Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks

1984 Australian Rally Championship

1984 Australian Rally Champions – David Officer, Kate Hobson and Mitsubishi Galant
1984 Australian Rally Champions – David Officer, Kate Hobson and Mitsubishi Galant

1984 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

The 17th Australian Rally Championship was held over six events across Australia, the season consisting of one event each for Queensland and West Australia and two each for New South Wales and Victoria. It was an unusual season, with very little manufacturer backing and a mix of classes with the introduction of the Production Rally Car (PRC) Category. Both PRC and Group G were awarded equal points towards the championship, with bonus points for the first four outright placings. This was to cause a split in the sport which became a huge rift as the season progressed, as the various factions hardened their attitudes to the unusual scoring method. So it was a strange and difficult year, which again saw rallying wandering in the motor sport wilderness, but there were signs of revival of manufacturer interest, with Subaru standing on the sidelines during the latter part of the year looking to decide to enter a fleet to four-wheel drive cars.

At the start of the year the obvious title contenders were Greg Carr, Geoff Portman and David Officer in the Group G category, while Ed Mulligan decided to try the PRC ‘back door’ to victory. In the end only Officer and Mulligan stayed within their original plans as both Carr and Portman made a foray into PRC during the series.

1984 may have been Officers year but Greg Carr was the fastest driver in the ‘time bomb’ – as the Fiat 131 Abarth was referred to – managing to end the Carr/Fred Gocentas prpospects of winning the series with a series of unpredictable, and sometimes unexplained, mechanical failures, quite unlike their 1983 experience.

Portman had a difficult year with the Nissan Bluebird, the choice of vehicle being a poor one; Ian Hill/Phil Bonser did well with the ex-works Ford Escort (picking up a win) and Murray Coote/Iain Stewart picked up top placings with their radical and well-prepared Datsun 1200. Ross Dunkerton appeared twice in his Datsun 1600 and evergreen Clive Slater continued his cross-country forays from Perth, but without any success, although he picked up a very fine second in his home championship event. George Fury made a single appearance in the Alpine Rally and Hugh Bell, after a fine 1983, slipped back, finishing in the top ten on only one occasion.

David Officer, with Kate Hobson (later Officer) took off the first event at Bairnsdale in Victoria after both Portman and Carr fell by the wayside; Ed Mulligan’s plan via the PRC route immediately paid off when he took maximum PRC points to equal Officer, but who was just ahead because of the extra bonus points. Then at Bathurst, Carr/Fred Gocentas took off the win from Hill and Portman, with Mulligan again leading PRC. Officer slid off the road into retirement.

Round three was in Queensland where Carr again won, ahead of Officer and Coote, with Mulligan continuing his winning streak in PRC. Then for the Perth round Carr swapped to the Jim Middleton’s PRC Commodore in an effort to check Mulligan and was successful. The Dunlop-2GO, again replacing the long standing Bega Valley Rally, and run for the first time as a four day event, saw Ian Hill/Phil Bonser take the win, ahead of Officer and Dunkerton. Japanese driver Hotta and Wayne Bell (driving the second Fiat to run interference in Mulligan’s point-scoring) checked Mulligan into third PRC place.

This all meant that the title battle went down to the running of the Alpine Rally, where Officer took off the event and the championship. Mulligan needed to win PRC to take the championship but came second to Jim Middleton/Garry Marshall.

Although the scoring for Group G and PRC caused controversy at least it made the season interesting.

1984 CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

This document includes the summary, details of SIX rounds of the 1984 ARC and is 10 pages in length. 

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