SOUTHERN CROSS INTERNATIONAL RALLY
Sydney – Port Macquarie, 13-17 OCTOBER 1979

George Fury and Datsun made it a double when they downed a smaller, though just as strong field of 40 cars in the event sponsored by Port Macquarie business houses and the Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation. Team mates Ross Dunkerton and Rauno Aaltonen brought their Stanzas home second and third thus making it a clean sweep for the Datsun.

Biggest name in the field was current World Champion, Sweden’s Bjorn Waldegaard, in a works Escort RS1800, supported by Australian aces, Colin Bond and Greg Carr in similar vehicles. France’s Jean-Paul Luc came out to drive a private Toyota Celica. The usual contingent of Japanese and Filipino crews was missing, due to a mix-up in vehicle carnets, but the two who did come, Takima and Suzuki, did well.

Dunkerton was the star at the Amaroo opening stage with a gigantic leap off the “yump” of 72 feet, lifting 12 feet in the air. However, once into the forest it was Waldegaard setting the pace, winning eight of the ten stages and leading into Port Macquarie by eight minutes over Fury, then Aaltonen, Dunkerton and Johnson (Mazda RX2) close behind. Carr was out after breaking two axles, Bond broke one and dropped to 15th and Wayne Bell’s Gemini retired with a blown clutch.

Through Division 2, Waldegaard stayed in front but didn’t really get away from Fury. Bond made the best run, climbing up to fifth place past Johnson. Luc was well back after suffering several punctures. Early on the third night, a loose plank on a bridge caught Waldegaard’s front suspension and cost him six minutes. Dunkerton and Aaltonen hit the plank too, causing rear end damage and losing 4 and 36 minutes respectively. Fury was now well in front, but Waldegaard turned up the wick and came into port just three minutes behind. Dunkerton was lying third after being fastest on several stages, followed by Aaltonen well back, but clear of Bond, Johnson and Stewart (Lancer).

The result was still open as the 21 surviving cars began the final division. Going hard, Waldegaard took a minute off Fury, then looked set to get more when he passed Fury changing a tyre, but minutes later the Escort’s diff let go and the World Champion was out. lt was all over, and Fury led home the triumphant Datsun 1-2-3.

Results

1st: George Fury / Monty Suffern, Datsun Stanza, 20h36m09s
2nd: Ross Dunkerton / Jeff Beaumont, Datsun Stanza, 20h49m,20s
3rd: Rauno Aaltonen / Adrian Mortimer, Datsun Stanza, 21h53m53s
4th: Colin Bond / John Dawson-Damer, Ford Escort RS1800, 22h05m19s
5th: Frank Johnson / Steve Halloran, Mazda RX2, 23h18m13s
6th: Nabuhiro “Monster” Tajima / Kiyoshi Kawamura, Toyota Levin, 23h32m26s
7th: Doug Stewart / Col Parry, Holden Commodore, 23h41m35s
8th: Gordon Leven / Robbie Wilson, Datsun H510, 23h46m30s
9th: Geoff Portman / Ross Runnalls, Ford Cortina, 24h05m36s
10th: Ron Marks / Chris Heaney, Datsun 120Y, 24h36m41s
11th: Steve Blair / Ross Ferguson, Datsun Stanza, 24h37m09s
12th: Gary Mecak / Graham Gillies, Mazda RX2, 24h44m29s
13th: Ted Knowles / David Officer, Ford Escort RS 2000, 25h27m18s
14th: Paul Bramble / Arthur Evans, Mitsubishi Galant, 25h40m43s
15th: Ron Cremen / Alan Brookes, Datsun 120Y, 25h57m11s
16th: Eiichi Suzuki / Takashi Yafune, Mitsubishi Lancer, 26h12m39s
17th: Jim Casey / Les Oliver, Ford Escort RS 2000, 26h37m43s