Whilst the mighty Nissan Navara of Tiny Quinn and John Doble continues to lead the Allcomers Competition, the Classic Competition in the 2022 Classic Outback Trial is being steamrolled by Andrew and David Travis in their Nissan Gazelle as they increase the lead they have held since the first day of the seven-day Special Stage Rally.
Andrew, a financial advisor and his father/co-driver David, a dentist, both hail from Bathurst, where the rally will finish on Saturday.
The pair has had a stranglehold on the Classic Outback Trial, winning four of the seven events held since 2009. And the way Andrew has been driving, it would be a brave punter to bet against them making it five victories, and four in a row at that!
The Nissan Gazelle won all 5 of Wednesday’s Special Stages, increasing their already substantial lead to a healthy 8 minutes and 50 seconds over another father and son team, Michael and Timothy Valantine in a Datsun Stanza.
Valentine has had his fair share of problems in this event, having miscued on a corner on Monday ending up in the middle of a shallow dam. Michael protested to the Events Stewards about the instruction, his protest was upheld and the time lost in the dam was reinstated. This put him into second place at the start of Wednesday’s competition, two minutes ahead of third placed Darkie Barr-Smith and Rob Hunt in a Ford Capri.
Despite some inspired driving by both crews in an effort to gain superiority over each other, they held station over the day’s stages around Mt Canobolas, south of Orange and Mt Macquarie, near the historic town of Carcoar. Valantine is almost nine minutes shy of leader Travis with Barr-Smith a further three minutes in arrears in third place.
Neil Schey/Scott Middleton and David Hills/Ben Richards, both Ford Escort RS1800 mounted, follow in fourth and fifth places, with Joel Wald/Cathy Elliot from Melbourne in a Datsun Stanza in sixth.
Veteran Classic Outback Trial competitor, Pat Cole along with son Brad, in a rare Mercedes Benz 280 SE Pagoda, lie in an incredible seventh position.
Aside from the drama of the outright positions, the Classic Outback Trial has brought about many stories of heroism and heartbreak.
One such story is that of John Rawson and son Ashley McBain. John lost his original co-driver to work commitments a couple of weeks prior to the event and coerced Ash into the hot seat for the week-long event.
On the first day they suffered engine overheating problems and while John – a service garage proprietor – worked feverishly overnight to change a head gasket, Ash put his Facebook contacts to work and found a radiator for the 44 year old Datsun Stanza in Goulburn. So, an evening, night and morning trip from Parkes to Goulburn and back again for Ash saw that the car readied and fit to start the next day’s competition.
The boys were doing well until a mid-stage issue saw John hop out and start work under the car, when he gashed his head badly on a protruding jagged chassis rail. In a vain attempt to stop the bleeding, they got the car back to the Condoblin Service point only for the Medical team to require John to visit the Condoblin Hospital to medically stem the flow of blood!
Another missed day of the Classic Outback Trail ensued while John recuperated before John and Ash started again this morning. A good showing with some top 10 stage times on the first three Wednesday stages came to nought when the engine cried “enough!” and the trail of oil behind them spelt massive internal damage and the end of a heroic battle with mechanical and bodily parts!
The Classic Outback trial continues on Thursday with another four stages before arriving at Bathurst early in the afternoon. One planned stage will be missing due to the rising flood waters on the Turon River.
Rally organisers have declared the causeway crossing the river to be unsafe for vehicles, so unfortunately the event will lose one of its most spectacular and much vaunted special stages, over Razorback Ridge.
The rally concludes on Saturday at the Bathurst Civic Centre in Russell Street at 1300 hrs.
The results for the first 4 days of the Classic Outback Trial became final on Wednesday night. This approach assists organisers in compiling final results after the rally. No protests or result adjustments for the first four days are permitted after today’s posted results became final.
The left hand drive Datsun 240Z of David and Stephen gainer continues to lead the Regularity section of the 2022 Classic Outback Trial, ahead of Bill and Kathy Gill’s Mercedes 350 SLC.
After dropping a heap of points yesterday, following a rare off road excursion, the Gill’s held station today and now lie just 28 points behind the Gainers, with Phil and Mariella Kirkham in a Datsun 1600 only a scant 4 points shy of the Mercedes.
Competition will be keen for the eight regularity competitors, which still includes Michael and Anne Wilkinson’s all Electric Sunbeam Alpine sports car, over tomorrow’s three stages on their way to Bathurst.
Banner: Darkie Barr-Smith and Rob Hunt, Ford Capri Perana.