Dakar champion to make Safari debut
One of the legends of endurance racing, five-time Dakar Rally Quad winner, Josef Machacek, will make his debut in the Australasian Safari, to be held in the Western Australian outback from August 1 to 8.
Fifty-two year old Machacek has been lured to the Safari, known as the "Dakar Downunder", after the Quad Bike category made its debut at the event last year.
The Czech Republic racer has built an impressive record over the past decade. He won the 1999 Desert Challenge before his unparalleled success in the Dakar Rally started in 2000. Victories in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007 and again in 2009 have made him the king of quad bikes in desert rallies.
Machacek won his fifth Dakar Rally by a margin of two hours and 34 minutes - a huge margin, even in desert racing.
He builds his own bike and runs his own small team, but that hasn't stopped him achieving incredible success over his long career. He was the 1982 World Motocross Champion, before switching to Quads in 1999.
Machacek will start as the pre-event favourite in Australia, despite this being his first visit to the event.
"Australia is the only continent I haven't visited," Machacek said. "This is my big new challenge - getting to know the people on this continent, the great outdoors, the animals, and your special race.
"The Dakar and long distance racing is my life," the oil company director added.
South African, Vicus Vanderventer, has been instrumental in promoting the event after his strong showing in last year's Safari, with international numbers expected to climb for the 2009 epic.
This year's Australasian Safari begins in the Western Australian capital, Perth, with a prologue on Saturday, August 1. The event proper starts the following day.
Auto, motorbike and quad bike competitors then face over 3500 kilometres of competition over seven days. The Safari will have overnight stops in Geraldton, Mt Magnet, Leonora and Laverton, before finishing in the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie on Saturday, August 8.