Australian Rally History

by Tom Snooks
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1979 Southern Cross Rally

13 – 17 OCTOBER 1979

Start: Sydney (Amaroo Park) – Finish: Port Macquarie

George Fury/Monty Suffer/Datsun Stanza – winners for the second successive year


Spearheading a magnificent 1-2-3 result for the Datsun Team, George Fury, navigated by long-time navigator, Monty Suffern, took the winner’s laurels for the second consecutive year. It was the third successive win for Datsun in the event, with Rauno Aaltonen winning in 1977.

Fury drove a consistently fast and careful event and had his equally consistent team-mates Ross Dunkerton/Jeff Beaumont and Rauno Aaltonen/Adrian Mortimer to finish immediately behind him. All were in Datsun Stanzas.

But they had a mighty opponent in the Ford Team, comprising Colin Bond, Greg Carr and Bjorn Waldegard in the Escorts, with Geoff Portman running a Repco Reliability Trial Cortina.

The drama and excitement went on well into the fourth and final night, until Waldegard’s Escort broke a differential four stages from the end, shattering Ford’s hope of a win and leaving Colin Bond/John Dawson-Damer’s Escort in fourth.

From the outset, Waldegard showed his worth and Carr was the only driver who could stay with him in the early stages. Then the Fords were threatened from within when Carr’s car retired after a broken axle and then a blown differential. From then on the Ford mechanics worked continuously on the remaining Escorts changing axles and the resultant time losses let the Datsuns stay within reach. Waldegard’s Escort broke an axle on the second night but although not stopped by the incident it let Fury close the gap. Then, on the third night, after another broken axle, Fury took the lead.

However, on the last night Waldegard grabbed the lead back and was leading by a few seconds when the Escort’s differential failed (obviously because of the axle problems) and Fury was the winner again.

Frank Johnson/Steve Halloran’s Mazda RX3 front end failed towards the end and he had to nurse the car to the finish, to be fifth; followed by Nabihiro Tajima/Kioshi Kawamura in their Toyota Levin TE25 – they had a fine run.

The frontrunners had a great battle, overshadowing some good efforts further down the field, with Doug Stewart/Col Parry (Holden Commodore) and Geoff Portman/Ross Runnalls (Ford Cortina) having a real tussle with each other in the big cars, and finishing seventh and ninth; they were split by Gordon Leven/Robbie Wilson in the Datsun H510.

Rounding out the ten was Ron Marks/Chris Heaney after a mighty drive in the Datsun 120Y.

Final Placings

1George FuryMonty SuffernDatsun Stanza20:36:09
2Ross DunkertonJeff BeaumontDatsun Stanza20:49:20
3Rauno AaltonenAdrian MortimerDatsun Stanza21:53:53
4Colin BondJohn Dawson-DamerFord Escort RS180022:05:19
5Frank JohnsonSteve HalloranMazda RX323:18:13
6Nobuhiro TajimaKiyoshi KawamuraToyota Levin TE2523:32:26
7Doug StewartCol ParryHolden Commodore23:41:35
8Gordon LevenRobbie WilsonDatsun H51023:46:30
9Geoff PortmanRoss RunnallsFord Cortina24:05:36
10Ron MarksChris HeaneyDatsun 120Y24:36:41


More information about the 1979 Cross Rally in the document below.

1979 Southern Cross Rally