Sunday 24th November 1968
The London-Sydney Marathon Car Rally started at the Crystal Palace racing circuit in London at 2pm. It finished at Warwick Farm (an outer Sydney suburb), on Tuesday, December 17th 1968.
“Until now, the toughest International rally in the world has been the East Africa Safari. If you spoke English, some Afrikaans and perhaps a little Swahili, you could muddle through. In the end, a handful of money waved at some native bystanders would always get you towed out of a bog.
But in the London-Sydney Marathon it will be desirable to have a working knowledge of Urdu, Esperanto, lower Afghanistani dialect and possibly even English.
This is the most International rally ever run. Cars have come from Britain, Australia, America, Soviet Russia, France, Germany….. the drivers include a Russian named Lifhits and an Indian called Ghandi….. the route crosses dozens of borders…..
Organisers can go so far in helping competitors with the problems of country and language, but a lot has to be left with the crews. The comprehensive route guidance notes given to every team months ago, detailed rates of exchange, border procedures, and dozens of other small items of valuable information.
But each team, realising that there was hardly any allowance for time lost through breakdowns or servicing, was still faced with the problem of keeping the cars going.
In a normal rally, car manufacturers and tyre and oil companies like Dunlop and Castrol literally “shadow” the rally route with service vehicles and crews.
But the London-Sydney is so far and so fast, that a complete re-think was needed. Both Castrol and Dunlop have been working for months on a complex network of oil and tyre supplies stretching halfway across the world.
Both companies are, of course, quite used to this. Both have been knee-deep in motor sport for the last 50 – odd years. In fact, it was a Dunlop employee, Harry James, who started motor sport in Australia with a “demonstration” run at Aspendale racecourse in Victoria in 1904.
Castrol is now one of the major sponsors of motor sport in the world. In Australia, their drivers include the famous Geoghegan brothers, the works Nissan team and the BMC works cars.
Overseas, they look after world motor cycle champion, Mike Hailwood, the BMC works rally team of Hopkirk – Makinen – Aaltonen – Fall, and the Ford rally team, as well as Polish driver Sobieslaw Zasada, who last year won the European Championship.
One of their more famous operators is expatriate Australian Paul Hawkins, one of the world’s greatest sports car drivers. Castrol car and bike wins have been chalked up at Daytona, Singapore, Wisconsin, Sebring, Le-Mans, Barcelona and the Isle of Man.
On the other hand, Dunlop has been designing and producing racing tyres for scores of years. For one period of about 15 years up to 1965, Dunlop was the only tyre company supplying racing tyres to World Championship Grand Prix cars.
The choice of racing tyres has become so wide that there are now special tyres for wet and dry racing, for ice and snow, for wet and dry gravel.
The London-Sydney competitors will be able to call on six different types of Dunlop tyre for varying terrain and climate. It is this sort of wide experience in servicing motor sport of all kinds all over the world that makes Castrol and Dunlop, and other major companies like them, so involved in this great Marathon”.
– Daily Telegraph.