Sydney – Port Macquarie, 14-18 OCTOBER 1978

It was Australia’s year in the “Southern Cross” with George Fury taking first place in his works Datsun Stanza, with another seven of the top ten placings going to the locals. Colin Bond claimed second place in his Escort and Wayne Bell was third in a Gemini. Not that international representation was lacking, for Andrew Cowan was back – this time in a VW Golf, once again Rauno Aaltonen and Harry Kallstrom were part of the powerful Datsun Team, and a dozen Japanese teams made the annual pilgrimage. In addition four crews came from the Philippines, one from New Caledonia, and Stuart McKenzie (Datsun 1200) from New Zealand.

Early leader of the 57 car field was Fury and he was to retain this spot for the whole 2500 km despite strong challenges from Bell, Dunkerton (Datsun Team Stanza), Kallstrom and Bond. Aaltonen retired early with a shattered engine, Cowan was out after his Golf broke a drive shaft and Carr’s run in the Escort came to a halt with a stripped differential. Bond pushed hard to be the fastest in the second division and moved up to be third overall. Dunkerton had hit a bridge, losing valuable time, and Kallstrom was out with a blown engine. Three Japanese were placed in the top ten, and were looking good! A missing page of instructions sent Bell astray in Division Three and Bond moved through to second, leaving Bell to fend off Dunkerton’s charge for third. 25 cars started the final division and Bond was determined to make up the nine-minute deficit on Fury but he tried too hard, locking up and hitting a bank, which broke his lights. Bell was in trouble too, with a split manifold, but he pressed on and even a broken clutch cable could not take third spot from him as he trailed Fury and Bond over the finish line.

Results (all finishers)

1st: Nissan Motor Australia: George Fury / Monty Suffern, Datsun Stanza, 1h25m17s
2nd: Ford Motor Co. of Aust: Colin Bond / John Dawson-Damer, Ford Escort RS1800, 1h37m12s
3rd: Marlboro HDT: Wayne Bell / George Shepheard, Holden Gemini, 1h58m32s
4th: Nissan Motor Australia: Ross Dunkerton / Adrian Mortimer, Datsun Stanza, 2h17m42s
5th: Gosford Dyno Tune / Rallyequip: Frank Neale / Phil Dodd, Mitsubishi Lancer, 3h18m50s
6th: Team Crystal Rallyequip: Shigeru Kanno /Kiyoshi Kawamura, Mitsubishi Lancer, 3h37m39s
7th: Team Crystal Rallyequip: Shinya Yamauchi / Toshiaki Fukui, Toyota Levin, 3h38m10s
8th: Gosford Dyno Tune / Rallyequip: Ian Hill / Ann Heaney, Mitsubishi Lancer, 4h00m06s
9th: Gosford Dyno Tune / Rallyequip: Mike Bell / Peter Pattenden, Mitsubishi Lancer, 4h22m35s
10th: Team Crystal Rallyequip: Mitsuo Ayabe / Mamoru Namiki, Toyota Levin, 4h33m16s
11th: Bob Moore / Graham Pigram, Mitsubishi Galant, 4h55m33s
12th: Bruce Cheeseman / Alan Horsely, Mitsubishi Lancer, 5h01m38s
13th: Stephen Blair / Ross Ferguson, Datsun 180B, 5h30m19s
14th: Stones Corner Motors: Hank Kabel / Simon Kabel, Mazda 323, 6h00m26s
15th: Apex Batteries P/L: Gary Meehan / Graham Roser, Toyota Celica, 6h08m30s
16th: Team Crystal Rallyequip: Toshihisa Akimoto / Katsuhisa Torita, Mitsubishi Lancer, 6h08m48s
17th: Route 6 Japan: Wayne Griffiths / Barbara Beveridge, Honda Civic, 6h22m26s
18th: Minory Yoneda / Norm Syme, Isuzu Gemini, 6h29m15s
19th: Team Crystal Rallyequip: Masakazu Wakamatsu / Takashi Yufube, Nissan H510, 6h55m31s
20th: Arthur Tuason / Bou Saycon, Ford Escort RS2000, 6h59m39s
21st: Pacific Ford: John Bryson / Sonya Kable-Cumming, Ford Escort RS2000, 7h16m07s
22nd: Juan Pascual / Ernesto Echauz, Toyota Corolla, 8h24m06s