Vodafone to sponsor 2000 Australian Safari

THURSDAY, AUGUST 10: Vodafone Australia, part of the world's largest mobile telecommunications company, today announced that it would be the naming rights sponsor of this month's 4,067km Australian Safari cross-country motorsports...

THURSDAY, AUGUST 10: Vodafone Australia, part of the world's largest mobile telecommunications company, today announced that it would be the naming rights sponsor of this month's 4,067km Australian Safari cross-country motorsports rally.

The Vodafone Australian Safari - as it was officially named today by Andrew Bissex, Managing Director of Vodafone Australia and Craig Fletcher, General Manager of Octagon Motorsports - will be held in the Northern Territory from August 20-27.

Enjoying the support of the Northern Territory Government, the Safari course runs exclusively through the Territory from Alice Springs to Darwin and involves four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorcycles in a gruelling event designed to challenge endurance in both competitors and their vehicles.

Andrew Bissex said that sponsoring the 15th Safari event since 1985 would be an ideal opportunity to showcase Vodafone Globalstar - Australia's first fully integrated digital (GSM) and satellite communications mobile service. With Vodafone Globalstar offering 100-percent coverage across Australia, the Safari teams will have complete communications support throughout the event.

"Sponsorship of the Vodafone Australian Safari will provide us with valuable marketing opportunities with potential outback customers along the Safari course, as well as national and international exposure," said Mr Bissex.

"Motorsports is known to be a hi-tech sport, requiring leading-edge communications whenever and wherever the driver or rider happens to be. Vodafone is the world's leading, uniquely mobile telecommunications company, so this is an extremely appropriate association for both parties and we are pleased to be involved."

Fletcher said that securing Vodafone as a sponsor would assist the growth of the Safari that - in 2001 - will become part of the six-round Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross Country Rallies World Cup for motorcycles.

"The Safari is moving onwards and upwards, and having a multi-national telecommunications company such as Vodafone on board as naming-rights sponsor is another step forward for the event," said Fletcher.

"Vodafone has a proven track record of success in the telecommunications industry and with international sporting sponsorships such as the Wallabies, its backing of the Safari is vital to future development plans."

Fletcher also announced two other sponsorships for the Vodafone Safari, which is sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and the FIM.

Toyota Australia is the official vehicle supplier, and will provide six four-wheel-drive Landcruisers and three Avalon sedans for senior event management. Dunlop - as support sponsor - will supply tyres for the Toyota vehicles.

High-profile entries in this year's Vodafone Safari include former 500cc motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz, who will travel to Australia from the United States to ride a Suzuki DR-Z400 in the Moto Division and defending Auto Division title-holder Bruce Garland in a Holden Jackaroo.

Mike Porter mikep@qldnet.com.au

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , CCR