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The starter’s flag drops on the 2,260km Frontier Services Classic Outback Trial in Forbes tomorrow morning, with event favourites David and Kate Officer planning to establish an early lead in the diminutive 1970 Mitsubishi Galant they purchased six years ago for just $50.

The Melbourne husband and wife team, who were Australian Rally Champions in 1984 and 1986 respectively, won last year’s 7.600km Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial in the car and have further improved its braking and performance since.

“Because most of the competitive kilometres in this event are in the first half, it will be important to establish and early lead,” said David Officer. “We’ll be going hard from the start tomorrow.”

However their 1780cc Galant, which produces just 84kW at the rear wheels, will have the job ahead of it to out-sprint much more powerful cars in the field, which include two Porsche 911s, a Falcon GT HO replica, a V8-engined Ford Perana Capri and a flock of hot Datsuns and Ford Escorts.

“We’re not worried,” said Officer, who competed in three Rally Australia events in 1993, 1994 and 1995. “Consistency, not speed, wins these events.”

Like most of the Trial other 35 participants, the Officers arrived in Forbes yesterday and will attend tonight’s Welcome Function in the Council chambers, hosted by the City’s Mayor, Cr. Phyllis Miller. The Trial will start officially outside the Town Hall in Harold Street from 9.00am tomorrow morning (Monday August 31).

After special stages in the Condobolin area, including a refueling and service stop at the Condobolin Show Grounds, Trial competitors will return to Forbes tomorrow night, with the first cars expected back at the Forbes Show Grounds from 1.30pm. On Tuesday morning (September 1), the field will leave from Gordon Duff Drive from 8.00am, with the last car expected to depart by 9.30pm.

Sponsored by Frontier Services – the organisation founded by the Rev John Flynn (‘Flynn of the Inland’) to assist disadvantaged people living in remote regions of Australia – the Trial is travelling to the Tweed area of northern NSW via Coonabarabran and Glen Innes. On the way, entrants will compete against the clock over 21 special stages on unsealed forestry roads and private property.

Many of the tracks selected by the Classic Outback Trial have never previously been used for rallying, with up to 40 per cent of the route being competitive on some days. On arrival in the Tweed area on Friday September 4, entrants will take part in a special night event on the Repco Rally Australia Super Special Stage tarmac course on the streets of Murwillumbah.

The following day, Trial entrants will compete against the clock at full rally speeds over three of the actual unsealed Repco Rally Australia special stages used by competitors in the World Rally Championship, giving then the same unique driving experience as RRA entrants.

The Trial is scheduled to finish in the Tweed area on the evening of Saturday September 5. 

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