with swirling patches hiding tricky corners and sudden drops and several not-so-experienced drivers went off.
After Collector, one corner claimed four roll-overs, including McLeod’s Volkswagen. Makinen also left the road but he elected to steer into the bush rather than try to regain the road, leaped a gully, missed rocks and trees and regained the road, cutting off several hundred metres to the course proper! Navigator Forsyth claimed a saving of five seconds!
Into the forests west of Canberra, in some years to come to be used for the Castrol International Rally, the special stages gave the drivers some exciting moments. They permitted high speeds and the powerful Holden’s started to make an impression on the scoring.
Makinen had a magnificent drive from Collector to Canberra, not dropping any time against times allowed.
Results at Canberra were:
|1||Timo Makinen/Bob Forysth||Cooper S||7 points|
|2||Tony Fall/Fred Logan||Cooper S||19|
|3||Paddy Hopkirk/Gary Chapman||Cooper S||22|
|4||Colin Bond/Brian Hope||Mitsubishi Colt||27|
|5||John Keran/Steve Halloran||Volvo 122S||29|
|6||Bob Holden/George Shepheard||Cooper S||30|
|=7.||Reg Lunn/Mike Osborne||Holden 186||32|
|=7.||Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford||Ford Cortina||32|
|9||Harry Firth/Graham Hoinville||Ford Cortina||34|
|10||John Garard/Barry Waldron||Ford Cortina||34|
After a day’s rest, crews were permitted 15 minutes service. Tony Fall’s Cooper S required considerable repairs, including a rear sub-frame replacement, damaged as a result of running on the flat tyre before Collector, and these took 53 minutes, losing Fall 38 points.
Heading southwest from Canberra, using roads through Uriarra to Brindabella and emerging at Kiandra, Makinen retired when the heavy use of first gear took its toll on the Cooper S, with a gear braking and holing the casing and releasing the oil, causing the engine to seize.
Just past Kiandra in the Snowy Mountains, Hopkirk had the gearbox of his Cooper S ‘let go’ as well, so the two international stars were out of the event.
The remaining 64 car field moved into Victoria at Corryong where Frank Kilfoyle led the way on 40 points, followed by John Garard and John Keran on 47, Barry Ferguson (48), Evan Green (49) and Bob Holden (52).
Heading into ‘home territory’ raised the hopes of many Victorian crews.
Harry Firth was hoping to close the gap, but near the ‘Blue Duck’ on the Omeo Road, at a location which became known within rally vocabulary as ‘Firth’s Leap’, the Lotus Cortina differential suddenly stopped working and the car teetered on the edge of a cliff, then slipped, toppled and plunged down the shear drop for 20 metres before stopping against a tree. But Firth and navigator Graham Hoinville were lucky, for there was another 50 metres drop to the bottom. Neither were injured, and were surprised that the road ‘’was right up there’’. The car was wrecked and very obviously they were out of the event.
Then it was Greg Garard’s turn for rallying notoriety. His Holden found a slippery wooden bridge, tripped on a kerb and ended on its roof in the creek, bonnet on one bank and boot on the other. Assisted by the recovery vehicle some ninety minutes later the crew managed to get back on the road, stay within late time and, remarkably, went on to record a class win.
Results at Bairnsdale were:
|1.||Barry Ferguson/Dave Johnson||Volkswagen||90 points|
|2.||John Keran/Steve Halloran||Volvo 122S||91|
|3.||Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford||Ford Cortina||114|
|4.||Ron Phillips/Jim McAuliffe||Holden 186S||117|
|5.||Evan Green/Roy Denny||Cooper S||130|
|6.||Bob Holden/George Shepheard||Cooper S||137|
|7.||John Garard/Barry Waldron||Holden 186S||141|
|8.||Bruce Collier/John Boon||Renault Gordini||145|
59 crews restarted at Bairnsdale. The BMC service team was hard at it during the 15 minute service break, making repairs to the cylinder head of Tony Fall’s Cooper S. The head had blown a gasket, then cracked, giving slow times before Bairnsdale. The time the repairs took put Fall well back in the field.
John Keran’s run amongst the leaders came to an end after Bairnsdale, following a navigation error leaving the town (see Event Sidelines below).
From Bairnsdale, the course headed east through Lakes Entrance to Orbost and then north along the Bonang Highway to Delegate in New South Wales. The ‘highway’ surface was good, but for every kilometre forwards it twisted a kilometre sideways and the special stages varied in intensity but Barry Ferguson increased his lead.
Heavy rain at Bendoc, just before the border, turned the roads into a quagmire and the epic stories of the crews’ courage and determination to get through lived for many years when 1967 Southern Cross competitors got together. Ferguson made it carefully at the head of the field, but he was overshadowed by Greg Garard who was making up for previous lost time; the Ron Phillips Holden however suffered a flat tyre as it hit a bog, and John Keran’s Volvo became hopelessly bogged and his rally was over.
Many cars elected not to attempt the bog and gave the section a miss, taking the appropriate penalty but staying in the event.
From Delegate the course headed towards the coast to Merimbula, and then up Brown Mountain to Cooma and to Canberra. Evan Green teetered his Cooper S on the edge of a five metre drop, with two wheels hanging over the edge and it looked to be all over. However, Ron Phillips arrived and took the time to pull the Mini back onto the road.
Doug Stewart glanced down at his safety-belt coupling (we don’t know why!!) and crashed (see Event Sidelines below).
Colin Bond amazed everyone with his drive in the Mitsubishi Colt, which took him to third place at the Canberra break.
Results are Canberra were:
|1.||Barry Ferguson/Dave Johnson||Volkswagen||166 points|
|2.||Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford||Ford Cortina||202|
|3.||Colin Bond/Brian Hope||Mitsubishi Colt||242|
|4.||Ron Phillips/Jim McAuliffe||Holden 186S||257|
|5.||Bob Holden/George Shepheard||Cooper S||267|
53 crews restarted at Canberra.
Director Bob Selby-Wood promised the last night would be the toughest and it proved to be so. Points tumbled fast and cars were dropping out of the event rapidly.
From Canberra the course headed south-east through the Araluen Valley to Moruya, for a loop, and then back through the Araluen Valley to Marulan and so to the finish back at Bankstown. Two loops out of Reidsdale, near Braidwood, were made more difficult by fog patches, loose gravel, tricky corners and jumps, together with a grinding two kilometre climb up the Majors Creek mountain which was narrow, tough and steep. Here Barry Ferguson struck his only real trouble of the whole rally – the fan-belt slipped off and he lost 17 points (4 minutes) replacing it.
Alternator trouble was catching up with Evan Green’s Mini and Ron Phillip’s Holden, slowing them on the tight stages.
The forest loops around Bodalla were tight and twisty and held some drama for crews on the stages with Kilfoyle picking up time on Ferguson. At a break at Moruya the remaining 43 crews took stock and prepared for the final dash home. Ferguson was ahead on 274 points, followed by Kilfoyle 312, Bond 374, Holden 376 and Vaughan 381.
After the break, Ferguson picked up time on Kilfoyle during the forest special stages, and then came a refuel at Marulan, followed by an assembly stage and the run to the finish.
Final results were:
|1.||Barry Ferguson/Dave Johnson||Volkswagen||330 points|
|2.||Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford||Ford Cortina||379|
|3.||Bob Holden/George Shepheard||Cooper S||464|
|4.||Colin Bond/Brian Hope||Mitsubishi Colt||467|
|5.||Ian Vaughan/Roger Vaughan||Ford Cortina||482|
- The second section of the first night was along the notorious Wombeyan Caves road, with its many corners every, so it seemed, 50 metres, and long sheer drops on one side and cliffs on the other. The average speed required to clean-sheet the 22km section was 66km/h, achieved only by Bob Holden and Timo Makinen. Many cars suffered brake problems, some to the extent of not having any effective brakes. Holden stated that is the reason he did such a good time!!!
- The third night began with an easy run to Lakes Entrance, then on to Orbost to pick up the Bonang Highway to Delegate. But easy as it was, it was John Keran’s downfall. Navigator Steve Halloran told John to turn right when leaving Bairnsdale instead of left! After some 40 kilometres they realised their mistake of heading towards Melbourne instead of Lakes Entrance and made a rapid return to the east (no speed limits in those days!) to arrive at Lakes Entrance . . . and trouble. A local was being pursued by the law and lost his car on the downhill bends on the approach to the town, and pranged with another car. The police car also lost it, then a service vehicle from the rally swerved to miss the scene and hit a palm tree off the road. Onto this scene Keran (recognised as one of the country’s fastest rally drivers) arrived, driving in a manner which showed he was determined to pick up some, if not all, of the lost time. He swerved to miss them all, as well as the palm tree, which he expertly did, but skated over the grass verge, over a five metre embankment and into the lake!! Undaunted Keran, called on the assembled, but still dazed group to assist him extract the now slightly crumpled Volvo from the water back onto the road and continued.
- Late in the third night, Doug Stewart glanced down at his safety-belt coupling for some reason, and a ‘dip’ sign flashed by at almost 160kph and then the Colt hit the dip. The first leap was reported to cover 17 metres, and the second (including a complete end-for-end somersault) 80 metres, resulting in three punctures. Slewing off the road, the Colt hurdled an embankment, hit it once more and then Stewart (as he described it) lost control and the car crashed into a fence. The service crew, quickly on the scene, straightened things out, and the car made Canberra, was further repaired and continue to take out third in class (appropriately in the Modified Division!!).