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Roller coaster ride for rally crews at the COT on day 3

Wednesday provided our crews with a visit a genuine working cattle station for service and lunch but not before the field had rode the roller coaster 65 km Winneke Goldfield stage. It proved to be a most exhilarating drive for most with crest after crest after crest, requiring a serious amount of commitment to be fast. But for some it was a ride they’d want to get off.

CLASSIC COMPETITION

The first stage of the day, SS13 Ironwood Creek of 29 km gave the Callinan’s in their Historic Motorsport build Ford Escort RS1800 their first stage win. 5 seconds down the road though was the other RS1800 of Companc / Volta. Overnight leader Cuthbert / Evans retained the overall lead despite being 1:27 off the pace. Even further off the pace was Travis / Travis 1:41 behind but still retaining 2nd place. Crane / Anderson (Peugeot 504) began their charge up the leader board from 12th with a fine 3rd place on stage. Continue reading

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Roller-coaster COT ride

As the sun rose against the MacDonnell Ranges on a chilly Tuesday morning, all but the Sawyer brothers who retired on day two, disembarked from Lasseters for a challenging days’ rallying.

Before formalities got under-way, event co-ordinator Steuart Snooks, presented Argentine pair Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Volta with the COT gnomes, which are awarded to the most deserving crew each day. Day three of competition would see competitors cover six stages, totalling 159 competitive kilometres, north east of Alice Springs with two service breaks at the sensational Hale River Homestead. Continue reading

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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

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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