Photograph from the front cover of the regulations booklet – Barry Ferguson/Dave Johnson in their 1967 Southern Cross International Rally winning Volkswagen

1968
9 - 13 OCTOBER
SYDNEY – MELBOURNE - SYDNEY

Final Outright Placings

1 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142 S 48 pts
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 82
3 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 85
4 Tony Roberts Mike Osborne Holden HK 89
5 Bruce Hodgson Bob Forsyth Ford Cortina GT 93
6 Bob Watson Jim McAuliffe Holden HK 108
7 Greg Garard Roy Denny Holden Monaro 117
8 John Garard Barry Waldron Holden Monaro 126
9 Doug Stewart Brian Field Mitsubishi Colt 128
10 Peter Houghton Mick Neilsen Peugeot 404 143

Series Production Class Placings

A Up to 1000cc Jack Mullins Terry Mason Daihatsu GT
B 1001 to 1300cc John Taylor Graham West Morris Cooper S
C 1301 to 1600cc Bruce Wilkinson Ian Inglis Datsun 1600
D 1601 to 2000cc Peter Houghton Mick Neilsen Peugeot 404
E 2001 to 3000 cc Clyde Hodgins Peter Brown Holden Monaro 161
F Over 3000cc Tony Roberts Mike Osbourne Holden Monaro

Special Production Class Placings

G Up to 1300cc Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt
H 1301 to 1600cc Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT
I 1601 to 2000cc John Keran Peter Myer Volvo 142S
J Over 2000cc Harry Firth Graham Hoinville Lotus Cortina

Manufacturers Award:  Holden Dealer Team
Ladies Award: Lynne Keeffe/Carol Waldron: Volvo 122S

VEHICLE ELIGIBILITY

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.

CAMS Group D & E cars permitted in 1966 and 1967 were dropped for this year.

EVENT DETAILS/ ORGANISING TEAM

Event Details

The event covered 3425 kilometres between Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney.

Organising Team

Director:  Allan Lawson
Secretary: Elizabeth Arundell
Technical Officer: Fred Pearse
Rally Committee:

  • John Arter
  • Colin Barnes
  • John Hibbard
  • Geoffrey Linn
  • Frank McNulty
  • John Whitton

Sponsor
Rothmans of Pall Mall

ENTRIES

The 76 entries included the previous winners – Harry Firth (1966) in a Lotus Cortina (with a supercharger, Harry somehow got around the regs!) and Barry Ferguson/Dave Johnson (1967) in a Volkswagen 1600 Beetle. However, the latter ended up being a non-starter due to not being able to spare time from their businesses, given that time was needed for the London to Sydney Marathon later in the year.

Ford

  • Lotus Cortina for Harry Firth/Graham Hoinville
  • GT Cortinas were crewed by Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford and Bruce Hodgson/Bob Forsyth
  • Cortina 440 for Richard Harris/John Bryson

Volvos

  • 142S with a Repco head for John Keran/Peter Meyer and Max Winkless/Nigel Collier
  • 144S for Keith Dobbs/Gary Mecak
  • 122S for Lynne Keeffe/Carol Waldron

BMC

  • Factory Mini Cooper S’s for Evan Green/George Shepheard and Ireland’s Paddy Hopkirk/Peter Mulder.
  • Other Minis were entered by a variety of privateers, including John Taylor (SA), Roger Bonhomme (Vic), Bruce Cheeseman (NSW)

Holden

  • HK V8’s for Bob Watson/Jim McAuliffe and Tony Roberts/Mike Osborne. These were two speed automatics.
  • HK Monaro for Greg Garard/Barry Waldron and John Gerard/Roy Denny.
  • Torana for Reg Lunn/Peter Haas

Mitsubishi

  • 1100cc Colts for Colin Bond/Brian Hope and Doug Stewart/Barry Field
  • Earlier models for Barry Lloyd/Albert Brown and the ladies crews of Sandra Bennett/Wendy Taylor/Carole Waldron

Renault

  • R10s – one for Max Stahl/Jeff Beaumont and one for Pat Mathieson/Sandra Hand
  • Five 1135cc Gordinis for Mal McPherson/Robin Sharpley; Peter Janson/Rick Bainbridge; Bruce Collier/Steve Halloran; David Chettle/Bruce Watt

Datsun

  • 1600 for Bruce Wilkinson/Ian Ingliss

Others included:

  • Stewart McLeod/Jack Lock (SA) – Alfa Guilia
  • Hank Kabel/ Brian Dancer (Qld) – Toyota Corolla
  • Bob Bullock/Tom Snooks (WA) – Fiat 125
  • Peter Houghton/Mick Neilsen (NSW) – Peugeot 404
  • Clyde Hodgins/Peter Brown (NSW) – Holden Monaro 161
  • Jack Mullins/Terry Mason – Daihatsu 1000
THE EVENT

Starting in Martin Place, right in the centre of Sydney, the field moved to Amaroo Park Raceway, the motor sport complex north of Sydney, where rally sections used the access roads, hillclimbs and circuits. Bruce Collier and Bob Watson were fastest whilst there were two major failures - Mal MacPherson’s Gordini broke its transmission on the hillclimb and the BMC captain, Evan Green, when his Cooper S spilt in all directions its gearbox.

As night fell the field was heading south along the coast through Wollongong and Nowra and Keran took a slight lead from Kilfoyle and Firth over the 14 sections. The all-girls Colt driven by Sandra Bennett seized its engine as the competitors headed towards Canberra and on a steep hillclimb out of Nelligen Firth’s chances disappeared. The Ford’s rear axle broke and the limited slip differential wouldn’t drive the car up the hill. He lost an enormous amount of time to be almost 1000 points down.

The start in 1968 was in the centre of Sydney – in Martin Place; Doug Stewart/Barry Field in the Mitsubishi Colt

Other problems involved Stewart McLeod when the Alfa blew a clutch and he had to miss controls to stay in the event; Peter Janson’s Gordini was a retirement when it went plunging over the edge of the valley, but neither he or his navigator were injured; Bruce Collier’s Gordini transmission disintegrated, having only lost 29 points to this point and looking good.

Peter Janson and Rick Bainbridge were okay after plunging the Renault Gordini over the edge in Araluen Valley

At Canberra, after 725 kilometres, the results were:

1 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142S 17
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 23
3 Max Winkless Nigel Collier Volvo 142S 25
4 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 1100 26
5 Bob Watson Jim McAuliffe Holden Kingswood HK 27
6 Tony Roberts Peter Haas Holden Kingswood HK 31
7 Doug Stewart Barry Field Mitsubishi Colt 1100 32
8 Bruce Hodgson Bob Forsyth Ford Cortina GT 39
9 Richard Harris John Bryson Mazda 1200 45
10 Greg Garard Roy Denny Holden Monaro 46

The dampness of the second night gave way to thick dust and the cars headed south out of Canberra to a crossing of the Murrumbidgee River at Shallow Creek Crossing (near Berridale), which had more than 100 metres wide of fast flowing deep water. Most cars got through okay but Paddy Hopkirk’s Cooper S, fitted with a high performance camshaft, needed numerous revs and a great amount of slipping clutch to ford the river at proper speed. This resulted in a burnt out clutch and the end of the event for Paddy.

A series of relatively easy sections took competitors to the edge of the Kosciusko State Forest (now National Park). Then, in the small hours, after a brake-burning drop from the highs of the Alps to a dot on the map called Willis on the NSW/Victorian border the crews were met by a man in white overalls asking ....’Have you any fruit to declare?’

Then onto to Buchan and the sections to here contained just about every condition known to rallyists – boggy patches, rain, thick dusts, twig strewn tracks. Unfortunately, high winds in the forests around Nowa Nowa brought down trees across the roads and led to eight sections being cancelled.  At one point the cream of Australia’s rally stars sweated under the starlit sky to remove one offending tree (no doubt a case of more chiefs than Indians!)

So, with a fair amount of competition cut out the crews headed for the day parc ferme at the new Gallery Car Park in Melbourne, having covered 1700 kilometres since the start. Breakfast was at the Light Car Club in Queens Road.

Keran was fastest since Canberra, losing 4 points on the almost 1000 kilometres since Canberra, with Watson, Kilfoyle and Roberts losing 6, Winkless 8 and Bond 10. Harris dropped out of the top ten to let Taylor in.

At the halfway mark in Melbourne, John Keran wouldn’t listen to anyone who said he had it all sewn up.

Results at Melbourne were:

1 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142S 21
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 29
3 Bob Watson Jim McAuliffe Holden Kingswood HK 33
4 Max Winkless Nigel Collier Volvo 142S 35
5 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 1100 36
6 Tony Roberts Peter Haas Holden Kingswood HK 37
7 Doug Stewart Barry Field Mitsubishi Colt 1100 49
8 Bruce Hodgson Bob Forsyth Ford Cortina GT 53
9 Greg Garard Roy Denny Holden Monaro 60
10 John Taylor Graeme West Morris Cooper S 72

 

After a one hour service period at the end of the rest period, the route from Melbourne headed north east, passing through Bonnie Doon, Mansfield, Whitfield, Tawonga Gap, Tallangatta, Talgarno and so to Albury. Near Bright the Winkless/Collier Volvo suffered a broken trailing arm, costing them a good deal of time and putting them well out of the top ten.

Keran and Kilfoyle, and others, were flying and made many sections within the time allowed, but had tired arms taking the countless hairpins along much of the route through typical Alpine Rally country.

Bob Watson/Jim McAuliffe in the Two Speed Automatic Holden HK. They finished 6th overall. Tony Roberts/Mike Osborne were in a similar car and finished 4th outright.

Wind again resulted in cancellation of pine forest sections due to fallen trees. However, Doug Stewart suffered a navigation blunder in a transport section into Bethanga and dropped 23 minutes in one hit!

Other than the Winkless Volvo suffering from a broken rear trailing arm near Bright, nothing untoward happened to the leading crews between Melbourne and Albury, the latter reached after the course had covered 2400 kilometres from Sydney.

Over the 700 kilometre run from Melbourne Keran was again fastest losing 5 points, closely followed by Kilfoyle with 6, then followed Watson and Roberts on 9 and Bond on 10. Winkless dropped out of the top ten, and Wilkinson moved in.

Results at Albury were:

1 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142S 26
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 35
3 Bob Watson Jim McAuliffe Holden Kingswood HK 42
=4 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 1100 46
=4 Tony Roberts Peter Haas Holden Kingswood HK 46
6 Bruce Hodgson Bob Forsyth Ford Cortina GT 66
7 Doug Stewart Barry Field Mitsubishi Colt 1100 86
8 Greg Garard Roy Denny Holden Monaro 92
9 Bruce Wilkinson Ian Inglis Datsun 1600 93
10 John Taylor Graeme West Morris Cooper S 94

 

45 crews started Saturday night, which was obviously going to be the decider, although the way Keran was driving he seemed to have the event sewn up.

After a few laps at the nearby Hume Weir Circuit the field headed to Tumbarumba, where the town turned the occasion into a festival. Time and again the cars left the town, starting side by side, in the main street on loops to take in sections in the nearby forests. After the drag from the start (two cars starting at the same time where possible) one car peeled off to the left whilst the other went straight ahead. The poor commentator was kept busy on the microphone for four hours!!!

Hard roads gave the cars no mercy on this last night which saw the Winkless Volvo lose three of its gears and at one hill he had to drive up using reverse – his time, according to rally folklore, beating an unnamed driver in a Gordini – and in all he lost 21 controls. Many crews were losing time, and quite a few dropped controls just to stay within the late time limit.

The blistering pace set by Keran saw him outstripping his service crews and, despite the Volvo’s softening shock absorbers, put paid to any chance that Kilfoyle had of catching him, although at one stage he did make up three points in a section.  However, on the run to Tumut Roberts did best of all, losing 7 points to 9 by Kilfoyle and Keran and Watson each 12.

From Tumut the course involved some little tests and passed through Jugiong, Mt Werong (near Wombeyan Caves) and Shooters Hill to Katoomba.

The crews had a breathing space at Katoomba and then moved onto Bilpin for some spectator viewing sections before arriving at the finish at a very crowded Bondi Beach.

After Albury, Keran kept up his pace and lost 22 points, followed by Greg Garard on 25, Hodgson on 27 and Bond with 39. Indicating they had problems along the way Roberts dropped 43, Kilfoyle 47 and Watson 66. Wilkinson and Taylor dropped out of the top ten to let John Garard and Peter Houghton in.

Final Results:

1 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142 S 48
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 82
3 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 85
4 Tony Roberts Mike Osborne Holden HK 89
5 Bruce Hodgson Bob Forsyth Ford Cortina GT 93
6 Bob Watson Jim McAuliffe Holden HK 108
7 Greg Garard Roy Denny Holden Monaro 117
8 John Garard Barry Waldron Holden Monaro 126
9 Doug Stewart Brian Field Mitsubishi Colt 128
10 Peter Houghton Mick Neilsen Peugeot 404 143

Mitsubishi Team crews members Colin Bond/Brian Hope and Doug Steward/Barry Field each produced great results in the Colt 1100SS. They were in the Top Ten for the entire event and finished 3rd and 9th outright respectively.

Evan Green/George Shepheard in action at Amaroo Park

PHOTOGRAPHS

November 1968 FRONT COVER