WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9: Moving the Australian Safari along its 4,067km course through the Northern Territory later this month will be a massive logistical operation, according to Competition Director and Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter. He said...
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9: Moving the Australian Safari along its 4,067km course through the Northern Territory later this month will be a massive logistical operation, according to Competition Director and Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter.
He said the event from August 20-27 required organising transportation for officials and their vehicles, ambulances and safety equipment on the ground and in the air, refuelling, communication services, and setting up temporary headquarters at overnight stops between the start at Alice Springs and the finish in Darwin.
Carpenter, who has been involved with the Safari since its inception in 1985, said careful planning was required to ensure the best possible support for the 24 Auto Division teams and 35 motorcycle riders and their crews, and ensure the event maintained its intended schedule and operated efficiently.
"There is something like 400 people involved in the Safari, including more than 120 officials, and moving them through some of the outback of Australia is no easy task," said Carpenter. "The attention to detail required is immense because you have to plan for every possible outcome in conditions that are both remote and difficult."
Equipment and personnel on the 2000 Safari include:
# 2 Safety Vehicles operating one to two hours ahead of the field to check the course
# 2 Sweep vehicles operating behind the field checking on competitors
# 3 Recovery Vehicles to pick up vehicles and motorcycles that have broken down and transport them to the next overnight stop
# 3 Northern Territory St John's Ambulances with paramedics
# 1 Jet Ranger helicopter to carry Clerk of Course, Medivac facilities and paramedic
# 2 Cessna aircraft equipped with Ultra High Frequency radio equipment that can be contacted by all competitors and officials
# 40 officials manning Safety, Sweep, and Recovery vehicles
# 24 control officials operating in eight teams of three to man time controls at start and finish of each stage.
# 50 officials travelling in trucks and other vehicles for event administration, merchandising, and erecting and dismantling temporary medical and headquarters facilities at each overnight stop
# 70 Service Vehicles attached to teams with support crews and equipment.
# 59 entrants - 24 in Auto Division and 35 in Moto Division
Carpenter said strict guidelines had been established to cover the possibility of serious injuries or illness during the event.
"In most instances the helicopter would be first on the scene, and it can pick up and take the injured person to one of the ambulances which offers full paramedic care," he said.
"If there was a serious spinal injury, for example, people can be moved by air to hospitals in either Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek, or Darwin. The Cessnas are equipped to carry stretchers."
Carpenter said service crews would accompany the event with fuel for the helicopter and aircraft attached to the event.
He said the planning of the course, which includes 2,422km in 24 competitive stages, had ensured all fuel stops for competitors would be at designated roadhouses and fuel stations. Catering for officials, competitors and their crews had been organised in conjunction with 'locals' at each overnight stop.
The Safari is promoted by Octagon Motorsports, with backing from the Northern Territory Government, and is sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM).
Octagon Motorsports Manager Craig Fletcher said the planning and infrastructure for the Safari would move to a higher level in 2001 when the Moto Division of the event was included on the FIM's Cross Country Rallies World Cup.
"Being part of the World Cup means we will have all the leading manufacturers and riders from overseas in the Safari and the whole event will move up a gear," said Fletcher.