event reports, News

Day 2: Regularity finds a new hero

The combination of Bill Gill, Kathy Gill and their Mercedes 350 SLC has again stomped on the opposition during Day 2 of the Classic Outback Trail Regularity Rally.

The Gills’ again showed a clean pair of heels to the remainder of the field over the four sections which totaled over 150 kilometers. The field included equal second placed Datsun 1600 of Paul and Mariella Kirkham and the 1972 Datsun 240Z of David and Stephen Gainer. In fourth place at the end of today is Bruce Power and Jill Robilliard, in their 1939 Chevrolet Master 85.

Whilst only 20 points separate the first three cars, a whopping 74 points is the gap to the ‘39 Chev.
The Regularity Rally includes a wide selection of cars, including an Alfa Romeo and a rare 1972 BMW 2002 Touring fastback.

The technical star of the Classic Outback Trial Regularity Rally is without doubt Michael and Anne Wilkinson’s 1963 Sunbeam Alpine, which has been converted to full electric propulsion by Michael in his own engineering workshop in Bonnie Doon, Victoria.

The day’s competition just about drains the car’s battery, but it is a real credit to them that they have undertaken two days of the Classic Outback Trial without major fault or incidents. Prime7 Television will be doing a on the sport special on Michael’s car for the Thursday night Prime news.


Another lesson in rally driving at speed was given by Andrew and Travis during day two of the 2022 Classic Outback Trial.

Using the tight and dusty forests around Condobolin in the morning, the rally stages switched to fast and open farm country in the afternoon. Nothing could stop the Travis and their 2 time winning Nissan Gazelle and they won two stages and came home second or third on the other of the days 5 special stages.

Michael Valantine in his rapid Datsun Stanza grabbed two stage wins and he really had the bit between his teeth, especially after running off the road on Sunday.

Michael & Timothy Valantine

Pre-event favoured crew of Stuart Bowes and Jeremy Browne from South Australia, who like Valantine fell out of early contention on Sunday afternoon, drove their massive Mercedes 450 SLC “like they stole it”. They were the other crew to a stage win from David Travis.

The Holden Commodore VL of Matt Swan and Paul Franklin – which is also a previous winner of the Classic Outback Trial, in 2012, currently sits in third place.

By the end of the day, the Travis’ hold a six and a half minute lead over a hard charging Darkie Barr-Smith and Rob Hunt in a V8 Ford Perana with Matt Swan catching up their day one deficit to be just under four minutes behind Barr-Smith.

Victorian Escort RS1800 driver Neil Schey and Scott Middleton lies in fourth spot, with a similar car of David Hills and Ben Richards rounding out the first five places.

In a top paddock… Neil Schey and Scott Middleton on a property in the Central West on Day 2.

There has been drama aplenty with many of the 45 crews after the first two days of competition, including Victorian Datsun Stanza driver John Rawson. Rawson is competing with his son Ashley McBain. They blew a head gasket yesterday and needed a new radiator overnight. Ashley drove to Goulburn and back in the wee hours to collect a radiator from a helpful donor after a plea on Facebook. Their troubles continued when John hurt his head at the Condobolin lunch break and needed medical attention.

The Mazda RX7 of Sydney car dealer Adam Kaplan and Alisha Penny destroyed a clutch on Sunday and fitted a new one to the rotary engine monster, only to leave the start this morning with a long face and a dragging clutch. Looks like things got better during Monday’s stages and Kaplan is again competitive with the top 10 crews.

Lots of stores of near and not so near misses with wildlife in the outback forests today, with several cars bearing bent panels. Dust continues to be a real problem – but dust is generally preferable to mud!

The Classic Outback Trial continues tomorrow (Tuesday) as crews leave the Parkes region and move east to Orange for the overnight stop. A further 5 stages await drivers and co-driver with the first of the much vaunted closed shire roads being put to good use. The day finishes with a tradition pine forest stage before cars transport to the Orange Showground where the first car is due to arrive at 1530 hrs.

Banner: Bill and Kathy Gill, Mercedes 350 SLC, are dominating the COT22 Regularity Rally.