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The Melbourne husband and wife crew of David and Kate Officer in their 1970 model Mitsubishi Colt Galant has bounced back to re-claim the lead in the 2009 Frontier Services Classic Outback Trial as the field of pre-1996 rally cars returned to Coonabarabran this afternoon after four demanding special stages totalling nearly 120km north of the centre.

While starting the day 23 seconds behind the 1970 Datsun 1600 of fellow Victorians Terry Naish and Ross Runnalls, the former Australian Rally Champions gained time on their rivals on every stage to end the day 42 seconds in the lead.

Third place is now held by the Officers’ Mitsubishi teammates, Victorians Steve Ashton and Ro Nixon, who leap-frogged the father and son team of Pat and Bradley Cole after they struck mechanical bothers on today’s final ‘Humps’ special stage in their 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda coupe.

They lost nearly seven minutes to the Mitsubishi and dropping to fourth outright.

The New South Wales crew of Michael Pinckham and Tomm Flegl in their 1982 Holden Commodore have now moved past the Datsun 180B of Queenslanders John and Michael Giddings into fifth place with the 1985 Porsche 911 Carrera of Tasmanians Graeme Walkem and Bill Cromarty now seventh
Tomorrow the field leaves Coonabarabran from 8.00am for Glen Innes, via Barraba and Inverell to Glen Innes, via another four special stages.

Arriving from Coonabarabran via breakfast at Elah station, a refueling stop in Boggabri and two timed closed-road Special Stages in a State Forest, the field is scheduled to arrive at the Barraba Bowling Club from 1.25pm, marking the half way point of the six day, 2,260km event.

After refueling and lunch, the first cars will leave Barraba at 2.20pm for a transport stage to the Glen Innes Showgrounds, via Bundarra and Inverell, with the last Trial car expected to depart the Barraba Bowling Club by 4.30pm. Inverell residents can expect to see the Trial cars passing through the city between approximately 3.10-5.10pm.

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  – two immediately after the WRC cars and the last ahead of the International rally field – giving entrants the same unique driving experience as RRA entrants.

The Trial is scheduled to finish in the Tweed area following its final Repco Rally Australia Special stage on the evening of Saturday September 5.

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