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Day 2 – COT16 competition finally underway

After a day’s delay while Alice Springs cleaned up from a massive storm last Friday, we were finally underway to run day two’s stages. The route took us north beyond the Tropic of Capricorn to Mount Yambah and Gemtree for 185 km of competitive kilometres stages and 430 km in total. Like the storm on Friday, the first 2 stages cut a trail of destruction through the field. And like that storm, most of the damage can be repaired, just putting plans back a bit.

The worst news of the day came early. Making its way into the first competitive, Michael and Andrew Sawyer’s Datsun 1600 suffered a terminal engine failure, leaving Andrew by the side of the Stuart Highway waiting for Geoff and Jenny and a trailer. Crushing news for the popular lads who are part of the COT family. Continue reading

event reports, News

Classic Outback Service

A service crew member sitting on a jerry can waiting for their car.

Waiting…

This story, about the Service Crews on the 2014 Classic Outback Trial, was written by COT wordsmith Alan Baker and appeared in the March 2105 issue of HRA News – the bimonthly magazine from the Historic Rally Association. Alan and the HRA have generously provided the attached copy of the report for our reading pleasure. It’s a great story, supported by some wonderful pics by Ian Smith Autopix and Alan himself.

Service crews – last to leave and first to arrive. Come along for the ride on the 2014 Classic Outback Trial...

How would you like a couple of weeks off work driving around the countryside? A different town each night, new scenery each day and new people with similar interests to meet. With a bit of luck, maybe someone will contribute towards fuel and accommodation too. Sound Okay? Great. Bring your sunscreen.

Read on… Classic Outback Service (pdf, 500 Kb)

event reports, News

Day 7 – Around Renmark

The Fat Lady Sings.

The last day of competition in the Classic Outback trial provided as much drama as any of the previous days. While first place Andrew and David Travis with a 22 minute lead just had to keep in on its wheels to take the win and second place looked safe enough at 4 minutes 26 seconds (although as we have seen, a tyre change will cost them at least 6 minutes), the battle for third was really on. The Datsun 240Z of Pickering and Boddy were a mere 30 seconds ahead of Batten and Snooks who were themselves just 30 seconds clear of Swan/Swan’s Volvo. Pickering was ready to defend his third place with new tyres and determination, Batten was intent on playing his usual game of worrying about himself, but sniffing a podium finish, Ian Swan was going to drive the wheels off the Volvo to position himself to take advantage of any slowing by those in front. There were 3 stages today totalling 66 kilometres today. Continue reading

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Day 6 – Broken Hill to Renmark

The Cream will rise. Another mammoth day of rallying in the outback on Friday on the run from Broken Hill in far western New South Wales, south to Renmark in South Australia, crossing a time zone on the way.

Leaving the famous town with street names such as Oxide, Sulphide and Chloride Street and in to sandy terrain for the first time, our crews had a 50 kilometre stage before a service break at the Coombah roadhouse. As the crews arrived it didn’t take long to work out that the thoughts of anyone backing off to hold their position were misplaced. Indeed, anyone who did, with the exception of the leaders Travis/Travis would be shuffled down the order without apology. Continue reading

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Day 5 – Broken Hill

Welcome relief at the COT. Crews, including the tireless service crews on the classic outback trial, enjoyed a quiet day around Broken Hill where 4 stages were contested in the morning. Finish of the day was before Noon at the Silverton Hotel, around 20 km out of Broken Hill, the birthplace of Broken Hill Proprietary Limited. Indeed, it was in the ruins of the original Hotel, just beside the current Hotel where the instrument was signed to wind up the original company and form the new company which evolved in to the biggest mining company in the world. Today was also event photographer Ian Smith’s birthday. Happy birthday Ian.  Continue reading

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Day 4 – Ivanhoe to Broken Hill

Moving day at the COT. The fourth day of the Classic Outback Trial has provided the first day where the leading crews incorporated some real strategy into their days rallying.

This is a long event and although there are still 3 days to go, it’s clear the front runners have their eyes on a bottle of champagne at Angove Winery in Renmark on Saturday afternoon. For the first time in the event, “hopes” of the previous days were replaced with “possibilities” at the Ivanhoe start. Crews would use the longest day of the event to set themselves up for the remaining days and the finish in Renmark.

In the service park too, the relaxed atmosphere of previous days was replaced with a sense of drama and tension. At every service rendezvous the service crews of the leading cars each noted the condition of their opposition. Don’t get me wrong, the strong sense of camaraderie is still there with crews lending other crews parts and even repairing each other’s service trailers on the side of the road. Continue reading

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Day 3 – Cobar to Ivanhoe

“I’m so glad we’ve done this, this is amazing.” An ebullient Matt Lee, 2011 Australian Rally co-driver champion emerged from his Holden Commodore at the major service break this afternoon raving about the day’s stages. There was a similar theme through the service park, a 40 minute break for crews on the road between Cobar and the overnight stop in Ivanhoe. Regardless of any problems they may be nursing to day’s end, drivers especially were singing the praises of the long stages today.

There was a sensation in the event before lunch when the leading Datsun 200B of Neil Cuthbert and Ross Runnalls went over on its side while slowly making a U-turn to check an instruction. Continue reading

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Day 2 – Condobolin to Cobar

Cuthbert and Runnalls back in the lead. Despite hitting a fence on one of the morning’s stages, the troublesome-until-now Datsun 200B of Neil Cuthbert and twice 1981-1982 Australian Rally Champion co-driver Ross Runnalls have overtaken the overnight leaders Travis/Travis who are driving an earlier model Datsun 1600. Cuthbert was first car on the road at Sunday’s start in Parkes but was pushed down to 4th during the day. It was the Travis’s who started day 2 of the Classic Outback Trial with a 2 ½ minute lead over 2012 winners Swan/Franklin in car 1 and over 3 minutes to the better of Cuthbert Runnalls.  Continue reading

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Day 1 – Parkes to Condobolin

2012 Classic Outback Trial winners Matt Swan and Paul Franklin in their Holden Commodore VL lie 2nd after today’s 5 stages from Parkes to Condobolin, 29 seconds behind leaders Andrew and David Travis in their veteran Datsun 1600. Long distance specialists Ashton/Nixon (Galant) who have twice finished 2nd in this event are currently 3rd, 56 seconds further back.

Cars were flagged away in bright sunshine from the main street of Parkes by the Mayor after all crews were photographed under the starting arch. First car away was the Datsun 200B of Cuthbert and Runnalls. The team changed the entire rear suspension overnight and then had to change an engine control module this morning, making the start with only a few minutes to spare. Clearly there is quite a lot of fine tuning to be done to this brand new car before it’s where they want it. After today’s stages, the crew has dropped back to 4th on provisional scores, a mere second from Aston/Nixon. Continue reading