Garland Asks For Police Help On Eve Of Australian Safari
FRIDAY, AUGUST 17: Defending Australian Safari champion Bruce Garland is seeking advice from Northern Territory Police over what action competitors should take in the coming week if they come into contact with the mystery man wanted in connection with the disappearance of British tourist Peter Falconio.
This year's 4,426km international cross-country rally for four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorcycles starts in Alice Springs tomorrow, and next Wednesday will pass near Barrow Creek where Falconio was believed to have been shot by a man who then unsuccessfully attempted to abduct British backpacker Joanne Lees and is still at large.
Garland, who spearheads the Holden Rally Team which also includes touring car legend Peter Brock, said he had requested Safari organisers to seek clarification from the Police on what steps to take if competitors were confronted by the wanted man, or they saw anyone acting suspiciously.
"Quite a few of us are concerned there could be someone lurking out in the bush while we're making our way up to Darwin, especially if they're armed," said Garland.
"It's a situation that can't be ignored, and we would like some direction on what to do if we see someone who looks a bit 'suss'. Maybe the Police could give us some of their identikit pictures so we have a better idea what this bloke looks like."
Safari Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter said he would raise the issue with Police in Alice Springs and brief the competitors on the response.
Carpenter said that the Safari's elaborate communication systems, which allow Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) and Very-High Frequency (VHF) radio contact between officials and competitors, would enable a swift reaction to any potential problems that might arise.
"We already have a proven communications set-up for safety purposes, and we've also got two Cessna aircraft and a helicopter circulating in the air who could chase down anyone pretty quickly," said Carpenter.
"I think we're in a good position to marshal our troops if we have to, both in the air and on the ground. Who knows -- we might be the ones to catch the mystery man."
Garland, who is chasing a record fourth Safari win, will start favourite in the Auto Division of this year's event in a Holden Jackaroo powered by a six-cylinder engine which generates an estimated 220kW. Brock will drive a production-model Jackaroo.
The majority of competitors, who also include 45 riders in the Moto Division, spent most of today completing documentation and scrutineering before tomorrow's 6km Prologue in Alice Springs to determine starting positions for the first stage over 775km to Ayers Rock Resort on Sunday.
The Federation International Motocycliste (FIM) Chief Steward at the Safari, Welshman Alan King, today praised the safety plan organised for the event. King is attending the Safari because the Moto Division is a round of the FIM cross country rallies World Cup series.