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The 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial gets officially starts on Wednesday September 10, with a diverse field of nearly 80 classic rally cars built prior to 1986 leaving Alice Springs on an 11-day outback adventure.

Their 7,600km journey takes them via Mt.Isa, Normanton, Cairns, Townsville, Longreach, Birdsville, Tibooburra, Bourke and Goondiwindi, with the cars scheduled to finish at the Broadbeach Mall on Saturday afternoon September 20.

Vehicles taking part range in age from the 1951 Peugeot 203 of Peugeot rally stalwarts Graham Wallis and Richard Davies to the 1989 Lada Samara of fellow-Victorians Dan Murphy and Rick Hartmann, with a plethora of makes and models in between.

Datsuns are the most popular choice of competitors, with the 13 entered ranging from a trio of 260Z sports coupes to a number of 180 and 1600 series coupes and sedans. Two of the 260Zs have come from Kenya for what is billed as being the last of the true ‘Round Australia’ trials, while the third is in the hands of top Victorian rally driver, Graham Alexander.

Holdens and Fords are the next most popular makes, with the eight Commodores entered topped by the ex-Holden Dealer Team car of Barry Ferguson and David Johnson that Ferguson drove to second place outright in the 1979 Repco Reliability Trial.

Leading Ford runners include Gerry Bashford and Ted Perkins in a 1972 Escort, while Mitsubishi’s hopes rest on former Australian Rally Champions David and Kate Officer, who head the Team Lovells entry of three early 1970s Mitsubishi Galants, with the Chairman of Rallycorp, Steve Ashton, another one of the team’s drivers

The field also has its exotic entries, ranging from a 1969 Lancia Fulvia HF 1600 to a brace of 1980s Porsche 911s, a 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda coupe and two Leyland P76 models, including a rare Targa Florio model.

Wallis’s 203 is one of the nine Peugeots entered and significantly is carrying the rally number 48 made famous by Maitland chemist Ken Tubman when he won the original 1953 REDeX Trial in a similar car after coming home with a wet sail on the final day.

Wallis is a veteran of two previous Round Australia Trials, starting with a 404 Station Wagon in the Repco Trial of 1979 and gradually working his way backwards through the Peugeot range to a 403 in the 1991 Mobil 1 Trial and now a 203.

“Our aim is to complete the course without having to work on the car every night and to enjoy ourselves,” said Wallis. “However if it’s sandy we will be as fast as anyone – including the Range-Rover that’s entered!”
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