competitor guidance, News

A day-by-day look at the COT16 course

The course for the 2016 Classic Outback Trial has been set. Let’s walk through the event and see what’s in store each day.

Day 1

A map of Central Australia with an indication of the COT 16 route shown.

The COT16 course… (Click for a readable version!)

The old saying “The rally is never won on the first day” will ring true in 2016. The first day will put you, the competitors, straight into the deep end! No leading you by the hand!

After a ceremonial start at the Alice Springs Convention Centre at Lasseters you’ll head south. You’ll have three station stages before a lunch and service break at the Alice Springs Off Road Club. After two stages at the Off Road Club we head home, with two stages on the way.

Day 1 comprises seven special stages totaling 154 km competitive and 161 km transport, that’s nearly 50% competition!  It’s a good introduction too – the Day 1 roads and tracks cover just about every surface and condition that the following 5 days have to offer.

a pic of the service facilities at the Off Road Club.

Great service and lunch facilities at the Off Road Club.

Day 2

Day 2 takes us north.

To get you started you have a 53 km first stage on some sensational station tracks, followed by the only closed public road in the event. This public road stage needs to be approached with care- it’s wide with blind crests and a mixture of road surfaces. Then a lunch and service break at Gemtree will be most welcome! After lunch there are three further fun station stages before we head back down the Stuart highway to Alice Springs.

So, five stages on Day 2 – 184 km competitive with 240 km transport.

Day 3

Day 3 takes us north east.

You’ll start the day with a 30 km station stage to warm up, then a challenging 65 km station stage – challenging because of the road and the views! We have a short 8 km stage to include a spectator point and then the first of two service/lunch breaks at the amazing Hale River Homestead at Old Ambalindum.

The Old Amablindum homestead

Crews will have two breaks at the Hale River Homestead on day 3.

The team at Hale River Homestead will be making every effort to welcome us… including first class catering and REAL coffee for lunch!

After two challenging station stages you’ll come back to Old Ambalindum for another service. Then one more stage and you’re on the way home. On this day even the transport home through the East MacDonnell Ranges is a stunner.

Day 3’s five stages total 163 km.

Day 4

Day 4 is going to be the tough one. Day 4 heads way down south and covers nearly 500 km, of which some 44% is competitive.

You’ll have short (25 km) stage close to Alice on the way out of town and then you’ll head to two fast station stages. After a service break you’ll head even further south to two very tough stages, with lunch at the Maryvale Station Store in between them.

It's spectacular, but very rugged down south...

It’s spectacular, but very rugged down south…

In past COT events we have always included a “horror” stage or two and today is the day!

Former Australian Rally Champion Frank Kilfoyle is quoted as saying “There are no rough roads just rough drivers”. Keep this in mind as you approach these stages… It’s a very special and very rugged part of the world – you’d come here if you wanted to road test a lunar lander.

One of these stages only has 25 instructions – they are however, about rocky outcrops, creek and river crossings and other nasty dangers. This is a stage where reading the road and driving with some caution should get competitors through successfully.

Another service before the final stage of the day – 40 km of good station tracks. Then home up the Stuart Highway.

Day 5

Day 5 is the best day of the event. So, make sure you don’t do anything silly on the prior 4 days or you will miss it!

We start the day with the longest stage of the event, some 122 km of amazing station tracks in the East MacDonnell Ranges. Then, after a short 16 km stage you’ll have a lunch and service break at Ross River. After lunch we have three challenging station stages before heading back to Lasseters.

A gravel station track with the MacDonnell Ranges in the bakgound.

Day 5 has some of tha best roads on the event….

So, Day 5 comprises 5 special stages with 57% competitive and a total of 365 km! Crews will be back to Lasseters in the early afternoon for a well-deserved rest!

Day 6

Had enough yet?

Although a short day it’s no knock over… Day 6 will cover 264 km with 49% competitive – it could be the sting in the tail. And if you’re needing to put in a blinder to get onto the podium there’s opportunity…

The first stage brought the whole 1968 London to Sydney marathon to a stop – hopefully we will reduce the chance of that! This 65 km stage travels through some stunning scenery – it will be a shame that competitors can’t stop to take it in!

Station tracks in the MacDonnell Ranges

There’s plenty to keep you busy on Day 6…

Then there are two more 25 km station stages before the traditional “Fat Lady” at the Finke start/finish area ends the days stages.

Then, the finish ramp, photos, finishers medallions and the bubbly awaits!


We’re really pleased with the route has come together… you’ll get a range of experiences, conditions and challenges and they’ll build to a crescendo as the week progresses.

The winners will all have well and truly earned their trophies and our congratulations.