Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1971 Australian Rally Championship

1971 Series Winners – Colin Bond/George Shepheard in the Holden Torana XU-1 in the 1970 Southern Cross Rally
1971 Series Winners – Colin Bond/George Shepheard in the Holden Torana XU-1 in the 1970 Southern Cross Rally


At the beginning of 1970 there seemed to be an excitement in the world of Australian rallying as cars and crews were preparing for action in Australia’s bi-centenary year. The year ended with an exciting national rally series to remember, although the events were dominated by Bob Watson and Jim McAuliffe in the Renault Gordini R8. And there was the big Ampol Captain Cook B-Centennial Trial mid-year, with its 200-plus car field, to look forward to.

1971, however, seemed to lack direction and enthusiasm. The big supporters (car manufacturers and dealers) were not showing any anxiety to field crews and teams and probably this was because of the disappointment in the highly touted ‘Ampol Trial’ which turned out to be a long tour with barely one tenth of fair to good competition. This meant that a lot of rally budget money was spent and to some extent wasted. And provision had to be made for the mooted London to Sydney Marathon being planned for 1972 (which never happened). On the other hand, there was the planned Dulux Rally at the end of the year, although this was to be a run from Sydney to Brisbane to Melbourne over eleven days – a bit long and expensive for the average competitor.

But as the year unfolded the rounds of the Australian Rally Championship provided excitement to competitors, officials and spectators alike. The six round format of two events in New South Wales and Victoria, plus one each in Queensland and South Australia, continued and provided serious competitors with a full series of competition.

One question on everyone’s lips was around the ability of the Renault Team to continue its remarkable success of 1970, when Bob Watson/Jim McAuliffe won four rounds and the others in the Team finished well in the top six placings of most of the five events. Or could the newly formed Holden Dealer Team counter the Renault Team with its Holden XU-1. Renault would run the same team in three new Gordinis.

Waiting in the wings to break into Australian rallying in a prominent way were the Japanese manufacturers, particularly Datsun and Mitsubishi.

Vehicle Eligibility
Vehicle eligibility was based on CAMS Group C – Australian Touring Cars

Championship Point-scoring
1st = 9, 2nd = 6, 3rd = 4, 4th = 3, 5th = 2, 6th = 1


This document includes the summary, details of each of the six rounds of the 1971 ARC and is 6 pages in length. 

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