Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1988 Australian Rally Championship

1988 Australian Rally Champions – Murray Coote, Iain Stewart and Mazda 323 4WD
1988 Australian Rally Champions – Murray Coote, Iain Stewart and Mazda 323 4WD.


There were a handful of crews that started the first round of the 1988 series who were regarded as having any chance of taking off the championship. Defending champions Greg Carr/Fred Gocentas were in a Mitsubishi Starion Turbo, Wayne Bell/Dave Boddy in a Mazda 323 4WD, as was Murray Coote/Iain Stewart. David and Kate Officer were back in a Mitsubishi Starion, and Ed Ordynski in a Subaru RX Turbo.

The number of rounds were down to four, with the South Australian Tiles Supplies Rally and the Alpine Rally out from the 1987 itinerary. Tasmania once again opened the season and two contenders saw their chances slip away right from the beginning – Ordynski’s Subaru blew a turbocharger, and he did not reappear until the last round, and Bell’s 323 broke a gearbox. Murray Coote took his 323 to the lead, with Greg Carr second almost four minutes behind him, after early finding the Starion a handful and then it broke a throttle. The Officers were off the pace.

Perth hosted the second round, as usual. The Officers’ national chances disappeared when their Starion was stranded on a broken-down transporter somewhere on the Nullabor and they couldn’t start. Bell took the lead after Clive Slater (Toyota Corolla) hit a tree to put him out of the event, and he was never headed. Carr came second and Coote third, although he was in the championship lead by two points from Carr, with Bell 10 points further back.

David Eadie/Chris Shearer (Mazda 323) continued their dominance of the Bega Valley Rally with a three minute win from Mark Roach/Mark Price (Mazda 323), followed by Carr and Coote. Bell, desperately needing a high placing in this event, worked his way into second place and had his sights on the leader Eadie when the Mazda lost compression and any hopes for a championship win were dead.

The next round was to be in Queensland and conducted, for the first time, over closed shire roads. However, seven days out Queensland Police would not issue a permit for the event – despite signed agreements with the residents – and an appeal to the Premier’s Department on the decision was not upheld.

The Rally of Australia, conducted around Canberra, was then included in the Championship. Pace-noting was permitted and Coote and Carr, vying for the championship, gave it everything they had until Carr’s Starion stopped while crossing a water causeway and valuable time was lost. Coote went on to win by under two minutes with Eadie/Shearer second, Peter Clark/Dave Boddy were third, 16 seconds behind second, and Carr was fourth, 51 seconds further away. Wayne Bell did not compete due to the impending birth of a child, and this gave Peter Clark the opportunity to drive his car.

Four wheel drive cars won all four rounds and all came from the same manufacturer – Mazda – and it was hard to see a two wheel drive car winning the championship again with the coming introduction of the Toyota Celica GT4 and Levin GT (Sprinter), Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and the Mitsubishi Galant GR-4.

So, the conversion to Group A (PRC), and Group N, from the highly modified Group G cars was now complete and the future of rallying involving manufacturers, greater publicity and increased spectator numbers, as well as a round of the World Rally Championship based in Perth, was looking very bright indeed.


This document includes the summary, details of four rounds of the 1988 ARC and is 6 pages in length. 

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