Tue 20 Sep 2022

WRC 50: New Zealand 1977 - Three against one

As the WRC returns to Repco Rally New Zealand (29 September - 2 October), we look back on a memorable edition of this legendary event - as featured in 'WRC 50, The Story of the World Rally Championship 1973-2022'.

It was a long story and Ari Vatanen would have won if he had not lost a total of half-an-hour as the result of four accidents. Instead, the winner was Fulvio Bacchelli, who had somehow kept his Fiat 131 ahead of the adventurous Escort all the way to the finish line in Auckland. 

However, its engine was so sick that, had there been just a few more kilometres, he would probably not have made it. Vatanen came home in second place despite his time losses. The Fiats of Markku Alén and Simo Lampinen were third and fourth.

It was now level pegging between Ford and Fiat and therefore both teams went to New Zealand, Fiat with three cars and Ford with just one Escort capable of winning. 

This event turned out to be something of a marathon, with sixty-nine special stages totalling more than 2,100 km and twenty-four hours of stage driving in a 3,800 km rally that lasted seven days and five nights.

This story is an excerpt from 'WRC 50, The Story of the World Rally Championship 1973-2022', written by Markus Stier. Purchase your copy here.

Cover Photo: © McKlein

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