Long time rallyist Bruce Shepherd fronts a family team heading to Alice Springs for their first COT. Let’s hear what they’ve been doing to get ready…
What car will you be running in the 2016 COT?
We are running a 1985 Peugeot 505 GTi. My son, Simon, bought this car as his daily driver 10 years ago before we put a cage in it in 2008. Since then the car has done three BPs, an Alpine, the 2010 Victorian Rally Championship, the 2015 State Bank Rerun and many navigational events. Development wise it has evolved over time but it has been lightened, has a modified 2.2L engine, Quaife diff, Volvo brakes and Jamie Drummond suspension.
Who will be in your team?
My team is a family affair as we all enjoy rallying together – we don’t do fishing. My sons, daughter and daughter in law are all coming along. I am co-driving, with my son, Tim, driving. As a team we have done many events on tarmac and gravel, with some highlights being Targa Tasmania and Graham Wallis’ “Rerun” events.
If you/re new to the COT, what has attracted you to the event?
I am currently preparing the ex-Harper Mustang for Michael Arundel and as he has been a stalwart in the COT’s, he has encouraged me to compete. Phil Bernadou can be persuasive as well.
What are your expecting from the 2016 COT?
We are hoping to have a trouble free run (is there such a thing?) and finish. Obviously we’d like to finish strongly and as high up the field as we can. The 505 should be strong and compliant over the rough stuff which we hope will compensate for any short comings in performance.
What is/was your favourite rally car?
As a mechanic for the Renault Australia Rally Team in the early seventies I was smitten by the looks and performance of the Datsun Z cars. They have a wonderful engine note, a classic sports car shape and were spectacular to watch through the bush with the likes of Ross Dunkerton driving. I bought an early 1969 example in 1990 and have slowly built it up into a Tarmac rally car complete with 3l engine and triple webers. I have done many events in it over the years including Targa Tasmania, Targa High Country, Classic Adelaide, Rally Tasmania, Mt Buller Sprint and club sprints.
What is your most memorable rallying moment?
Being part of the Renault Team when Bob Watson won the 1970 Australian Championship and helping him win the Don Capasco in a Renault Alpine were both highlights. These days I really enjoy endurance events such as the BP where it is an equal measure of car preparation, driving ability and navigation.
What will you be doing to get ready for the 2016 COT?
I am incredibly busy for someone who is meant to be retired! I have the Mustang and our Peugeot to prepare for the CoT. The Mustang is good to go, albeit for the usual fettling. There is a new engine to be dropped into the 505, as well as new seats and a hydraulic hand brake to be fitted. I am trying to have everything complete in good time for testing. I also have a 1969 Mustang Coupe I am preparing for the Paris to Peking and a second Datsun 240z tarmac car that I am working on for Robin Lowe.
You do sound a bit busy for a retired bloke Bruce! Hope you’ve found time for the 505… Looking forward to seeing you and the family in Alice Springs!