In a very significant turn of fortunes, the dice has rolled the wrong way for several fancied Classic Outback Trial competitors – on the very first day of competition.
Day one of seven hard and fast days of special stage rallying has seen the immaculate Nissan Navara of Queensland Tony Quinn and John Doble head the time sheets in the Allcomers competition.
Hot on their heels, and leading the Classic competition by a massive three minutes and 20 seconds, is four time Classic Outback Trial winner, David and Andrew Travis, in their Nissan Gazelle V6. The extra 100 horsepower the Travis team was boasting about is obviously being put to good use!
The three plus minute margin is to Darkie Barr-Smith and Rob Hunt in a South African built Ford Perana, a Ford Capri body utilizing a 302 cubic inch V8 engine for power. Darkie has been knocking at the door of top places in endurance rallies for several years and he showed his mettle on today’s stages, to build a comfortable 4 minute margin to third placed Matt Swan and Paul Franklin, using the 6 cylinder Commodore VL in which they won the 2012 Classic Outback Trial.
In a surprise fourth place is Neil Schey and Scott Middleton in a Forest Rally spec Ford Escort RS1800 who sits a further minute back from Swan. Another surprise package is the Triumph Stag V8 of Tony Jordan and Richard Davidson.
The tales of woes and troubles started early on day one. While the Travis crew showed a clean pair of heals to the field, some of the favourites struck trouble.
Adam Kaplan and Alisha Penny had the clutch of their Mazda RX7 fall apart mid stage. John Rawson and son Ashley McBain struck radiator issues in their Tayell Automotive Datsun Stanza and were last seen on a tow rope heading back to the major service at Parkes. Both crews look like they will start again on Day two.
Michael Valantine, who has suffered some cruel luck in previous Classic Outback Trials, did some overdriving and needed a tow back to the road by a friendly farmer. He will be back in earnest tomorrow on day two.
Other unlucky stories to come out today was the Falcon XD of John Cooper and Ross Warner, who disintegrated two left hand wheels on the same stump, while passing another competitor in the scrub and the dust.
Favoured crew of Ian Swan and Colin Gow, having done so well in yesterday’s prologue, suffered clutch trouble today. A replacement master cylinder was being changed at the service park in the Parkes Showgrounds. All will be well again tomorrow.
So the question on everyone’s lips at the moment is, even at this very early stage, who will stop the Travis juggernaut? Stay tuned.
Bill and Kathy Gill proved to be the class leader in the Regularity competition of the Classic Outback Trial taking out each of the four regularity sections today. Their big Mercedes 350 SL suited the farm lanes and shire roads surrounding Bogan Gate and Trundle and the accuracy of Kathy’s navigation is obviously paying dividends.
David and Stephen Gainer and their rare left-hand drive Datsun 240Z currently lie second on 13 points, just 2 behind the Gills and four points in from of Paul and Mariella Kirkham’s 1970 Datsun 1600.
Crews will face another four regularity sections on Monday before returning to Parkes for another overnight stop.
Banner: Tony Quinn and John Doble in their Nissan Navara head the time sheets after Day 1.