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Five times Australian Rally Champion, Ross Dunkerton, will go head to head with double ARC champion, Geoff Portman, in this year’s Telstra Rally Australia in the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) Legends Challenge.



They will compete in the Super Special Stage that will be conducted at Gloucester Park on Thursday 26, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 October.

What will make this a special contest is that both Dunkerton and Portman will be driving similar Datsun Stanzas, constructed by Snooks Motorsport, based in Melbourne, under the CAMS Classic Rally Car regulations.

Portman will drive the Stanza that has been rallied throughout the year by Darryn Snooks, and will get a ‘feel’ for the car when he drives it in the Porepunkah Rallysprint, to be conducted by the North Eastern Car Club this Saturday, September 9, over roads in north east Victoria used in past Alpine rallies, of which Portman won six.

At Rally Australia Dunkerton will drive the second Stanza, the one he drove in this year’s Bega Rally.

“Geoff was always the young gun so competing against him again will be very interesting now that the events are so short. Back in our days of competing against each other, tactics really came into it. Now it is about who is the bravest so I guess we will see what eventuates. I’m looking forward very much to the contest,” Dunkerton said recently.

The pair rallied against each other 25 years ago when they competed, together with twice ARC Champion George Fury, in Datsun Stanzas for the Datsun/Nissan Rally Team, under the team managership of Howard Marsden.

Fury won the 1980 ARC, and Dunkerton the Southern Cross International Rally (the last one), whilst Portman waited in the wings.

In 1981 Dunkerton won the first round of the ARC (in Perth) while Portman won the next three and the last round, the Alpine Rally, to take out the Championship.

The pair found themselves head-to-head in Malaysia from 1988 to 1990, with Portman conceding that Dunkerton had the edge over him.

“I have great admiration for Ross for his longevity in the sport, his ability to drive so well and be so successful in a variety of cars and in different countries. I’m keenly looking forward to matching it with him in Perth, and it’s great that we will again be in equal cars. It will be a great contest as well as lots of fun,” Portman said.

The contest between the two champions will be held in Perth on Thursday October 26 at 5.20 and 6.15pm, on Friday 27 at 5.45 and 7pm, with the finals being held on Saturday 28 at 5.45pm and 7pm.

Other ARC Legends competing will include:

  • Greg Carr (1978 Escort Mk2)
  • Murray Coote (1971 Datsun 1200 Coupe)
  • Ross Dunkerton     (1978 Nissan Stanza)
  • Simon Evans (2005 Toyota Corolla Sportivo)
  • Rob Herridge (1990 Subaru Legacy)
  • Peter Lang (1973 Holden Torana XUI)
  • Barry Lowe (1980 Holden Commodore)
  • Geoff Portman (1978 Nissan Stanza)
  • David & Kate Officer (1984 Mitsubishi Starion)
  • Neal Bates & Coral Taylor (1992 Toyota Celica GT4)    
  • Bob Watson (1967 Renault Gordini 1300)

The cars Portman and Dunkerton will use are dressed in period livery of the red, white and blue. They can be differentiated by the headlights

The Stanzas are available for hire from Snooks Motorsport for use in the Classic Rally Challenge, although they may be available for other selected events.

Enquiries can be directed to Darryn Snooks, on 0417 871 918, or from a new website which is being constructed – snooksmotorsport.com.au.

Caption: Geoff Portman with the Snooks Motorsport Stanza he'll drive this weekend.

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