Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks

1976 Southern Cross Rally

9 – 14 OCTOBER 1976

Start (Sydney – Amaroo Park)/Finish (Sydney – Motorcade to Hyde Park)

Andrew Cowan/Fred Gocentas in the Mitsubishi Lancer – from the 1977 cover of the souvenir booklet

Summary

It wasn’t until the last 150 kilometres of the 3300 kilometre 1976 Southern Cross International Rally that five times winner of the event, Andrew Cowan, knew he had a chance of making that six times. This was when the event-long leader, George Fury/Monty Suffern’s Datsun 710 differential failed, putting them out of the rally. Cowan went on to arrive at Port Macquarie with a massive 45 minutes lead over his teammates Barry Ferguson/Neil Faulkner, with the best of the four Datsun 710 team that started the event, crewed by Shehkar Mehta/Adrian Mortimer only two points behind. It was then a considerable gap to the Mitsubishi Team Leader, Doug Stewart, with John Dawson-Damer, 4th place, his best finish in the event.

This year’s event had that strongest international contingency of drivers seen in Australian rallying to date, many of them world-rated stars.

The first night decimated the field, with 31% (26) of the starting field falling by the wayside; the second night was worst with 35% (20) of the 57 that started the second night and on the third night 32% (12) of those starting dropped out. 22 finished within the late time limit, with 10 completing the full course. Although conditions were not as difficult as some previous years when wet weather intervened, the failure rate is an indication of the toughness of event.

However, three privateers finished in the top ten, a very creditable effort demonstrating the abilities of Australia’s privateers.

Final Placings

1Andrew CowanFred GocentasMitsubishi Lancer157 points
2Barry FergusonNeil FaulknerMitsubishi Lancer203 points
3Shekhar MehtaAdrian MortimerDatsun 710 SSS205 points
4Doug StewartJohn Dawson-DamerMitsubishi Lancer271 points
5Kenjiro ShinozukaGarry ConnellyMitsubishi Lancer324 points
6Per-inge WalfridssonPeter GoddenDatsun 710 SSS348 points
7Ian HillGraham RoserMitsubishi Lancer391 points
8David BondIan RichardsMitsubishi Lancer418 points
9Murray CooteBrian MarsdenDatsun 1200437 points
10Peter JansonPaul PatersonMitsubishi Lancer453 points

 

Full details on the 1976 Cross Rally in the document below.

1976 Southern Cross Rally