Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1972 Southern Cross Rally

4 – 8 OCTOBER 1972


Andrew Cowan/John Bryson in the Mitsubishi Galant GS – from the cover of the 1973 regulations booklet


The lead was battled for throughout the four nights of the 3200 kilometre event by the London to Sydney Marathon winner Andrew Cowan (with John Bryson) in a Mitsubishi Galant 1600 sedan, and his arch-rival Rauno Aaltonen from Finland, a former Monte Carlo winner and European rally champion, in a Datsun 240Z. He was navigated by Steve Halloran. The latter pair led for the first 725 kilometres, only to surrender the lead to Cowan when a puncture in a very muddy section on the second night cost them 5 minutes.

‘Supporting players’ were Doug Chivas/Peter Meyer in another Galant 1600 sedan (3rd), and East African Safari winner Edgar Herrmann with Mike Mitchell in a Datsun 180B SSS (4th). Hermann gradually lost ground as the event unfolded, consistently losing considerably more points than both Cowan and Aaltonen and he wasn’t happy with the car’s handling, although it lacked nothing in servicing but it was too heavy for the power-plant. 88

Arthur Jackson, with Peter Godden, drove his Datsun 1600 to be 5th outright and the first privateer home. Unsponsored, he was equal 8th on the first night, 6th after the second and 5th on both the third and last nights. A wonderful drive. Charlie Lund put in a great effort also. With Nigel Collier in his Mazda RX3 he was 16th after the first night and then gradually worked his way up to finish 6th outright.

Galant 1700 GTO coupes were seen in Australia for the first time in the hands of Barry Ferguson/Gary Connelly, and Doug Stewart/Dave Johnson, but these were not as fast as the lighter sedans and did not handle as well. Ferguson (twice winner of the event) was running a comfortable fourth until into the second night he rolled the car and retired. Stewart left the road on the first night and knocked over a few small trees and lost time recovering.

A Renault R12 Gordini, crewed by Bob Watson and Jeff Beaumont retired on the third night with gearbox failure, and Norm Bolitho suffered a severe setback when his well-prepared Volvo was gutted completely by fire – the crew had no time to salvage anything from the car.

The competition was followed by long post-event vehicle eligibility protests and counter-protest by Mitsubishi and Nissan and in the end only one minor protest was upheld (see Highlights below).

Crews were required to report to at least 25% of main controls in each division to be eligible for general classification and awards. The late time limit was reduced from 180 minutes in 1971 to 100 minutes for 1972. For the first time a maximum number of points could be lost on a section – 300.

Final Placings

1Andrew CowanJohn BrysonMitsubishi Galant90 points
2Rauno AaltonenSteve HalloranDatsun 240Z114
3Doug ChivasPeter MeyerMitsubishi Galant124
4Edgar HermannMike MitchellDatsun 180B158
5Arthur JacksonPeter GoddenDatsun 1600216
6Charlie LundNigel CollierMazda RX3235
7Peter RobertsonBrian AlleryFord Escort TC280
8Ed MulliganJohn TrumpmanisMazda Capella309
9Robert JacksonGraham RoserHolden Torana XU1389
10*Helmet GoetzPeter McFalzeanDatsun 1600 SSS567

*another record shows 10th as being taken by Col Parry/Eric Vigar in a Torana XU1

Full information about the 1972 Southern Cross Rally in the document below.

1972 Southern Cross Rally