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Competitors are fine-tuning their cars and excitement is building for the start of the third ever Classic Outback Trial – a seven day competition starting Sunday 19 August, which takes rally crews across dirt roads and paddocks and through the towns of Forbes, Condobolin, Cobar, Ivanhoe and Broken Hill, finishing up at Renmark.

This year, Frontier Services is again charity partner for the Trial which will see 26 crews battle it out across the bush. All the money raised from the event will go to Frontier Services and its volunteer program Outback Links. The program matches skilled and gifted volunteers with people in rural and remote areas who could use a helping hand.

Classic Outback Trial competitors will drive up to 500km each day, with the majority of the stages taking place on private properties, incorporating a variety of challenging terrains. Locals will have the chance to see the cars as they pass through the towns.

This year Australian rally champion Geoff Portman and his wife Lisa will be the support crew for his friend Ross Runnalls and daughter Jamie. Runnells will be driving in a 3.3L six-cylinder 1981 Holden Commodore, while Jamie will be navigator. According to Geoff, the Trial is a skilful race and the atmosphere is set to be exciting.

“The backdrop of the dust, the rain, the mud and the cars all adds to the spectacle of the event. The contrast of the images of the cars in the outback is fabulous. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed being a spectator,” said Mr Portman.

Portman has an impressive racing history, being a double Australian Rally Champion and a triple Victorian Rally Champion who has won the Alpine Rally five times. His latest win was with his long-time navigator and friend, Runnells. Mr Portman also has close ties with Frontier Services after spending many years working in remote Australia.

“I have a lot of respect for the work that is done in the outback which we got to see and appreciate more than most others,” said Portman. “I don’t know what would happen if Frontier Services wasn’t there to assist people.”

Outback Links volunteers have supported families living in areas across the route of the trial, including Chris Tesseyman, from a station near Broken Hill

“I had a big shed to build and needed a hand,” he said. “Keith, an Outback Links volunteer, provided me with heaps of help. He is a highly skilled man in lots of ways and was a pleasure to have on farm!”

A team from Frontier Services including Outback Links Coordinator Davida Melksham and Patrol Ministers Jenny Swanbury and Jorge Rebolledo will be cooking breakfast each morning for competitors as they prepare their vehicles for the day of driving ahead.

Progress of the event can be followed at www.classicoutbacktrial.com.au.

Every car will have a GPS transmitter and can be tracked each day. Results and photos will be posted daily. 
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