The 4th day of the 6 day Classic Outback Trial in the Northern Territory was thrown in to turmoil on Wednesday morning when 15 cars became bogged in a sandy section of road south east of Rainbow Valley, about 100 km from Alice Springs.
The leading cars made it through with ease but were thankful not to be later in the running order.
Lead car driver Andrew Travis from Bathurst remarked at the end of the stage: “That was very sandy, lots of sand dunes, it’s like the Australian Safari in there.” He added that “After 4 of 5 cars you might find the sand churns up.” Churned up it was, halting the field for up to 2 hours.
The spirit of rallying came to the fore when the bogged crews helped push each other out with the un-bogged crews returning to push out their fellow competitors until all but 2 could get on their way, while others directed following cars around the boggy sections.
The remaining 2 cars – a Commodore of N.T. driver John Bruinsma and a Russian built Lada Niva of veteran Victorian rally driver Danny Murphy were so badly bogged that they had to be towed out by a competitor following the field in the Cross Country Category. It was N.T. competitor Stephen Riley in a Holden Commodore V8 Cross Country spec Ute, fresh for a run in the Finke Desert Race that lent a hand, getting himself briefly bogged in the process.
With so many cars stranded for up to 2 hours, the organizers were forced to cancel one afternoon stage to avoid later crews running in the dark. Ultimately the organizers have also decided to cancel the stage where the crews were bogged to the relief of the bogged crews who would have scored massive time penalties.