Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1972 Australian Rally Championship

1972 Australian Rally Champions – Colin Bond/George Shepheard in the Holden Torana XU1


The cars of the Holden Dealer Team, led by the legendary Harry Firth, were simply too fast, too reliable, too well driven and navigated, and too well organised to give any other of the competitors a chance. The Team won five of the six championship events and was second in three.

The hoped-for-challenge from the Mitsubishi Galants which ran so strongly in the Southern Cross Rally in 1971 and would be further developed for that event in 1972 did not eventuate. The marque had been taken over by Chrysler who distributed them in Australia but did not actively participate in any form of motor sport and the team of Galants were little more than private entries and were backed by minor financial and technical assistance. They were beset by numerous minor mechanical difficulties. At times they looked to be able to give the Holdens a run but, just as often, they fell by the wayside.

After a late challenge to the Toranas at the 1971 Southern Cross Rally, the works Mitsubishi Galants were expected to do well in the 1972 Australian Rally Championship and pose a major threat to Harry Firth’s HDT domination of the series. However it was not to be, as the cars were poorly backed up and suffered from various incidents which cost them the chance of any outright wins. The HDT LJ Torana XU-1’s won five of the six rounds. Mitsubishi’s best finishes were a second place in the Alpine (for Doug Stewart and Dave Johnson) and third in the Warana (Doug Stewart and Dave Johnson) and Snowy Mountains rallies (Doug Chivas and Peter Meyer).

Another major challenge was expected from Renault. Their Renault R8 Gordinis had dominated the 1970 season and the new R12 Gordinis were faster and the team was hoping this would ensure some success for 1972. Tom Barr-Smith was second in the Walkerville 500, and Bob Watson managed a third in the Akademos, but other than that it was a disappointing season.

The Datsun 1600 was proving itself a very fast rally car and was strongly represented in 1972, with high placings potentially going to sponsored privateers such as Peter Lang/Ed O’Cleary, and Graeme Elliott/Fred Gocentas.

The Holden Dealer Team’s Colin Bond and George Shepheard dominated the championship, winning three rounds together and a fourth for Shepheard when he navigated for Frank Kilfoyle in the final round, the Alpine Rally.

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 1972 ARC and is 9 pages in length. 

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