AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY - Tuesday, August 21
DAY 3 REPORT: Kings Creek-Tilmouth Well
Total distance: 682km. Competitive distance: 405km (3 stages)
GARLAND TAKES LEAD IN SAFARI FROM NICASTRI
Australian Safari champion Bruce Garland's hopes of a record fourth victory in the event were boosted today when he took the lead for the first time in this year's 4,426km international cross country rally through the Northern Territory.
The 43-year-old Holden Rally Team Jackaroo driver leads the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles with an overall time of 12-hrs 14-mins 5-secs, and holds an advantage of 1-min 17-secs over former Australian speedway champion Ross Nicastri in a Nissan Patrol. NSW's Terry Denham remains within striking distance in a Mitsubishi Pajero and is 2-mins 57-secs behind Garland
Garland began the third stage over 682km from Kings Creek to Tilmouth Well in third position. He charged into the lead after clocking a time 7-mins 30-secs quicker than Nicastri for the stage.
"We pushed a little harder because we had to," said Garland. "The first day was a shocker for us and we lost time, but we've recovered and we've been moving forward. There's still a lot of racing to be done and anything can happen, but at least we've now put ourselves back into a good position."
"The course today had many technical sections and it was hard work. I was flat-out through the twisting bits and around the trees, and the Jackaroo had good straight-line speed along the fences."
Nicastri, searching for his first Safari victory, was delayed early in the stage when his machine stopped in the Finke River. He was able to resume racing, but was then slowed by a puncture and the loss of front-wheel-drive for the final 100km.
"We started with a couple of really good days, and now we've had a downer," said Nicastri. "That's the way racing goes. At the same time we're right in the thick of it and I think we can push the others all the way to Darwin."
Garland's team-mate, nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock, improved from eighth to seventh in the production-based Jackaroo he is sharing with son James.
In the Moto Division, South Australia's Andrew Caldecott extended his lead, despite crashing his KTM 660 Rallye three times. He was not injured in any of the falls, and was able to remount his machine and complete the stage.
Caldecott, the defending champion, has an overall time of 11-hrs 46-mins 44-secs, and holds a lead of 17-mins 29-secs over Stephen Greenfield of the Northern Territory on a Honda XR650. In stage three Caldecott was 5-mins 52-secs quicker than Greenfield.
"I'm disappointed with myself with all the crashes," said Caldecott. "I landed heavily in all of them, but luckily I didn't do any major damage to myself or the bike. The pace is quicker than last year and the guys at the front are on the limit."
American Casey McCoy retained third position on a Honda XR650, but South Australian Tony Tervoert, who began the stage in fourth position, dropped to 23rd after the frame was damaged on his Husqvarna TE6/OE. He remained in the service stop in Alice Springs for a lengthy period while his machine was repaired.
Briton Quinn Evans suffered lower back injuries when he crashed his Suzuki DR-Z400 after 95km of the final section. The 27-year-old from Grassington in North Yorkshire was taken by St. John's Ambulance to Alice Springs Hospital for x-rays and observation. Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter said Quinn's injuries were minor and his condition was comfortable.
The Safari continues tomorrow with a 557km stage from Tilmouth Well north to Wycliffe Well.
OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 3 -- Tuesday, August 21):
POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME
1. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 12:14.05
2. R. Nicastri (NSW)-S. Green (NSW) Nissan Patrol 12:15.22
3. T. Denham (NSW)-M. Denham (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 12:17.02
4. R. Owen (Vic)-R. Cairns (Vic) Nissan Patrol 12:38.32
5. S. Riley (Vic)-J. Doble (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 12:46.37
6. B. Muir (NT)-A. Muir (NT) Nissan Patrol 12:47.38
7. P. Brock (Vic)-J. Brock (Vic) Holden Jackaroo 13:08.45
8. D. Harringon (Vic)-B. Bennett (Vic) Nissan Patrol Ute 13:17.07
9. R. Gambino (NSW)-D. Lowe (NSW) Suzuki Grand Vitara 13:22.23
10. W. Ridge (NSW)-J. Ridge (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 13:34.22
POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME
1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 11:46.44
2. S. Greenfield (NT) Honda XR650 12:04.13
3. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 12:23.43
4. A. Coaker (Qld) KTM 660 Rallye 12:57.55
5. J. O'Neill (NT) Yamaha WR400 13:39.50
6. M. Carey (Vic) Honda XR650 13:39.57
7. S. Blackney (GB) Honda XR650 13:47.10
8. P. MacDonald (NSW) Honda XR650 13:47.51
9. Colin Ross (NT) KTM 640 13:51.49
10. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 13:59.05