John Keran/Peter Meyer and the 1968 Southern Cross International Rally winning Volvo 142S

1969
8 – 12 OCTOBER
SURFERS PARADISE – LISMORE - TOOWOOMBA – SURFERS PARADISE

PREAMBLE

Broad smiles and happy faces from 1969 winners Andrew Cowan and David Johnson (his second win in the event)

Andrew Cowan broke the hoodoo on overseas drivers by becoming the first non-Australian to win an international event in this country when he won the 1969 Southern Cross International Rally. Driving an ex-1968 London to Sydney Marathon Austin 1800, with Sydney-based navigator Dave Johnson, he fought out an exciting finish with Victorians Frank Kilfoyle and Doug Rutherford (Ford Cortina) to win by only 6 points – relegating both Kilfoyle and Rutherford to their third successive second place in the rally.

The format of the past three events was changed for 1969 and it was conducted in Northern New South Wales and Southern Queensland due to a dispute over rallies in New South Wales, which saw major modifications in the way motor sport on the open road in that section was changed.

SUMMARY

Andrew Cowan, fresh from his 1968 London to Sydney Marathon win, set a scorching pace in his Austin 1800 with Dave Johnson navigating. The Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford crew was the only one to provide Cowan with any real opposition. 1968 winner John Keran received a setback with his challenge when he miscued on a bridge in the dust and finished 6th outright whilst Colin Bond fought hard in his Colt 1500 to finish third outright, having overcome early brake failure and engine overheating.

With rallying in New South Wales banned for the year in 1969 whilst an agreement on the use of shire roads was discussed between CAMS and Shire Councils, the Southern Cross Rally moved north to start and finish in Surfers Paradise. The first half ran down into the Northern New South Wales towns of Murwillumbah, Lismore (first day break), Casino, Kyogle and Tenterfield before moving back into Queensland via Warwick to be based at Toowoomba for the second and third day breaks. Then the route headed north from Toowoomba north to Maryborough, and returned south through rally country west of the Sunshine Coast before finishing at Surfers Paradise.

Due to the terrain and the density of population this year’s event was of different character to the past three, and future, Southern Cross Rallies. 13 sections were 5km or shorter, whilst transport sections were tight on time and many crews on numerous occasions lost points for being late on numerous occasions.

It contained a degree of navigation, unlike other years which were fully route-charted. Director Allan Lawson had difficulty in setting the event, with getting permissions from shires difficult and indeed, it was only a few weeks before the event that Lawson was certain it could be conducted. The rough edges of the event were route charts being set in different cars, control officials who could be ‘conned’ by competitors (due probably to lack of adequate briefing as they were not as experienced as their counterparts in the southern events) and, generally, quite a few mistakes in the organisation of the event, due to the difficulties in setting it up.

However, the important issue was that the event was conducted, giving it continuity, and allowing breathing space while other potential areas in which to conduct the event were found.

Final Outright Placings

1 Andrew Cowan Dave Johnson Austin 1800 63
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 66
3 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 1500 SS 118
4 Barry Ferguson Roger Bonhomme Holden Monaro GTS 120
5 Bruce Collier Lindsay Adcock Renault Gordini 150
6 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142 S 165
=7 Doug Stewart Nigel Collier Mitsubishi Colt 1500 SS 198
=7 Barry Lloyd Albert Browne Mitsubishi Colt 1500 SS 198
9 David McKay John Bryson Mercedes 280 SE 208
10 Gary Mecak Ross Kelly Ford Cortina GT 230

Series Production Class Placings

A Up to 1000cc Jack Mullins Peter Brown Daihatsu GT
B 1001 to 1300cc Henk Kabel Bob Dancer Toyota Corolla
C 1301 to 1600cc Garry Mecak Ross Kelly Ford Cortina GT
D 1601 to 2000cc Ossie Jackson Arthur Jackson Volvo 122S
E 2001 to 3000 cc David McKay John Bryson Mercedes 280SE
F Over 3000cc Lionel Williams Graham Mewburn Holden HK

Special Production Class Placings

G Up to 1300cc Bruce Wilkinson Ian Inglis Datsun 1000
H 1301 to 1600cc Bruce Collier Lindsay Adcock Renault Gordini
I 1301 to 1600cc Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT
J 1601 to 2000cc Andrew Cowan Dave Johnson Austin 1800
K 2001 to 3000cc No entries
L Over 3000cc Barry Ferguson Roger Bonhomme Holden HK GTS

Manufacturers Award: Mitsubishi Colts
Ladies Award: Lynn Keeffe/Carol Waldron (Hillman Hunter GT)

VEHICLE ELIGIBILITY

The event catered for FIA Group 2 (Touring Cars) and Group 5 (Special Touring Cars).

EVENT DETAILS/ ORGANISING TEAM

Event Details

The event was conducted over approximately 3300 kilometres, of which 1400 (43%) were competitive. These were conducted in 52 special sections, ranging from 12 sections up to 5 kilometres long, and 7 over 50 to 90 kilometres and one at 120 kilometres.

Organising Team

Director: Allan Lawson

Director:  Allan Lawson
Secretary: John Arter

Organising Committee:

  • Stephen Halloran
  • Geoffrey Linn
  • John Whitton

Sponsors

  • Ocean Shores Estate Developers
  • Amoco
  • Andronicus Coffee
  • Travelodge Motels
ENTRIES

73 entries came from all states of Australia plus Scotland, New Guinea, New Caledonia, New Zealand, with non-starters after enquiries from Argentine and Indonesia.

British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) entered a strong team of Austin 1800s, all 1968 London to Sydney Marathon cars, for Andrew Cowan/David Johnson, Evan Green/Roy Denny, ex-Holden driver Greg Garard/Peter Mulder.

The Victorian Walton’s Rally Team fielded Renault 16TS cars for Bob Watson/Jim McAuliffe, Peter Janson/Neville Price and Mal McPherson/Robin Sharpley, with Sydney-based Bruce Collier/Lindsay Adcock in a Renault Gordini rounding out the Renault assault.

John Keran/Peter Meyer headed a smattering of Volvo 144S and was considered the best chance of a win, given his strong performance in taking off the 1968 Southern Cross Rally.

Mitsubishi Australia entered Colt 1500SSS cars for Colin Bond*/Brian Hope, Doug Stewart/Nigel Collier, and a 1100SSS for Barry Lloyd/Albert Brown and David Hansen/Barry Field.

Nissan continued its involvement by supporting Bruce Wilkinson in a Datsun 1000, going for a class win, which he achieved.

Ford entered Lotus Cortinas were driven by Frank Kilfoyle/Doug Rutherford, Ian Vaughan/Bob Forsyth and Tony Roberts*/Mike Osborne. Bob Holden/George Shepheard also competed in a Lotus Cortina.

The GM-H Dealer Team pinned its hopes on Barry Ferguson/Roger Bonhomme in a Holden Monaro.

Westralian Bob Bullock was back for his fourth Southern Cross Rally, this time with David Hughes in a Volvo 122S.

*Bond & Roberts were fresh from their Hardie-Ferodo Holden Dealer team Monaro GT350 win the previous weekend.

1967 winner, Barry Ferson, with Roger Bonhomme as his navigator, made the change from a Volkswagen to the new Holden Monaro GTS 253 V8.

THE EVENT

Note: The google maps show very broadly the course for each day

Division One: Gold Coast to Lismore via many places

Covering some 750 kilometres Division One was conducted over 14 special sections totalling 460 kilometres (61%).

The start was from the Chevron Hotel in Surfers Paradise in the late afternoon and, after a couple of ‘mickey mouse’ sections for media purposes close to Surfers Paradise, restarted in earnest when darkness fell, taking in visits to Murwillumbah and Kyogle before the rest break at Lismore.

The action opened at the Ocean Shores development, where the Kilfoyle/Rutherford Lotus Cortina scrambles up the special section hilllcimb. The event restarted after a couple of short sections, conducted for publicity purposes.

Almost immediately two top crews had trouble. Tony Roberts (Ford Cortina), fresh from winning the ‘Hardie-Ferodo 500 Mile Race’ at Bathurst the previous weekend, noticed a loss of oil pressure and then found his oil pump smashed by a rock. This was soon fixed by his service crew but he lost 512 points! Bob Watson’s Renault 16TS had electrical problems but the time he took to fix the distributor was given back later, as the section was deleted due to a local citizen creating problems such that the police took him away in the end!

The first refuel was at Murwillumbah and many cars were already sounding ‘sick’. Ian Vaughan (Ford Cortina) left and soon returned with a broken gearbox which ended up costing him 121 points, and with Tony Roberts rejoining here on 512 points, success in the event for Ford looked grim indeed, with the burden of winning now resting solely on Frank Kilfoyle’s shoulders.

A 55km special section run over broken tarmac roads and rough forest tracks caused problems for some potential leaders. John Keran left the road in blinding dust and luckily was towed back by Max Stahl in a Renault 10. But this cost him time and points, as it did Colin Bond whose Mitsubishi Colt blew a rear brake seal and he too left the road for a time. Mal McPherson’s Renault 16TS petrol lead came off, resulting also in time lost.

On the next section Evan Green’s Austin 1800 blew a head gasket which started an unfortunate chain of events for him; Bob Watson (Renault 16TS), Colin Bond and Peter Janson (Renault 16TS) all took to the scrub at a concealed tee junction, with Janson’s car retired with a blown piston.

Evan Green/Roy Denny blew a head gasket in the Austin 1800

There were many short sections which were quick but the top crews beat the times allowed and cleaned them. Cowan was setting a blistering pace on this first night, so much so that the Australian competitors thought he was too fast and that he would come to grief with broken suspension or gearbox. However, the ex-London to Sydney Marathon 1800 sped on and on and when Cowan took the first on-the-road position he was only headed for a very brief time by Ferguson on the last night.

Cowan actually missed a checkpoint in one the sections but had some Scottish luck when the official went off to work before the passage of the field (which was undoubtedly running late by this time) and the section was deleted.

1 Andrew Cowan Dave Johnson Austin 1800 20 pts
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 20
3 Doug Stewart Nigel Collier Mitsubishi Colt 31
4 Bob Holden George Shepheard Ford Cortina 36
5 John Taylor Graham West Morris Cooper S 38
6 Greg Garard Peter Mulder Austin 1800 41
7 Barry Lloyd Albert Browne Mitsubishi Colt 1500 44
8 Lloyd Robertson Brian Gammell Volkswagen 46
=9 Barry Ferguson Roger Bonhomme Holden Monaro 47
=9 David McKay John Bryson Mercedes 280SE 47

Division Two: Lismore to Toowoomba via Warwick

750 kilometres also made up Division Two, with 400 (53%) set in 15 special sections.

After the one-day stop at Lismore the rally moved west through Casino, and then the field was held up at Bushy’s Flat for an hour while missing control officials were located and put into position, and Frank Kilfoyle spent the time reshaping a mudguard damaged by a very solid kangaroo. On the run out from Casino, on a tight transport section, George Shepheard led Bob Holden down an impassable road looking for a non-existent navigational trap and they lost 18 points.

After a section at Bonalbo the event headed through Woodenbong into Queensland to Killaney.

The route instructions for a section near Upper Tooloom carried the following information for competitors – “Many dangerous curves. We have been asked by the Tenterfield Shire Council to tell you that this is NOT a fair sample of the Shire’s roads”.

Cowan & Johnson were flying in their Austin 1800 with other crews waiting for them to come unstuck – but they didn’t!

Cowan and Johnson were still flying and extending their lead control by control. Many competitors felt (hoped!) that the roughening terrain would soon take its toll on the 1800.

The run from Boondah to the refuel and service break at Warwick, a loop to the south and west of the town and back towards Boondah and so north to Toowoomba, included many very short sections (even down to two minutes). One section contained eight gates, each with a different latch system! Most crews lost points on both the competitive and transport sections and after 16 competitive sections on this division the crews were pleased to reach Toowoomba for the first of two-one day rest breaks here. Crews straggled in throughout the day and some of them must not have had much sleep before starting on Division Three.

Results at Toowoomba (second night) after a total of 1500km

1 Andrew Cowan Dave Johnson Austin 1800 28
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina 39
3 John Taylor Graham West Morris Cooper S 59
4 Greg Garard Peter Mulder Austin 1800 71
=5 Barry Ferguson Roger Bonhomme Holden Monaro 73
=5 Barry Lloyd Albert Browne Mitsubishi Colt 73
7 Greg Garard Peter Mulder Austin 1800 41
8 David McKay John Bryson Mercedes 280SE 87
9 R.Harvey John Souminen Renault 16TS 88
=10 Bob Holden George Shepheard Ford Cortina 91
=10 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 91

Division Three: Toowoomba back to Toowoomba via Warwick

Division Three covered 780 kilometres of which 360 (46%) were over special sections.

The route headed north from Toowoomba into a navigation section which required a good deal of attention by navigators to turnings and distances or crews were really in strife. And quite a few were! By the time they sorted themselves out they were at the end-of-section control location, running late, only to find this was a non-existent control (as used in those days) and they then had 35 minutes to make the 45km dash to the next control at Dalby – and there were no speed limits in those days!! The overseas competitors were not at all happy about the navigation as they were not experienced with this style of instruction.

Heading south back towards Warwick, some of the sections, which were considerably longer than the previous division, were conducted over flat terrain on private property roads that were truly competitive, but the best section had to be deleted due to a clerical error in the route chart, which saw crews turning in all directions until they eventually got back on the correct route; another section was some six kilometres shorter than the actual distance which caused some concern to many of the crews as they contemplated whether this was another non-existent control or not – but it wasn’t and after starting on the next section the required control suddenly appeared and they were late!

Then at Cullendore, near Warwick, John Taylor’s Cooper S was retired with both the differential and drive-shaft broken.

Thereafter, the event turned back north through the Great Dividing Range and generally the night was a succession of short sections with times just tight enough to keep the pressure on the leaders. Cowan coasted along to maintain his lead, but many couldn’t go fast enough to keep up with his ‘taking it easy’ pace!

The last section before the break back at Toowoomba included a hillclimb, which was very slippery and 15 crews had to detour after trying the hill and took a ‘wrong direction’ penalty, whilst another 12 missed the control on the other side of the ridge altogether. Those who didn’t get through claimed that the section should be deleted.

John Keran was best on the night (10 points), bringing him into the top ten, and Colin Bond, pushing the Colt hard, (11 points) moved into fourth. Frank Kilfoyle’s effort with the big Monaro was good and he picked up a minute on Andrew Cowan, but Cowan’s lead was comfortable, although Kilf was just waiting for the 1800 to blow-up. Bob Holden dropped from contention of a good placing with a broken axle in his Cortina.

Results at Toowoomba (third night) after a total of 2400km

1 Andrew Cowan Dave Johnson Austin 1800 44
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 54
3 Barry Ferguson Roger Bonhomme Holden Monaro GTS 92
4 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 102
5 Bob Watson Jim McAuliffe Renault 16TS 120
6 David McKay John Bryson Mercedes 280 SE 129
7 Evan Green Roy Denny Austin 1800 130
8 R.Harvey John Souminen Renault 16TS 143
9 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142 S 145
10 Barry Lloyd Albert Browne Mitsubishi Colt 147

Division Four: Toowoomba to Gold Coast via Maryborough

The final night was the longest of the event and covered 1000 plus kilometres, with 400 (40%) run over 15 special sections.

The route from Toowoomba headed to the mountainous country around Kilcoy, north of Brisbane, and then onto Maryborough and back south to take in the forests west of the Sunshine Coast – Jimna, Imbil and Kenilworth; then to Lakeside for a ‘mickey mouse’ section and the drive further south to another one at the Surfers Paradise circuit.

To start the division, the crews competed at the Toowoomba hill climb venue in a huge bowl-like amphitheatre, which drew many spectators. Doug Chivas went right instead of left to get onto the return road and damaged his car’s front end.

On form and flying Bruce Collier/Lindsay Adock in the Renault Gordini burnt up the track on the Toowoomba circuit special section

Around Kilcoy, wet weather set in and Cowan was emphatic that he had never seen such mud in any rally anywhere before. One section was a big loop that was tight and slippery and competitors wondered at the skill of David McKay in getting the almost 2 tonne Mercedes through the course.

David McKay/John Bryson charge the ex-London to Sydney 280SE Mercedes through a splash during its exhilarating run to finish in 9th place outright.

The mud made corners treacherous, resulting in cars going off the tracks, including Cowan. Director Lawson was forced to cancel a couple of sections, due to the terrible roads where a large number of the crews would have been bogged for an indeterminate time.

Kilfoyle was steadily catching Cowan throughout the night, providing the excitement for a close finish. Over the night he lost 12 points to Cowans 19, finally given Cowan an ‘oh-so-narrow’ three point win at the finish.

Colin Bond was also flying and he lost 16 points to Ferguson’s 28 - the latter being caught in a bog hole for a time. This effort gave Bond third place at the finish.

Colin Bond/Brian Hope in the Mitsubishi Colt 1500SSS to finish 3rd outright

Doug Stewart was going hard, as usual, and making up time on most competitors after having lost time when a bottom radiator hose had been cut by the Colt’s fan. His effort saw him move into the top ten to finish equal seventh with teammate Barry Lloyd.  Greg Garard, having his first drive in the Austin 1800, was surprised how fast he could go but after the first night he gradually dropped back in the field and finally dropped out when a drive-shaft gave way. Watson, Green and Harvey gave way on the last night to let Bruce Collier, Stewart and Gary Mecak into the top ten.

At the Lakeside Raceway there was a ‘super section’, the course having the cars all over the circuit property except on the bitumen! Point losses were not vital but cars were spearing over banks into the lake and generally having big losses.

Doug Chivas, with navigator Brian McIlvenna, got the Valiant Pace moving on the special section around the Surfers Paradise speedway track.

After Lakeside the field headed to the Surfers Paradise Raceway for a repeat performance of the first day. Then a parade to the finish at the Esplanade in Surfers Paradise. The Mitsubishi Team was ecstatic, with its three Colts finishing 3rd and two on equal 7th, setting the scene for Mitsubishi’s dominance in the Southern Cross International Rally in the coming years.

Final results at Surfers Paradise after a total of 3400km

1 Andrew Cowan Dave Johnson Austin 1800 63
2 Frank Kilfoyle Doug Rutherford Ford Cortina GT 66
3 Colin Bond Brian Hope Mitsubishi Colt 1500 SS 118
4 Barry Ferguson Roger Bonhomme Holden Monaro GTS 120
5 Bruce Collier Lindsay Adcock Renault Gordini 150
6 John Keran Peter Meyer Volvo 142 S 165
=7 Doug Stewart Nigel Collier Mitsubishi Colt 1500 SS 198
=7 Barry Lloyd Albert Browne Mitsubishi Colt 1500 SS 198
9 David McKay John Bryson Mercedes 280 SE 208
10 Gary Mecak Ross Kelly Ford Cortina GT 230
EVENT SIDELINES
  • Despite his commanding lead throughout the event Andrew Cowan complained that the Austin 1800 wouldn’t rev over 6200. After the event Evan Green checked the tachometer and found it was 1700 revs slow against a master!!!
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    At the finish in Surfers Paradise on the Sunday afternoon Peter Janson was vocal with a microphone in his hand and helped keep the thousands of spectators entertained with his hour-long commentary describing the competitors’ history as they arrived – whether he knew it or not!!!

Full power on, Even Green/Roy Denney in the Cooper S take a wide line on loose dirt

PHOTOGRAPHS

1967 Southern Cross International Rally winner, Barry Feguson, made the change readily from the small Volkswagen to the large Holden Monaro GTS350, with Roger Bonhomme as his navigator