Germans Boost Australian Safari Entries
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8: Germans Thomas Hoepfner and Michael Schuh have boosted the number of overseas motorcycle rider entries to 13 for this month's Australian Safari international cross-country rally through the Northern Territory.
Hoepfner, 25, will ride a KTM 660 Rallye while 22-year-old Schuh will compete on a CCM 604 in the Safari from August 19-26 over a course from Alice Springs to Darwin.
The Safari entries were announced today by Craig Fletcher, Motorsport Manager for Octagon Worldwide, owners and producers of the event, and he was pleased to report the Moto Division had attracted 45 starters, an increase of 12 on the 2000 race won by South Australia's Andrew Caldecott.
Other leading overseas riders entered in the Moto Division, which is a round of the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) cross country rallies World Cup, include American Casey McCoy, runner-up in the Safari 12 months ago, and Dubai-based Briton Steve Blackney on Honda XR650s.
Hoepfner, from Nettetal, and Taufhirchen-based Schuh have previously competed in the annual United Arab Emirates (UAE) Challenge World Cup round, as has Blackney, one of three British riders entered, along with North Yorkshire brothers Adam and Quin Evans, riding Suzuki DR-Z400s.
The remaining seven overseas entries are from Japan ^Ö Mamezoh Fukuhara, Huey Yada, Tsunetaka Kataoka, Noriyuki Kawata, Taketomi Murakami, and Satoru Uchimura, all riding Suzukis, and Kazuhito Matsubara on a Honda. They will compete in the International Moto Division, alongside the World Cup riders over a slightly shorter course.
"Motorcycle entries are up considerably, which reflects the ongoing growth of the Safari," said Fletcher.
"We have a good mix of overseas riders who will take it right up to some of Australia's best two-wheel talent."
The Australian entries include Caldecott and British-based Queenslander Andrew Coaker, both riding KTM 660 Rallye machines, and 1999 Safari champion Stephen Greenfield from the Northern Territory and former 500cc grand prix racer Daryl Beattie on Michelin-ONeill Honda XR650s.
There are 20 entries in the Auto Division, 16 of them in five categories who will compete over the entire Safari course, and the other four will contest the newly-created Marathon Rally event for lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicles and cars on a shorter route.
Heading the Auto Division entries is the new Holden Rally Team, with two four-wheel-drive Jackaroos. They will be raced by defending Safari champion Bruce Garland, who is chasing a record fourth win in the event with co-driver Harry Suzuki, and nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock with son James.
NSW's Terry Denham, who led the Safari in 2000 before finishing runner-up to Garland, is entered in an updated Mitsubishi Pajero, along with Holden Jackaroo driver Peter Lockhart, from the Gold Coast, who is aiming for a second successive podium finish after his third place 12 months ago. Bruce and Alex Muir from Alice Springs will represent the Northern Territory in the Auto Division, driving a Nissan Patrol.
The World Cup riders and the bulk of the Auto Division teams will cover a course comprising a total distance of 4,426km, of which 2,605km is in 24 competitive stages. International Moto riders have been set a 23-stage course with 200km less of competitive riding. The Marathon Rally teams will drive a total of 3,858km with 1,235km in 22 competitive stages.
This year's event will begin with a 6km Prologue in Alice Springs on August 18, and results will determine the starting order for the opening stage the following day to Ayers Rock Resort.