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1968 London Sydney Marathon

So confident where CitroŽn Cars Ltd that Bianchi had won the rally that they put a full page advertisement in most of the newspapers of the day. And then, disaster... The race was all but won by Bianchi and Ogier. Not far from the Nowra control point, 156 km (98 miles) from Sydney, with Ogier at the wheel and Bianchi dozing in the front seat, the DS 21 hit a Mini head on in a section of road that was supposed to be closed to the public. The DS 21 was wrecked and Bianchi was badly injured. Paddy Hopkirk arrived on the scene and promptly threw up any chance of winning the rally by turning round and going for help. It was rumoured that the occupants of the Mini were a pair of off-duty policemen who were both `drunk as skunks'. Andrew Cowan went on to win the Marathon in his Hillman Hunter. The Final Reckoning Okay, so Bianchi's DS didn't win and Neyret was placed ninth but this fourteen year old design showed it was a match for anything else on the road. The high pressure hydraulic system which had been so troublesome when the DS was first launched had finally come of age and demonstrated that it was utterly reliable, even under the most extreme conditions imaginable. Since we Brits manage to turn defeat into victory (Charge of the Light Brigade - Dunkirk, etc.) I feel perfectly justified in saying that Lucien Bianchi was the moral winner of this incredibly gruelling rally. It was primarily the size of Bianchi's lead - he had an eleven minute lead over Cowan and only 39 penalty points as opposed to Cowan's 50 - that tells the true story.

The 1968 London-Sydney Marathon was the first and some say the best intercontinental rally. Acclaimed by many motoring enthusiasts as the Rally of the Twentieth Century, it was the brainchild of a team of editorial executives at the Daily Express in London in 1967. Travelling through 11 countries from London, England to France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India then finally travelling across Australia to Sydney. Re-live the excitement of this classic Marathon. Get involved and meet these rally drivers - many were heroes and well known in their own countries. Join with the millions of onlookers who assembled from far and near to watch this extraordinary car race. Read about the planning and organisation of this massive operation. Take a peek - behind the scenes.

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