Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1986 Australian Rally Championship

1986 Australian Rally Champion Driver and Car – Barry Lowe and Subaru RX Turbo.
1986 Australian Rally Champion Driver and Car – Barry Lowe and Subaru RX Turbo. Kate Officer won the Navigators Championship.


Barry Lowe put together a new Subaru for 1986 when his 1985 sponsor and navigator Kevin Pedder moved on after the first event, and Mark Stacey took over the left seat. In 1985 he grafted the championship title, and he did it again in 1986 when no one crew dominated the series in terms of outright wins. Lowe won one event (his home round in South Australia) and was second in Queensland, third in both Tasmania and West Australia, and sixth in the Bega Rally and seventh in the Alpine. He was 17 points ahead of David Officer in the Mitsubishi Starion, who also won his home event (Alpine Rally) and took off a second, third, fourth, sixth and eighth in the other rounds, to hold off Andrew Murfett/Tony Jackson in the Mazda 323 4WD by two points.

As Mark Stacey missed the first round of the series this let Kate Officer (nee Hobson) take off the Navigators Championship – by one point for her second title win in three years – and it was very rare that the driver and navigator champions were not from the same car.

1986 was a season which was another lacklustre series which was marked by small fields, poor organisation and ill conceived scheduling of events. The two most difficult events to get to – Tasmania and Western Australia – were only three weeks apart, then two further rounds a month apart followed by a three month break to the last two rounds.

One pleasing feature for the proponents of vehicle eligibility change was the increasing crop of Group A cars which swelled the ranks of top-line drivers to battle for outright placings against the highly modified Group G machines – the fragile but potentially very quick Alfa GTV6 of Greg Carr/Fred Gocentas, Mazda 323 Familias of Murfett and Murray Coote/Iain Stewart, Mitsubishi Starion of Officer, and Wayne Bell/Dave Boddy with the Toyota Corolla GT. The Group A cars dominated such that they took out four of the six rounds.

The first round in Tasmania was won by Peter Glennie/Coral Taylor (Group G Datsun 120Y) with Officer second and Lowe third. In the second round in Western Australia Bell, probably the quickest driver of the year, took out the honors ahead of Peter Clark/Wayne Kenny (Group A Subaru) and Lowe. Then came the Bega Valley Rally where local junior David Eadie, with Chris Shearer took off a win in his battered-looking Datsun 1600, followed by another 1600 of Ron McKinnon/Steve Owers and third went to Greg Carr in the Alfa.

A disastrously organised Queensland round was won by Andrew Murfett with the 323, with Lowe picking up second and Murray Coote third. In October it was South Australia’s turn and Lowe lived up to expectations by winning the round from Murfett and Officer.

So, heading to the final round, the Alpine Rally, Lowe was in the strong position of only having to finish no lower than fourth in Group A to take out his second successive title, with Officer close enough to grab it if he failed.

George Fury/Mick Harker (Group G Datsun 120Y) were presented with the winner’s laurels at the finish – Fury had never previously won this event – but they were deemed to have taken a short cut of the course by the Stewards and were excluded from the event, giving the lead to David and Kate Officer. Lowe/Stacey finished seventh overall, and fourth Group A to give him the 1986 championship.



This document includes the summary, details of six rounds of the 1986 ARC and is 9 pages in length. 

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