Former Australian Rally Champions, David ‘Dinta’ Officer and his wife Kate Officer, have been given the honour of leading away the field of historic rally cars in the 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial that starts in Alice Springs tomorrow (Wednesday, September 10).

Behind them the field of more than 70 pre-1986 vehicles, ranging from a 1951 Peugeot 203 to a Russian Lada Samara, will set off on a 7,600km adventure through the Northern Territory, Far North Queensland and Outback New South Wales, before finishing at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast on Saturday September 20.

David Officer won the 1984 Australian Rally Championship driving a 2.4 litre Group G Mitsubishi Galant wit Kate navigating, while Kate went on to take the Australian title as a navigator beside David in their Mitsubishi Starion in 1986.

This time they are Mitsubishi mounted again – in a 1970 model Colt Galant that they purchased in 2003 for just $50 – at the head of a three-Galant team running under the Lovells Springs banner.

“The Galants are simple and tough little cars and they are cheap!” said David Officer. “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!”

Snapping at their heels from the outset will be a potent pair of 1974 Datsun 260Zs – the first in the hands of top Victorian rally driver Graham Alexander and navigated by David Stewart and the second crewed by Kenyan rally enthusiasts Jonathon Savage and Laurence Gavin.

However they both will have to watch their mirrors for the potent 1982 Porsche 911 of Victorian Graeme Walkem and William Cromarty.

1979 Repco Reliability Trial runner-up, Barry Ferguson, and co-driver David Johnson, have drawn starting place 14 in their ex-Holden Dealer Team Commodore, but Ferguson is unfazed at not being amongst the early leaders on the road.

“What matters is where you are on the final day,” he said. “We’ll be pacing ourselves and hoping that others won’t!”

Following the official start in the Todd Street Mall tomorrow from 9.00am, all competitors will head off on a 331km loop south of Alice Springs, during which they will take part in four competitive stages – some on tracks used by the recent Finke Desert Race.

After the final sage and a two-hour service break at the Finke Track 2 Off-road complex, competitors will then return to Traeger Park, Alice Springs, where they will remain in parc ferme overnight before departing from 6.00am the following morning for Mt.Isa.
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