“I’m so glad we’ve done this, this is amazing.” An ebullient Matt Lee, 2011 Australian Rally co-driver champion emerged from his Holden Commodore at the major service break this afternoon raving about the day’s stages. There was a similar theme through the service park, a 40 minute break for crews on the road between Cobar and the overnight stop in Ivanhoe. Regardless of any problems they may be nursing to day’s end, drivers especially were singing the praises of the long stages today.
There was a sensation in the event before lunch when the leading Datsun 200B of Neil Cuthbert and Ross Runnalls went over on its side while slowly making a U-turn to check an instruction. Nobody was more surprised than Neil to see the horizon tilt when he went for the handbrake to help with the turn. Fortunately there was little damage to car and none to the crew but the real damage was the 40 minutes it took them to be right the car and resume the stage. It dropped them 10 places and they now find themselves with nearly 43 minutes to make up on Andrew and David Travis back in the lead after losing it on day 2 on the run in to Cobar from Condobolin.
On the same stage, the category leading Mercedes of Pat and Brad Cole destroyed a gearbox when a fist sized hole was torn in the alloy housing. They were able to find one gear, fourth, and drove the 40 km to stage end and a 10 minute service point in that gear. The crew attempted to swap the gearbox for a spare on the side of the road but, as they so, complications arose and the service crew have taken the car back to Cobar to repair it and intend to be back at Ivanhoe in time for the restart at Ivanhoe on Wednesday morning. That has moved the Datsun 240Z of Pickering/Boddy in to the lead in their category.
David and Sarah Rayner form the UK have had to nurse their Ford Capri RS2600 in to the major service break with a soft brake pedal and an alternator bolt sheared off. The service crew bled the brakes and removed the radiator to access the sheared bolt and they were on their way for the afternoon stages. Also having more troubles were the Ward/Pollock Corolla who some panel damage and a broken side window after running wide and collecting some of the scenery. Again, their service crew were able to make repairs so they can start day 4.
Charlie Gardiner’s Mazda RX-7 had the front struts repaired overnight and were able to re-join the event after missing day 2. They have arranged for better parts (front struts) to be flown in to Broken Hill for their arrival there on Wednesday afternoon. However, that was nearly in vain as they sheared the outlet off their fuel tank early in the day and came to a spluttering stop in stage. When the field had passed through the service crew was able to get in and make repairs and they made it in to Ivanhoe.
With Cuthbert on his side, the Travis Datsun 1600 had a clean run at the top of the leader board, winning each stage and won the day by just over 5 minutes from Sawyer/Sawyer, also in a Datsun 1600. The Sawyers have moved up to 7th as a result. The Travis’s have a nice little 17 minute lead over Swan/Franklin’s silver Holden Commodore, beating them by 11 minutes on the day. 3rd place specialist in the classic outback trial Andy Crane with Dave Anderson (Peugeot 504) are just 3 minutes back and have a 3 minute lead over Ashton/Nixon in 4th. Aston was able to overtake his category leader Dina and Kate Officer with some good driving in a car giving little trouble and thanks to a length of fencing wire that became hooked up under the Officer Galant and wrapped around the handbrake cable, picking it up when Dinta ran wide on a corner.
All cars underwent a now daily routine of checking and maintenance in the main street of Ivanhoe at days end before the crews retired for the night in tents at the caravan park. Crews travelled 442 km today and did not pass through any towns and passed by only a handful of occupied homesteads between Cobar and Ivanhoe.
Starting again at 8 am in Ivanhoe, the field will move north west to Broken Hill travelling more than 460 kilometres in the day. They will pass through but 1 town, Menindee, for a Service and lunch stop. The landscape will change after service and trees will disappear from the horizon. Crews will know they are in the outback on day 4 of the Classic Outback Trial 2014.
Quote of the day: “That last 50 k Stage? I just want to go back and do that again, every day!” Matt Lee, car 17.
Leaders in to Ivanhoe are:
Category 1: Historic Rally Cars: Ashton/Nixon (Galant)
Category 2: Classic Cars to 1982: Pickering/Boddy (Datsun 240Z)
Category 3: Club Cars (to 1989): Crane/Anderson (Peugeot 504)
Category 3A Early PRC (to 1986): Travis/Travis (Datsun 1600)
Category 3B: Modern PRC (1987-1988): Swan/Franklin (Holden Commodore VL)
Outright: 1-Travis/Travis (Datsun 1600), 2- Swan/Franklin (Holden Commodore VL), 3- Crane/Anderson (Peugeot 504)
Photos Credits: Ian Smith.