AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY - Saturday, August 25
DAY 7: Douglas Daly-Darwin
Total distance: 409km. Competitive distance: 130km (3 stages)
New Holden Team Poised For One-Two Finish
Sydney's Bruce Garland and touring car legend Peter Brock are poised to provide the new Holden Rally Team with a one-two finish in the 4,426km Australian Safari international cross country rally which finishes in Darwin tomorrow.
After today's seventh and penultimate stage, over 409km from Douglas Daly to Darwin, Garland held the lead in the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles with an overall time of 25-hrs 39-mins 40-secs in a modified Holden Jackaroo. The three-times Safari champion led by 54-mins 28-secs ahead of nine-times Bathurst 1000 champion Brock in a production-based Jackaroo.
The only driver within striking distance of the Holden pair is Victorian Des Harrington, who is third, 23-mins 28-secs behind Brock. Harrington led the opening stage, then dropped back because of differential problems with his Nissan Patrol Ute, and is now making a late charge.
Garland, whose team secured full Holden backing for the Safari, said he was pleased he and Brock had both successfully negotiated today's demanding stage.
"There were creek crossings, and fast and flowing swampy bits which can all lead to trouble if things go wrong," said Garland. "We also had to steer clear of the termite mounds -- they're rock hard and they will tear your wheel off. All things considered I'm pleased we're managed to maintain station with both cars at the front of the field. The aim tomorrow is to do the same again. If we could get a one-two for Holden it would be fantastic. But we haven't won anything yet!"
Brock believes his position and competitiveness against more powerful and modified vehicles is the result of him driving to the capabilities of his machine.
"I think we're probably surprised a lot of people that you can take a 'showroom' Jackaroo and run a good speed in one of the world's toughest and roughest events," said Brock. "I've been driving to what the conditions allow relative to the performance of my vehicle. You can't afford to get carried away. I can also say my vehicle gets through the creek crossings as good as anything out there."
The high attrition rate of this year's Safari, which started in Alice Springs on August 19, continued today with the forced retirement of Victorian Stephen Riley, who had been second after stage five, and fourth yesterday. His Mitsubishi Pajero was withdrawn because of an engine failure. Riley joined former Australian speedway champion Ross Nicastri (Nissan Patrol) and Alice Springs drive Bruce Muir (Nissan Patrol) among the frontrunners forced out in the past 48 hours.
In the Moto Division, South Australia's Andrew Caldecott further extended his lead to 53-mins 26-secs over Northern Territory rival Stephen Greenfield. Caldecott, riding a factory KTM Rally 660, has an overall time of 24-hrs 8-mins 20-secs.
Honda-mounted Greenfield continues to be followed by London-based Queenslander Andrew Coaker on a KTM Rallye 660, and American Casey McCoy on a Honda XR650.
Caldecott conceded he would not take undue risks in the final stage because he was determined to win the Safari for a second successive year.
"Tomorrow is all about riding to the finish -- if we can do that then it should be enough to win," said Caldecott. "Most of the hard work has been done, so tomorrow we should be able to get out there and just enjoy the riding. We had another good run today, getting through the creek crossings and missing the termite hills." <pre>
OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 7 - Saturday, August 25):
AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 25:39.40 2. P. Brock (Vic)-W. Webster (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 26:34.08 3. D. Harringon (Vic)-B. Bennett (Vic) Nissan Patrol Ute 26:57.36 4. W. Ridge (NSW)-J. Ridge (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 27:39.07 5. T. Denham (NSW)-M. Denham (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 27:46.04 6. P. Lockhart (Qld)-T. Donovan (Qld) Mitsubishi Pajero 28:21.38 7. S. Bates (SA)-D. Ahola (SA) Mitsubishi Triton 31:27.54 8. B. Land (U.S.)-P. Connolly (Vic) Isuzu Jackaroo 29:41.36
MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 24:08.20 2. S. Greenfield (NT) Honda XR650 25:01.46 3. A. Coaker (Qld) KTM 660 Rallye 25:55.39 4. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 26:39.23 5. J. O'Neill (NT) Yamaha WR400 27:32.10 6. M. Carey (Vic) Honda XR650 27:34.55 7. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 27:41.10 8. C. Ross (NT) KTM 640 27:54.11 5. P. MacDonald (NSW) Honda XR650 28:07.48 10. D. Schwarz (SA) Yamaha WR250 28:23.43