Australian Safari: Day four report

AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY - Wednesday, August 22 DAY 4: Tilmouth Well-Wycliffe Well Total distance: 557km. Competitive distance: 407km (2 stages) GARLAND TAKES STRANGLEHOLD ON AUSTRALIAN SAFARI Defending champion Bruce Garland today took a ...

AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY - Wednesday, August 22
DAY 4: Tilmouth Well-Wycliffe Well
Total distance: 557km. Competitive distance: 407km (2 stages)

GARLAND TAKES STRANGLEHOLD ON AUSTRALIAN SAFARI

Defending champion Bruce Garland today took a stranglehold on this year's Australian Safari international cross-country rally after major rivals Ross Nicastri and Terry Denham were struck by mechanical problems.

Garland, who is chasing a record fourth Safari title, leads the Auto Division of the 4,426km rally after today's fourth stage from Tilmouth Well to Wycliffe Well with an overall time of 16-hrs 7-mins 13-secs in a Holden Rally Team Jackaroo. The 43-year-old from Sydney holds an advantage of 25-mins 37-secs over the second-placed Mitsubishi Pajero of Victorian Stephen Riley.

Nicastri, who began the 557km stage in second position, and 1-min 17-secs behind Garland, dropped to third after being slowed by alternator problems on his Nissan Patrol. The former Australian speedway champion is now 26-mins 52-secs adrift of the Holden spearhead.

Denham's hopes of bettering his second place result in the 2000 Safari almost certainly evaporated when his Mitsubishi Pajero was struck with engine problems. After starting the stage third, and only 2-mins 57-secs behind Garland, he is now 11th after incurring a 20-hr penalty for failing to complete the stage.

"There was nothing between Rosco (Nicastri), Terry (Denham) and I at the start of the day, but things have fallen my way and now I've got the gap I wanted," said Garland.

"At the same time, I didn't have the perfect day. Toward the end of the stage I was mowing through long grass and it filled up the front of the vehicle. We had to stop twice to clear the grass away from the radiator because it was starting to overheat. Then we lost more time with a puncture."

Northern Territory driver Bruce Muir moved up to fourth in a Nissan Patrol, and nine-times Bathurst 1000 champion Peter Brock charged into the top five for the first time in the rally ^Ö he is now fifth in a production-based Jackaroo.

In the Moto Division, South Australia's Andrew Caldecott remained on target for a second successive victory by extending his lead. The 37-year-old from Keith has an overall time of 15-hrs 23-mins 18-secs on a KTM 660 Rallye, and leads Northern Territory rider Stephen Greenfield, riding a Honda XR650, by 23-mins 37-secs.

"After crashing three times yesterday I was cautious for the first part of today's course," said Caldecott. "Then I saw 'Greenie' was catching me so I got on with it and maintained a steady speed. I think we both took a couple of wrong turns out there because the tracks were hard to follow."

London-based Australian Andrew Coaker continued his climb through the field to finish the stage third overall. However, American Casey McCoy slipped from third to fourth after crashing his Honda XR650 heavily. The incident damaged the brakes on his machine and he lost considerable time.

"I overshot a corner and hit a tree, which destroyed the brake levers," said McCoy. "I think I may have broken a toe, but I'm more frustrated with myself than anything because I'd been hanging in with the two guys at the front and now I've lost contact."

South Australia's Tony Tervoert, who was third in the 2000 Safari, crashed his Husqvarna in the section before Ti Tree and suffered minor back injuries. He was taken to Alice Springs Hospital for X-rays. Brisbane rider John Hudson was also taken to Alice Springs Hospital after breaking his left arm when he crashed his Yamaha.

The Safari continues tomorrow with a 852km stage to Top Springs. <pre> OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 4 - Wednesday, August 22):

AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 16:07.13 2. S. Riley (Vic)-J. Doble (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 16:32.50 3. R. Nicastri (NSW)-S. Green (NSW) Nissan Patrol 16:34.05 4. B. Muir (NT)-A. Muir (NT) Nissan Patrol 16:39.14 5. P. Brock (Vic)-J. Brock (Vic) Holden Jackaroo 16:57.22 6. D. Harringon (Vic)-B. Bennett (Vic) Nissan Patrol Ute 17:25.04 7. W. Ridge (NSW)-J. Ridge (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 17:36.15 8. P. Lockhart (Qld)-T. Donovan (Qld) Mitsubishi Pajero 18:09.54 9. R. Land (U.S.)-P. Connolly (Vic) Isuzu Trooper 19:55.12 10. S. Bates (SA)-D. Ahola (SA) Mitsubishi Triton 20:12.32

MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 15:23.18 2. S. Greenfield (NT) Honda XR650 15:46.55 3. A. Coaker (Qld) KTM 660 Rallye 16:42.41 4. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 17:00.43 5. S. Blackney (GB) Honda XR650 17:48.28 6. J. O'Neill (NT) Yamaha WR400 17:50.49 7. P. MacDonald (NSW) Honda XR650 17:52.49 8. M. Carey (Vic) Honda XR650 17:53.28 9. Colin Ross (NT) KTM 640 17:58.31 10. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 18:01.43

-ASR-

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