Keeping the P76 flag flying - By Hal Moloney

The 2009 Repco Trial  8-17 August 2009

Normally it is a long time between major car trials but 2009 revealed two in the same month. The Repco Rerun and the Out back Trial. Finances of course allowed us to run one event only. The Repco Trial was my choice as I had run a Home On Th’ Range P76 in the original Repco Trial in 1979 Car 120.

My trusty blue Targa was thoroughly checked over and serviced prior to the start. I acquired the services of Peter Meddows as a navigator as Peter was able to assist financially as well as being a competent navigator.
The trial started in Melbourne on Saturday and finished in Parachilna a week later. John Ernst and Victorian P76 members Brian Carte and his son Travis were at the start to welcome us. Brian and Travis followed the Trial up to Tooberac
The Saturday start as usual had us checking out the opposition and finding that we were the only P76 to start. The number of Austin 1800 cars surprised us. The event comprised many tests such as Khancoss, rally and trial stages, motorkhana’s etc.

First day took us to Tooberac as did the 1979 Repco Trial then on to Ballarat after competing in the “White Swan Reservoir” stage where we almost collided with a pushbike on the stage.
Ballarat was an overnight stay that then took us to the Ballarat airfield for a khanacross. This event was our undoing and lost us many places. We were car 3 into the stage which should have had a run through prior to the start but this did not happen. The direction arrows were not placed as we were told and along with cars 1 & 2 we received a wrong direction penalty. This left us in about 38th position at the next overnight stop at Mt Gambier.
The only trouble I had with car was at Mt Gambier when the lower rear Shock bushes disintegrated. We replaced them with rubber bushes and had no more trouble.
As we headed through Renmark and Tailem Bend some old stage names from 1979 were recognised such as “Wrattenbully” and “Moonlight Tank”. Several long very sandy stages were encountered but as in 1979 the sand did not cause the P76 any concern. I have never had a P76 bogged in sand and have taken it on to the beach near Newcastle.
Following an overnight stay in Nuritootpa we contested the Collingrove Hill Climb and clawed back some lost points having now climbed to 13th outright. Having completed the hill climb we travelled through Burra and contested a wonderful stage that took us past “Faraway Hill” and near to “Quondong”.

Day 5 finished at Broken Hill were we stayed for two nights. Day 6 saw us travel East from the Hill to contest two night stages run through large properties. The dust was unbelievable but we still managed to hold our own as Barry Ferguson in the Commodore was the car behind us. At one of the gates, Peter accidentally dropped his instructions in the dust and had to run several hundred metres back to recover them after we discovered them missing. The following Commodore did not catch us.

We used the Broken Hill Speedway to contest another event and this suited the P76 which was now up to 12th position.
Some of the roads used on day 7 were used in the London – Sydney Marathon in 1968.
The stages were great and again suited the power of the P76. The hospitality of the outback was amazing with a cuppa break put on at “Kalabity Homestead” and lunch in the shearers shed at “Curnamona Homestead”.
For those who were at the P76 get together at Cockburn in 1996 would remember Iris Williams who did most of the organising. Well I missed seeing her again by hours as she was working at Curnamona Homestead and had not long left and not aware that we would be there.

While waiting to refuel at Maree I noticed a hold up as John Phillis in the Falcon had been at the bowser for some time. I found that one of the Peugeot contestants had upset the garage man who then had gone home and said that he would be back the following day. The garage man calmed down and come back after an hour.

A night stay in Coober Pedy was followed by lunch at Kingoonya where I managed to burn my arm on the exhaust while doing an oil change.
The first aid girls travelling with the Trial attended to my burn which was much appreciated. The burn mark took months to properly heal. Contrary to belief I did not do it to obtain female attention but after that episode I will next time.
A final 400 + km run on the West side of Lake Gairdner took us to Mt Ive Station then on to Port Augusta where we finished 10th outright. We managed to overhaul Barry Ferguson’s and Dave Johnson in the Commodore on the last day of competition.

Dave Johnson had navigated for Gelignite Jack Murray and Andrew Cowan previously Lake Gairdner is where the Salt Lake speed records are held. Competitors stay at Mt Ive Station which has fuel and shop facilities.
The Trial was a great credit to Graham Wallis the event director who has become a professional at Trial directing. Graham is a member of the Victorian Peugeot Car Club Hal Moloney