When it comes to rallying, Melbourne’s David ‘Dinta’ and Kate Officer don’t do things by halves. For this year’s Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial, they’ve got a three-car Mitsubishi entry on the go and are preparing an ex-works Volvo for another entrant in the 7,000km event from September 8-20.

Since eschewing State and National championship events four years ago to go Historic Rallying, the former Australian Rally Champions have become leading participants in the Historic movement and were naturally attracted to the adventure and camaraderie of this year’s 13th ‘Round Australia’ Trial.

“We have had our interest in the sport rejuvenated since we began Historic Rallying,” said David Officer, who with his wife Kate won the Australian title in 1984 driving a 2.4 litre Group G Mitsubishi Galant, while Kate went on to take the title beside David in their Mitsubishi Starion in 1986.

“So when we heard that Bob (1970 Australian Rally Champion, Bob Watson) was running what could be the last true ‘Round Australia’ event this year, we know we shouldn’t miss it.”

Being staunch Mitsubishi runners throughout their State and National rally careers since 1978, the choice of vehicle for the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial was a foregone conclusion.

The Officers already had the 1970 Galant that they purchased in 2003 for $50 and felt it was ideal for this year’s 12-day adventure from Alice Springs to the Gold Coast via the Gulf of Carpentaria, which is for Historic Rally cars, Production Rally cars and non-turbocharged recreational four wheel drive vehicles built prior to 1986.

“The Galants are simple and tough little cars and they are cheap!” said David Officer. “The front suspension can give problems, but only if you bash into things, so we don’t do that!”

Similarly enthused, two other regular Historic Rally crews also decided to enter the event and asked the Officers to obtain and prepare identical Galants for them at their North Melbourne automotive service centre.

Apart from their regular rally experience, the Officers were a good choice because of their experience with inland Australian rallies through the Wynn’s Safari events in which they competed from 1985-1992 in Mitsubishi 4WD vehicles.

Steve Ashton, the chairman of Rallycorp (the company licensed to promote and develop the commercial rights of the Australian Rally Championship) will be running with his wife Ro Nixon, while Simon Crane, the boss of suspension specialists Lovells Springs, will be in the third ‘Team Officer’ Galant with fellow Sydneysider Maurice Blackwood.

The Officers snapped up the two additional Mitsubishi team cars for around $1000 the pair and David estimates that the total capital cost of each vehicle ready to start September’s Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial will be about $10,000 – plus labour.

“We’ll get a real bang for our buck,” said David. “Simon is helping us out with sponsorship and suspension from Lovells Springs and we will have our mates doing the servicing, but hopefully they won’t have much to do.

“Kate and I won’t win outright, but I think we’ll surprise a lot of people, enjoy a great adventure together and have plenty of fun!”

Entry in the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial costs $5,500 for the Trial category and $4,250 for the less-competitive Challenge, both prices including GST, with a maximum of 120 entries.

For event information visit www.redcentretogoldcoasttrial.com.au or call Bob Watson on (03) 9646 1066/0427 201 158

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