June 25th, 2008 by gary
While most entrants are choosing proven Australian rally cars for this September’s 7,000km Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial, Victorian Dan Murphy has gone to the other end of the earth in his bid to be a finisher.
Murphy, a 69-year-old pensioner with a lifelong passion for rallying, will line up alongside other competitors from around the country in Alice Springs on September 8 in a Russian-made 1989 Lada Samara 3-door hatch.
While the cut-off date for vehicles in the rally is December 31, 1985, Murphy obtained documentation to verify his Lada is a run-on of a model originally built on the banks of the Volga River in Southern Russia in 1983.
Based on a late 1970’s Fiat 127, the 1.5 litre, four cylinder front wheel drive Lada has been his weapon of choice in Victorian Historic Rally Association events since 2005 and remains totally standard other than its stiffer Pedders suspension and mandatory rally safety equipment.
He’s attracted to the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial both for the adventure and because he wants to show that the Lada can compete and also most importantly be a qualified finisher. To ensure that happens, he will be supported a service crew of four.
“She’s not very fast, but gee she’s great fun to drive,” said Murphy of the Lada. “They are tough little cars because Russians roads were pretty poor in the 1980s, so they were made to take plenty of punishment.
“Above all, the event is really about the challenge and the people involved in it. They are the ones who you compete against and they are always the first to help you if you’re in trouble. That camaraderie is just something very special.
Wherever we finish will be a bonus.”
Now retired after running a forklift company, Dan Murphy likes to keep active and credits his wife with the support to allow him to pursue his passion of rallying in the UK and Australia.
He’s done four Round Australia Rallies, competing in two and being part of the service crew in two others, finishing 15th in 1998 and 25th in 2001. He will be amongst around 100 entrants in the 2008 Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial.
Other notable entrants include 1979 Repco Reliability Trial runner-up Barry Ferguson in his former Holden Dealer Team Commodore and former Australian Rally Champions David â€˜Dinta’ and Kate Officer at the head of a team of three early 1970s Mitsubishi Galants, while two Datsun 240Zs have also made the trip from Kenya to compete.
Entry in the Red Centre to Gold Coast Trial costs $5,500 for the Trial category and $4,250 for the less-competitive Challenge, both prices including GST, with a maximum of 120 entries
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