Scotsman Andrew Cowan, driving a Mercedes, has won the 19,000 miles (30,000 kilometres) London-to-Sydney car rally, the toughest ever run.
GV: Traffic in Hunter Valley.
SV/CU: Andrew Cowan's car.
SCU: Cowan (winner) standing by car.
CU: Tony Fowkes (second placed.)
SV/CU: Various cars and competitors. (FIVE SHOTS)
SV: Police motorcycles and Crowd. (TWO SHOTS)
GV: Motorcade on final stretch. (FOUR SHOTS)
GV: Opera House crowds.
GV/CU: Winning car through crowds. (TWO SHOTS)
GV: Winner holding up trophy.
CU: Cowan being interviewed.
REPORTER: "The final competitive stage ended last night in the Hunter Valley, and the cars congregated on the outskirts of the city for this morning's final run to the Opera House. Andrew Cowan finished 22 minutes ahead of another Mercedes, driven by Englishman Tony Fowkes. But Fowkes' second placing is jeopardised by a protest from the third man to finish, Ireland's Paddy Hopkirk. Hopkirk, driving a Citroen CX2400, is protesting about the last-minute deletion of a section of the rally on the Queensland border. Other minor placings could also be changed if stewards impose penalties on drivers who were caught speeding. There was no such problems as the cars set off the final run. They were given a police escort for the whole drive to the Opera House.
Of the 69 vehicles that left London, 40 survived the gruelling trip to take their place in the final motorcade. All the drivers acknowledged the event as the hardest rally they'd ever competed in. And it was Australia's outback which provided the toughest test of cars and drivers. The worst sections were in the Flinders Range and Simpson Desert. Several thousand people packed the ares in front of the Opera House to welcome the elated drivers across the finish line. As the leading cars arrived, crowds pressed forward and held up the official finish several minutes. For the winner Andrew Cowan it was the second London to Sydney marathon win. And how did he think this even compared?
COWAN: "There was no comparison at all. You know, it was 30,000 kilometres this one 19,000 miles, compared with the last one of ten...and very much tougher in Australia.
REPORTER: "It was tougher rally, was it?"
COWAN: "Oh yeah, yeah...ten times as difficult as the other one."
REPORTER: "Where was the hardest section?"
COWAN: "Well, the whole of Australia was difficult the (INDISTINCT) section in South Australia was very difficult the one from (INDISTINCT) Mission to Ayer's Rock was very difficult. There were lots of difficult sections."
REPORTER: "Do you think it was too tough on the drivers altogether?"
COWAN: "Not at all. No. Well, I think we were fortunate in that we had a three-man crew and we were able to cope with the lack of sleep better than the two-men crews. But, you know, we were very, very tired but we could have gone on for another week, I suppose."
Paddy Hopkirk, of Ireland was provisionally placed third in his Citroen CX, more than 41 minutes behind Fowkes's car. Hopkirk lodged two protests against the provisional placings, which put Fowkes above him. Hopkirk appealed against the rally organisers' decision to delete a section from Menindio to Warriwarri Gate on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. He also protested against 'alleged irregularities' in scoring on Fowkes's car.
SPORT: MOTOR RALLYING
REPORTER: GRANT DOWLING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Scotsman Andrew Cowan, driving a Mercedes, has won the 19,000 miles (30,000 kilometres) London-to-Sydney car rally, the toughest ever run. In 30 days on the road, bouncing over some of the roughest terrain in the world, Cowan and his two British team-mates incurred just over 3 1/4 hours in penalties, They were provisionally placed just over 21 minutes ahead of Tony Fowkes in another Mercedes. Grant Dowling of Sydney's Channel 10 reports.