Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks

1977 Australian Rally Championship

Dual 1977 Australian Rally Champions:  George Fury/Monty Suffern (Datsun 710 SSS) and Ross Dunkerton/Jeff Beaumont (Datsun 260Z) – also drove two events in a Datsun 710 SSS

1977 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

After a number of years of the Australian Rally Championship languishing in the doldrums as a second-rate series things really came to life in 1977.

Colin Bond, long time Holden Dealer Team Driver, winning three Australian Rally Championships in four years, resigned from the team and joined Ford to race with Allan Moffat in a determined bid to win touring car supremacy. Bond’s decision to go with Ford had other benefits. His rally expertise was immediately snapped up and, with Canberra’s Greg Carr, the Ford Escorts burst onto the national rally scene with sensational wins in three of the country’s major rallies. This almost became four wins when Carr, in the remarkable Escort RS 1800, was ‘’robbed’’ of a certain win in the Southern Cross Rally when the car developed alternator problems late in the event and he was relegated to fifth place.

1977 saw five different winners in five rounds and the championship title was shared by two Datsun crews – George Fury/Monty Suffern and Ross Dunkerton/Jeff Beaumont – the former in a Datsun 710 and the latter in a Datsun 260Z for three rounds and a 710 for the remaining two rounds. The year produced first-class competition and a string of exciting events, and any one of the five who won a round could have won the series in the last event and it was hardly all that surprising that the championship ended in a tie.

The dramatic change in the status of the series came about as a result of changes to the regulations on vehicle eligibility. In past years highly restrictive regulations not only discouraged many leading private entrants but also some of the works cars entrants, although they competed with FIA requirements. For 1977 there were fewer eligibility requirements and as a result interest in the series ran higher than ever, with some 20 crews scoring championship points, and many others ran in more than one championship event.

All five events in the series were well run, and tough events, and a true test of cars and crews.

1977 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

This document includes the summary, details of each of the five rounds of the 1977 ARC and is 9 pages in length. 

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