Such is its reputation as a lemon that it was startling to spot a story in Racing Car News about a Leyland P76 that actually won an Australian rally.
In March 1975 Adelaide driver Tom Barr-Smith, with navigator Ron Hunt telling him where to go, won the Central Yorke 500 Rally. This was the opening round of the SA Rally Championship, so an event of some consequence.
The rally took place over the sandy bush tracks around the Yorke Peninsula.

Luck played a part in the victory. State champion Stewart McLeod was comfortably ahead in his Datsun when his distributor malfunctioned on the final stage and he was forced to stop for repairs.
This enabled Barr-Smith and the P76 to pass and win by one point.

The next three places were also filled by muscle cars: Dieter Thumm in a Torana XU-1, Trevor Davey in a Monaro 350 and Justin Hanna in another XU-1.
P76s have done pretty well in classic rallies in more recent times but this is the first we’ve heard of one winning an event outright in its day. The P76’s biggest motorsport claim-to-fame was Evan Green and John Bryson’s ‘Targa Florio’ stage victory in the 1974 World Cup Rally, hence the name of P76 limited edition V8 model.

By the way, the Leyland wasn’t the biggest machine competing at the Central Yorke. Winner of the Junior section was Chris Jarrett in a massive Valiant Ranger.


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