Questions with...

Questions with: Philip Bernadou

Lets meet COT16 Event Director, Philip Bernadou, and get his thoughts as his fifth Classic Outback Trial is just three months away…

Whats your usual role on the COT? What do you do? What do you drive out there? 

Philip Bernadou, at COT 2014 Welcome Function

Philip Bernadou, at COT 2014 Welcome Function

I am the Event Director, and, with the very able assistance of Tom Snooks, Steve Hollowood and Steuart Snooks, I am pretty much responsible for the total running of the event. Our wheels for setting the course has been a rental 4WD, nothing exotic.

Who will be traveling with you? What’s your history as a team? 
In 2008 Bob Watson organised the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial from Alice Springs to the Gold Coast which was to coincide with the last two days of the World Rally event at Tweed Heads. Unfortunately at the last minute the WRC was moved to New Zealand. We did run the Red Centre event and it was a great result. The WRC was to be conducted the following year and it was suggested by Bob Watson and the organizing team that it was my turn to carry the losses!

Red Centre to Gold Coast organisers...

The Red Centre to Gold Coast organisers… L2R Bob Watson, Philip Bernadou, Michael Browning, Phil Rainer and Tom Snooks

The first COT was conducted in 2009 from Forbes to Tweed Heads over 7 days and on the day ran over 4 of the WRC stages. Since then we have run the event in 2010, 2012 and 2014. I was ably assisted with the first 3 COTs by Tom Snooks and Phil Rainer. Steve joined the organising team in 2012 having been a road official on all the other events. Steve assists me with setting the course, running the website and our social media, and various other roles.

You’ve been an official on the COT before… what has brought you back? 
What brings me back? Certainly not the financial side! I love finding the properties, the route and meeting the farmers. We have formed some great friendships and meet some of the finest people in this vast land. The other main reason for being involved is the camaraderie that the event produces. The fact that the majority of competitors keep coming back means that there is a need for a long distance event.

Talking with a station owner in the leadup to COT16

Talking with a station owner in the lead up to COT16.

What are your expecting from the 2016 COT? 
This will be the biggest and best COT to date. With 5 or 6 international entries and a host of family and friends attending, and with the spectacular scenery that the Red Centre has to offer it should be a great adventure for all. I am looking forward to the presentation function to see that the majority of the entrants have finished and that they all arrived back safely.

Have you been to Alice Springs before?
My first trip to the Alice was in 1978 and since then many times since in setting the course for the Mobil One Round Australia Trial in 1995. It has, without doubt, some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia.

Bernadou and Rainer competing in the late 70s

Bernadou and Rainer competing in the late 70s

Are you planning a bit of a Red Centre holiday as part of your rally? Will family or friends be joining you?
Our son and his family are arriving from Edmonton Canada for the event. Our daughter-in-law was an exchange student in Alice Springs for 12 months so she is looking forward to many reunions. Our son is a graphic designer and is responsible for all the COT posters, logos and the layout of the 2014 book. Our daughter and her family will also be joining us so it will be a great family reunion. We will be spending a few quiet days after the event with them before heading back to Melbourne and start the preparation for the 2018 event.

What is your rallying and officiating background? 
I first started rallying in 1970 and later contested Victorian events in a Datsun 1600 with Phil Rainer. We organised the Young Motorists 500 rallies around Gippsland in the mid 70s. In the mid 80s I went circuit racing – I kept much cleaner!

The Winton Six Hour, in 1989

The Winton Six Hour, in 1989

What is your most memorable COT moment – what sticks in your mind?
In 2012 after notifying everyone that this would be the last event that I would run, the competitors held a meeting at the Renmark at the hotel and the overwhelming support convinced me to keep going.

What is/was your favorite rally car? 
The ex-London to Sydney Marathon Porsche 911. It was so much fun to drive, both on dirt and as a circuit car.

Three-wheeling in the ex London to Sydney Porsche.

Three-wheeling in the ex London to Sydney Porsche.

What is your most memorable rallying moment?
The 21 days of the 1995 Mobil 1 Round Australia

What will you be doing to get ready for the 2016 COT?
Road book check survey at the end of March, CAMS course check at the end of end April apart from all the day to day business organising the freight for the internationals, etc, etc…

Where are you, and what are you doing as you answer these questions?
Sitting in my office thinking of all the issues still to be organised!

Thanks boss! We’re all certainly looking forward to COT16 in Alice Springs… and you’re right, it will be the best one yet!


Winton 24 hour race, 1989

Winning the Winton 24 hour race, 1989