Bathurst goes International
The 1977 Hardie-Ferodo was a great event if only for the degree of international participation. Drivers such as Jacki Ickx, Jack Brabham, Vern Schuppan, Leo Leonard, John Fitzpatrick, Johnnie Rutherford, Janet Guthrie, Henri Pescarolo, Gerry Marshal and Basil Van Rooyan added a strong character to the race. No less than 11 Falcons entered, the biggest Ford entry since 1971.
was teamed with Jacki Ickx, Colin Bond with Alan Hamilton, John Goss with Henri Pescarolo, Jack and Geoff Brabham were together in the second Goss car, Jim Richards with Rod Coppins, Ron Dickson with Fred Gibson, Dick Johnson
with Vern Schuppan, Murray Carter with Bob Stevens, Rusty French with Leo Leonard in a new car, Rod Donovan and Ron Lindau, the two West Australian Kings of Wanneroo Park's "Street Class" races, also in a car new to production touring and finally, Jim Keogh was teamed with Graeme Ritter.
Against this were 19 Torana’s, a mixture of hatchback and four-door models, headed by the Marlboro-Holden Dealer cars led by John Harvey, plus a three-car entry from Bill Patterson Racing with Peter Brock their No 1 driver. There was good back-up in the other Torana teams. For the first time the cars were permitted to use two-way radios to communicate with their pit crews.
Practice saw Peter Brock
on pole position with a time of 2min 24.9sec, one-tenth better than Moffat's time in 1976. Colin Bond was next fastest with a 2min 26.4sec to take the other position on the front row of the grid. Moffat started. from position 4. The next best Falcon was that of Jim Richards who unobtrusively earned sixth spot.
The race was dominated by Moffat, Bond, Ickx and Hamilton, the two Falcon’s crossing the line in a classic 1-2 formation, finishing only inches apart after instructions were given to the cars by Carroll Smith to put on a grandstand finish. The two cars did the last lap side by side in one of the most stirring moments witnessed at Bathurst (click here
Of the other Falcons, only two were classed as finishers, the Dickson/Gibson car being credited with 11th outright after an over-rev in the opening laps did enough damage to the engine to rob the car of a lot of power, and the Brabham/Brabham Falcon which was racing very strongly for most of the race, actually being third outright (behind Moffat and Bond) for some time, was credited with 16th outright.
The others suffered from various maladies, Murray Carter for example, blowing an engine after 19 laps. His crew worked for a couple of hours to install a new engine, and after 19 further laps that one blew as well! The Torana challenge for this race appeared to be, and was, very strong. But the Moffat cars simply could not be challenged on the day. They ran faultlessly at a very fast pace, the only untoward happening being a tyre
change on Moffat's car in the closing laps. It was the perfect conclusion to 10 years of racing Falcons.