Australian Safari Rally -- Sunday, August 26
DAY 8: Darwin-Darwin
Total distance: 40km. Competitive distance: 9km (2 stages)
Duck shooters disrupt Australian Safari international cross country
Darwin's annual duck shooting season opening today proved a bonus for Holden Jackaroo driver Bruce Garland and KTM motorcycle rider Andrew Caldecott as they clinched the two major titles in the Australian Safari international cross country rally through the Northern Territory.
Today's eighth and final stage was to have comprised four sections, but two of them in the Howard Springs area over a total competitive distance of 21km were cancelled minutes before the scheduled start this morning when it was found that hunters were on the course.
The cancellation by Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter for safety reasons allowed Holden Rally Team spearhead Garland a shorter path to his fourth victory in the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive-vehicles, ahead of team-mate Peter Brock, and also assisted South Australian Caldecott to his second successive win in the Moto Division.
Carpenter said that when the original 4,426km course was finalised earlier this year he was unaware the Safari clashed with the duck shooting season in the area.
"To be honest it's not something you normally have to check for, but when we got there this morning there were literally hundreds of duck shooters around the place so we had to cancel," he said.
Later Garland and Caldecott claimed their titles in the traditional closing section on Darwin's Mindil Beach in front of a large crowd which included the Northern Territory's new Chief Minister-elect Clare Martin.
Garland, who started the rally by winning the Prologue in Alice Springs on August 18, conceded the cancellation of the two sections at Howard Springs had made it more difficult for nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner Brock to overtake him.
"At the same time I'd started the day leading by more than 50-minutes, so the only way I was going to get beaten was if I got stuck in a bog, or something broke on my vehicle," said Garland.
"I didn't worry at all when I heard the sections were off because it meant there was less chance of a disaster, which can happen."
"I've been in rallies all over the world, including Paris-Dakar, but this is the first time I've ever seen duck shooters on the course."
"To win the Safari again is great. You can single any of them out as being better than the others because you always face the same degree of difficulty with the conditions and the terrain."
Garland won the title in an overall time of 25-hours 50-mins 34-secs, and finished 54-mins and 56-secs clear of Brock, who was followed by Victorian Des Harrington in a Nissan Patrol Ute, and NSW's Warren Ridge in a Mitsubishi Pajero.
Brock said that he was not concerned about the cancellation of the sections because his priority had been to contribute to a one-two finish for the newly-formed factory Holden team.
"It's just an awesome effort to come here and dominate in this way over such rough and tough country and some very good opposition," he said. "To get two vehicles to the finish in this event is a credit to Bruce and his team, and to Holden."
Caldecott, riding a 660 Rallye which arrived in Australia from the KTM factory in Austria earlier this month, won the Moto Division with an overall time of 24-hrs 18-mins 4-secs. The 37-year-old from Keith completed the event 53-mins 48-secs ahead of Northern Territory rider Stephen Greenfield on a Honda XR650.
London-based Australian Andrew Coaker continued his consistent form shown throughout the Safari to finish third on a KTM 660 Rallye, with American Casey McCoy fourth on a Honda XR650. Jamie O'Neill, provided the Northern Territory with two riders in the top five by finishing fifth on a Yamaha WR400.
Caldecott said his second Safari victory had been more difficult than his debut win 12 months ago because of a higher level of competition in 2001.
"When I heard they'd cancelled a couple of today's stages I didn't mind it because it took out some of the variables," said Caldecott. "I'm feeling relieved more than anything now it's over because it's been a hard slog from day one."
"We came across a big bog in the first section today, and it might have caused some trouble. I managed to sneak through without getting into the worst of it."
Greenfield said he would approach Honda Australia to assist with an ongoing development program for the XR650 in preparation for the 2002 Safari.
"Andy (Caldecott) and KTM did a great job and they deserved to win," said Greenfield. "We've got a good baseline bike, but we need to refine it to a higher level to close the gap."
Victorian Michael Carey suffered a suspected broken wrist when he crashed his Honda just seconds after completing the Mindil Beach section. He finished the Safari sixth overall. <pre> OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 8 - Sunday, August 26):
POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 25:50.34 2. P. Brock (Vic)-W. Webster (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 26:45.30 3. D. Harringon (Vic)-B. Bennett (Vic) Nissan Patrol Ute 27:10.19 4. W. Ridge (NSW)-J. Ridge (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 27:50.24 5. T. Denham (NSW)-M. Denham (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 27:57.34 6. P. Lockhart (Qld)-T. Donovan (Qld) Mitsubishi Pajero 28:33.24 7. S. Bates (SA)-D. Ahola (SA) Mitsubishi Triton 32:10.35 8. B. Land (U.S.)-P. Connolly (Vic) Isuzu Jackaroo 32:11.13 9. R. Parker (WA)-T. Parker (WA) Landrover Discovery 46:59.28 10. S. Riley (Vic)-J. Doble (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 50:07.16
POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 24:18.04 2. S. Greenfield (NT) Honda XR650 25:11.52 3. A. Coaker (Qld) KTM 660 Rallye 26:06.59 4. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 26:49.46 5. J. O'Neill (NT) Yamaha WR400 27:42.20 6. M. Carey (Vic) Honda XR650 27:45.22 7. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 27:55.39 8. C. Ross (NT) KTM 640 28:05.46 9. P. MacDonald (NSW) Honda XR650 28:18.30 10. D. Schwarz (SA) Yamaha WR250 28:34.36