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Classic Outback Trial 2022
Day 6 - April 1, 2022

On April 1 the cars competed over stages in Vulcan, Essington and Lowes Mount State Forests, near Oberon where I happen to live. Time and distance ensured that I could only get to the second Essington stage and then Lowes Mount.

The first stage of the day was in the Roberts Road part of Essington State Forest to the north of Sewells Creek Road. This has been used in rallies over the last two or three years, but few of the competitors would have been familiar with it. The roads there provide a good mixture to test drivers.

Second stage was also in Essington forest, running from Chain of Ponds Road northwards and then returning to the finish at the intersection of Knights and Dog Rocks Roads, another stage used in recent rallies in the area. There were some good fast roads there to test crew bravery. The last time I took photos in that forest I was snowed on but this time the weather warmed up to a balmy seven degrees (not allowing for wind chill).

See the photos from the Essington stage here

After a break at Black Springs for lunch and to work on the cars, the rally went south into the Arkstone part of Vulcan where drivers could test their brakes and handling on some very twisty roads.

I took a few photos in the service park, but the time was mainly spent catching up with competitors that
I'd had little chance to talk to while the cars were running

While I was at Black Springs the local Police Sergeant arrived with the news that he had received several complaints about competitors breaking road rules and generally being a nuisance. Some of the competitors suggested that whingers shouldn't be listened to, but all it took after the last rally in the area was a single service crew leaving litter outside a resident's house (and in his trailer!). It took several days to hose down the local discontent and I had to wear some of the criticism because I live in Oberon and people knew of my connection with the event. It still gets mentioned occasionally on social media. Rallying uses public roads and it would be very easy to lose that privilege if it starts to upset locals, and they can be easy to upset. The policeman happens to be a rally fan and comes out to spectate at events in the area. Things could have gone very badly for the day's COT action if he had had a different feeling about the sport. He told me that if there had been an accident with a member of the public caused by a rally competitor doing the wrong thing he would have withdrawn police permission for the rest of the day's rallying, effectively cancelling it.

I didn't think it was appropriate for my article in the local paper so I sent this Letter to the Editor:

The 2022 Classic Outback Trial was a seven-day car rally running from Parkes to Bathurst from March 27 to April 2. On April 1 the cars competed over stages in Vulcan, Essington and Lowes Mount State Forests. I did media coverage of the event from Orange on March 30 and apart from almost being frozen solid in Essington forest the event was a pleasure from start to finish.

The one low point of the event was that there were complaints made to the police in Oberon about the behaviour of some competitors. Both the police and the event organisers take the perception of rallying seriously, but there can always be a few who are either careless or a little irresponsible. If you see a rally car behaving badly try to get the competition number or some sort of identification. The regulations covering the sport allow for quite severe penalties for breaking road rules and action will be taken against offenders.

I have a personal interest in this because while everyone else can go home, I live in Oberon and I don't want anything to happen that threatens the public image of my chosen sport or could prevent us from continuing to enjoy the excellent rallying country in the nearby forests.

The final stage before crews returned to rally HQ at Bathurst was in Lowes Mount State Forest. Again, this stage would have been familiar to some competitors and contained some very deep erosion ruts to make sure that codrivers called out the cautions correctly.

See the photos from the Lowes Mount stage here

Fastest crews on the day were Andrew and David Travis (Nissan Gazelle), Michael and Tim Valantine (Datsun Stanza) and Darkie Barr-Smith and Rob Hunt (Ford Capri). It probably wasn't a coincidence that these three crews took out the podium places for the overall seven days, but they had been at the top all week.

A report on the event appeared in the Oberon Review on April 15, 2022

(I probably should be offended that instead of a byline and photo credit, the author was "Contributed" and the photos were "SUPPLIED".)

Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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