Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1973 Australian Rally Championship

1973 Australian Rally Champions – Peter Lang (ACT)/Warwick Smith (Vic) in the Holden Torana GTR XU-1


From Canberra, Peter Lang, star recruit for the Holden Dealer Team (HDT) in 1973, took out the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) in a Holden Torana XU-1. His navigator was Warwick Smith, from Victoria. They participated consistently and were rewarded with three wins, a second and a fourth.

1973 went down as the year of the Torana with all six rounds won by the XU-1 and no other make offered a serious challenge to its power, handling and reliability. This came as no surprise to many people who had predicted a one-sided contest once the vehicle technical regulations were issued – restricted eligibility to what was virtually standard vehicles with no engine modifications or strengthening of body or suspensions. Nor did it allow for cars with specially homologated rally components, such as the Mitsubishi Galant/Lancer or the Datsun 180B which were being prepared for the Southern Cross Rally. The regulations were strongly criticised as they acted against the privateer competitor unable to afford constant replacement of damaged parts. Thus, the result was a one-horse race.

All events permitted any car to be entered but only those cars conforming to the ARC technical regulations were eligible for championship points.

Despite the lack of formidable competition from the other makes the 1973 events lacked little by the way of interest, with no fewer than three crews holding the lead at different times. Defending champions Colin Bond/George Shepheard were out for a hat-trick of championships won two rounds but had to be content with second overall. South Australian champions Stewart McLeod/Adrian Mortimer took an early lead when they won the first round but despite further good placings throughout the year they finished third overall.

There were few other serious contenders for the championship. Ed Mulligan/Mike Batten drove well in their Mazda RX2 to finish fourth; Tony Roberts/Jeff Beaumont started the year well in their Peugeot 504 but when Renault withdrew from motor sport they were left without a ride. They appeared twice more in Saab 99 and gained fifth position in the series.

Bruce Hodgson/Fred Gocentas had an unhappy year in their big Falcon GT 351, being plagued with punctures and numerous small problems which kept them from major placings. A number of other crews competed in various rounds but none except Frank Kilfoyle/Mike Osborne ever looked like topping the HDT. They were poised to take out fourth in the championship until their works Datsun 240Z broke its differential almost in sight of the finish of the Bega Valley 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 1973 ARC and is 8 pages in length. 

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