event reports

Travis wins 2022 Classic Outback Trial in fine style

Bathurst based son and father team of Andrew and David Travis won the 2022 Classic Outback Trial today after a commanding performance of aggressive and fast driving over the seven day Special Stage Rally. The win was the Travis’ fifth in this 1700 kilometer-long grueling, dusty and sometimes muddy event and astonishingly, their fourth win in a row.

After 31 special stages which started in Parkes on Sunday 26 March, only a handful of other drivers were able to better Travis individual stage times. His winning margin was more than 15 minutes.

The pair’s win has proved beyond any doubt that the Bathurst team are the Australian long distance rally masters – with no peer!

Second in the Classic Outback Trial, having shadowed the flying Travis’ and their Nissan Gazelle for most of the event was Michael Valantine and his son Timothy in a Datsun Stanza. After running off the road into a shallow dam on the second day, Valantine drove his heart out to make up the lost time, only to suffer a brake problem on the penultimate day that saw most of his hard work to recoup any time fade away.

Valantine’s only chance of victory on the last day on Saturday was for the Travis pair to suffer a mechanical breakdown. That was not to be.

Third place went to the South Australian crew of Darkie Barr-Smith and Rob Hunt in a Ford Capri Perana. Barr-Smith showed his form in a relatively new car and was spectacular all week, but in the end, simply not quick enough.

David Hills from New South Wales was fourth, with his co-driver Ben Richards. Their trusty and powerful Ford Escort RS1800 was a delight to hear all event. Hills worked his way up the leader board throughout the event as the competition fell by the wayside, with mechanical or driver maladies.

In one of the drives of the event, Victorian property developer Joel Wald and co-driver Cathy Elliot beavered away all week in a fine display of car control and spirited driving to bring their Datsun Stanza home in fifth position, 11 minutes behind Hills.

The closest fought battle of the 31 special stages of the rally was for seventh and eighth places, between Shane Attwell/David Moir of Western Australia and Michael Ward/Pete Hellwig. Ironically Attwell’s car, a Ford Falcon GT was the biggest car of the 40 starters and Ward’s diminutive Toyota Corolla the smallest! After seven long and hard days of car rallying between the Central West New South Wales towns of Parkes, Condobolin, Orange and Bathurst only 3 seconds separated this pair when the cars crossed the finish line outside the Bathurst Civic Centre this afternoon (Saturday 2 April).

Organisers of the event conducted 3 separate competitions for three very different types of cars.

Queensland’s Tony Quinn, in a South African constructed Nissan Navarra, built for the Dakar rally took honours in the Allcomers competition, with the Regularity competition being won by David and Stephen Gainer in a left hand drive Datsun 240Z, with Paul and Mariella Kirkham in their Datsun 1600 second.

Celebrations started around lunchtime and will continue into the evening with a prizegiving ceremony at the Bathurst Panthers Club for all the crews, officials and support crews.

After 13 years of Classic Outback Trials, including a delay of 2 years due to the Covid19 pandemic, Event Director Phil Bernadou has called “time” and decided to retire the event. Many fond memories will be kept of the “COTs” – as the event is fondly known by the competitors and the many helpers who have donated hundreds of thousands of hours of their time and expertise over the years to bring a taste of the outback and the wide country of Australia to hundreds of people.