Finland's Rauno Aaltonen has led a team of Datsun cars into the first three places in the 12th annual Southern Cross Rally -- a tough 2,760 kilometre (1740 mile) trial over some of the worst tracks in Australia.
SV Datsun car No.16 on dirt track during Southern Cross car rally
SV Ford Escort driving through forest stage in dust
SV Car No.8 Escort, Greg Carr (Australia) rounding bend
SV Car No. 3 Rauno Aaltonen (Datsun) eventual winner through dust cloud
MV Car No.4 Datsun (Harry Kallstrom, eventual second place) through dust cloud
CU Car No. 4 at night driving through ford
MV Car No. 10 being pushed through ford by spectators
CU No. 3 stopping and having wheel checked with driver talking to officials then driving off
MV Car No. 3 followed by cars No. 4 and No. 6 driving through dust at night
SPORT: MOTOR RACING
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Background: Finland's Rauno Aaltonen has led a team of Datsun cars into the first three places in the 12th annual Southern Cross Rally -- a tough 2,760 kilometre (1740 mile) trial over some of the worst tracks in Australia. Overseas drivers -- from Finland, Sweden, Japan, Kenya and New Zealand filled 10 of the first 19 places in the event.
SYNOPSIS: The four-day trial through mountain bush tracks between Sydney and Port MacQuarie 400 kilometres (250 miles) took a heavy toll -- only 19 cars finished, out of a total of 68 entries. The worst hazard was dust -- choking clouds of it, raised from bush roads as the cars raced through the outback.
This is the sort of style that won the rally for Rauno Aaltonen, popularly known in racing circles as 'the Flying Finn'. Second-placed Harry kallstrom of Sweden shared his team-mate's concern about the choking dust, which made visibility poor. Kallstrom finished only six and a half minutes behind the winner, and night driving is his forte.
Not all the cars survived the race -- especially the wet parts, which drowned many engines and made restarting impossible. That was where spectators had to lend a hand. But rally winner Aaltonen has thousands of miles behind him -- driving on the worst roads imaginable. That is the sort of experience that pays off on trials like the Southern Cross -- well known for being one of the world's most tiring and car-breaking events. The final blow to drivers pitting themselves against natural obstacles was environmentalists -- who were responsible for extra rocks and logs strewn across tracks in the state forest -- making conditions even more hazardous.