competitor guidance, News

A guide to the Classic Outback Trial…

…and why you should enter!

The Classic Outback Trial, a gravel daylight Special Stage rally for Classic and “Allcomers” rally cars will be held in Central Western Region of New South Wales.  During its 7 days of competition it will overnight at the regional cities of Parkes, Orange and Bathurst.

So… What is the Classic Outback Trial?

The Classic Outback Trial (COT) is a gravel, daylight Special Stage rally, which sees up to 50 Historic, Classic and Contemporary rally cars compete over 700 kilometres of closed stages, over 7 consecutive days.

The COT is subject to receiving approval by the NSW Police and the relevant Shire Councils and Forestry Departments and is conducted under the rules and regulations of Motorsport Australia (formerly CAMS).

All competition for the COT is held during daylight hours.  There is no night time competition.

When and where will it be held?

COT2020 will start on Sunday 7 March 2021 in Parkes NSW.  After two days it will move to Orange for a further two days before spending the next three days in and around Bathurst, finishing there on Saturday 13 March 2021.

Importantly, the areas where the event is being held have not been impacted by the bushfires in summer 2019/2020.

Mitsubishi Magna competing in COT Modern in 2018.

Why are you seeing this?

All rallies depend on entries.  We want your entry! So we need to tell you a bit about the COT.

The COT is not just an outback trial for historic and classic cars – it’s also a modern, special stage rally which has been designed for modern 2WD and 4WD rally cars (particularly Production Rally Cars), running in a “Allcomers” Category. Allcomers are catered for in their own general classification, but will run in the outright running order each day.

The COT caters for those who want an old-fashioned rally experience, but with no night time competition (no need for driving lights) and plenty of sleep each night.  No difficult parcs ferme or A to A timing.  You will experience a relaxed atmosphere, but serious competition, great camaraderie and very friendly marshals. 

We want to see your car brought back to life and run in an event which you will thoroughly enjoy and enjoy safely.  That’s why we will have RallySafe tracking units fitted to all cars and we will be providing motor sport experienced Medical Intervention Teams for those times when something does go wrong.

But the biggest reason of all, is that this is likely to be the final Classic Outback Trial. If you have a hankering to be involved, don’t put it off…

What is the Classic Outback Trial History?

The first COTs were held in Regional NSW in 2009 and 2010 and since then it then has been held every two years.  In 2012 and 2014 the COT was centred in NSW, finishing on the Murray River in Renmark. In 2016 and 2018 the event was based in Alice Springs. 

Competitor survey and feedback shows competitors want to see a six-plus day rally – so that’s what we are going to provide for you! 

You will also get special stages that are generally significantly longer than championship stage rallies, not too many special stages per day, easy to get to service locations with ample service periods and comfortable accommodations at night.

A big feedback point was to make access to the event easier for the majority of Australian rally enthusiasts. The 2021 event will be based around the major towns of Parkes, Orange and Bathurst in Central Western NSW.

Previous events have seen Australian Rally Champions such as Ross Dunkerton and David (Dinta) Officer compete. 

In 2016 and 2018 International crews from Argentina, Belgium, New Zealand and Germany entered the Classic Outback Trial.  With the event now delayed to early 2021, we may see entries from rally teams from the UK and possibly from New Zealand as well.

But don’t let us tell all the stories, read the happy competitors’ accounts!

For the history books, the 2009 event was won by Terry Naish and Ross Runnalls (Datsun 1600). In 2010 and 2014, Andrew and David Travis visited the top of the Podium in another Datsun 1600, as they did also in 2016 and 2018 (both latter occasions whilst driving a Nissan Gazelle V6). 2012 was Matt Swan and Paul Franklin’s turn in their Holden Commodore VL. Check out the COT Honour Board.

What cars are eligible for the Classic Outback Trial?

There are three main categories of eligible cars:

  • 2WD Classic or Historic Rally cars *
  • “Allcomers” Rally cars *
  • A regularity event over the same route, which is open to “almost anything goes”
  • A “tag along” event is planned for 4WD SUVs and those who just want to be part of this exciting event.

* Cars are required to be in accordance with Motorsport Australia (formerly CAMS) regulations

So what’s the Classic Outback Trial all about?

For a start, it’s a blind rally – no pace notes are permitted.

There is usually 120 kilometres of competitive Special Stages each day – some a bit more, some a bit less. There is planned to be 5 Special Stages per day.

The COT starts on Parkes on 6 March with a prologue/shakedown run and a Welcome Function.

The Start of the action is on Sunday 7 March at 09:00 am and stages loop around Parkes before returning early afternoon. This is followed by another day of competition on Monday around Parkes before the event and the Rally Headquarters moves to Orange, about 100 km east, on Tuesday.

Wednesday sees the event run in and around and back to Orange before moving further east to Bathurst for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The COT finishes early on Saturday afternoon at Bathurst. A Podium Ceremony and an evening Presentation Function follow. It’s all over on Saturday which gives all the crews a whole day to return home on Sunday before the start of the working week.

Stop Press… undercover service areas (with concrete floors!) have been established in Orange and Bathurst.

Who are the Organisers of the Classic Outback Trial?

The COT is organised by a dedicated team of personnel, all of whom have proven experience in managing and producing high quality motor sport events which are acclaimed both within Australia and throughout the World.

The Management Team is headed by Philip Bernadou – who takes the title of Event Director and Deputy Clerk of Course.

The Clerk of the Course is the man who steers the ship through the 7 days.  That is the highly experienced and well-credentialed Tom Snooks.

The person who sets the course needs to understand what it is all about.  Who better to do this for the COT than a former Australian Rally Champion? Again this year, that person is David (Dinta) Officer and he takes on the role of Assistant Clerk of Course.

The COT requires 70 expert motorsport officials to be able to run it to the high standard desired.

All cars will be fitted with RallySafe, the world’s most advanced rally management system. The same the World Rally Championship use.  RallySafe is an all-in-one advanced safety, timing and tracking system monitored by a Rally Control.

Comprehensive medical and incident response teams will be available throughout the event.

Further information

For further information or any enquiries about the Classic Outback Trial contact:

Philip Bernadou
Classic Outback Trial
1/533 Whitehorse Road
Surrey Hills Vic 3125

Telephone +61 (0)3 9836 9911