Wednesday provided our crews with a visit a genuine working cattle station for service and lunch but not before the field had rode the roller coaster 65 km Winneke Goldfield stage. It proved to be a most exhilarating drive for most with crest after crest after crest, requiring a serious amount of commitment to be fast. But for some it was a ride they’d want to get off.
The first stage of the day, SS13 Ironwood Creek of 29 km gave the Callinan’s in their Historic Motorsport build Ford Escort RS1800 their first stage win. 5 seconds down the road though was the other RS1800 of Companc / Volta. Overnight leader Cuthbert / Evans retained the overall lead despite being 1:27 off the pace. Even further off the pace was Travis / Travis 1:41 behind but still retaining 2nd place. Crane / Anderson (Peugeot 504) began their charge up the leader board from 12th with a fine 3rd place on stage.
Bennet /James-Wallace (Ford Mustang) also put in a good showing for 4th on stage, 39 seconds behind Callinan. Similarly Olholm / Trigg (Datsun 260Z) continued their charge from yesterday to move up again, 5th on stage. Calvert-Jones / Hardy were fine 7th in their Porsche 199 Carerra despite at times having only 2 gears to use in a failing gearbox. The other Porsche of Swiss Father and Son of Joseph and Yves Huber were also losing gears and they decided to change it at the first Hale River service.
Crews coming in to service were generally raving about the 65 km Winneke Goldfield stage with it’s relentless series of crests. It was described by most as a roller coaster and by some as Rally of Finland in the desert. The first 6 crews in to the major service following the stage had no repairs to make but unfortunately one crew missing from that bunch was the Callinan’s who were stranded out on the stage with a broken axle. They came to as stop just beyond a road junction where the crews had to turn, luring some crews beyond the intersection thinking the Yellow Ford Escort was parked on the route. In the first 6 was Kate Officer celebrating her Birthday today co-driving for husband Dinta in their Mitsubishi Galant.
The Swan / Gow Volvo 244 suffered a broken rear trailing arm allowing the coil spring to drop out. Swan was forced to walk back up the road to try and find it, knowing that while he had spare trailing arms, the team had no spare coils springs. The Arundel / Healy Ford Mustang pushed the sump guard hard in to the sump forcing the sump pan to distort enough to drop most of the oil, leading to a seized and sorry 351. Further front suspension trouble plagued the other Mustang, the 1965 model of Briggs / Bashford with more damage today. Also suffering suspension damage was the Coates / Coates Leyland P76 who were not able to finish the stage with a badly mangled suspension arm.
Back in the event after an early inversion and exit on day 1 was the Stanza of Wald / Dewhurst, repaired overnight by the Tayell service team that included 5 times Australian Rally Champion Ross Dunkerton. They had a rear wheel overtake them on the transport after Winneke and had to retrieve it from a creek bed. They finished day 3 in 34th place.
Cuthbert / Evans were bak on the pace and were quickest from Travis / Travis. Companc / Volta took 3rd and again Crane / Anderson were 4th.
Crews who had the time were able to enjoy the refreshments on offer at the Hale River Homestead at Old Amabalindum and even have a tour of the original homestead, meat curing room and even the “School of the Air” classroom for the young children who live on the property 110 km east of Alice Springs.
The 2 stages after lunch proved to be a lot wetter in places than the morning stages and again some crews suffered some setbacks. Ward / Fraser in the Tayell Corolla arrived back at Hale River homestead with bent front suspension, as did Ted and Joel Perkins in their Lotus Cortina.
The biggest drama in terms of the lead was when the Cuthbert / Evans apparently got off course losing them around 10 minutes, handing the lead to Travis / Travis. Cuthbert / Evans dropped from 1st to 3rd, 6 minutes behind Companc but 6 minutes in front of Crane / Anderson who moved up from 12th yesterday.