AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY - Saturday, August 31
DAY 7: Cobar-Dubbo, NSW
Total distance: 595km. Competitive distance: 326km (4 stages)
Glennie on target for first podium finish in Australian Safari.
Moree cotton farmer Peter Glennie is on target for his long-awaited first top-three podium finish in the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles in the Australian Safari international cross country rally.
Glennie is driving a Toyota Series RV in this year's 4,375km rally, and holds third position going into tomorrow's eighth and final stage from Dubbo to Bathurst.
The 58-year-old made his Safari debut in 1988, and to date his best results were finishing fourth in 1990 and again five years later.
Glennie concedes he has virtually no chance of overhauling leader Bruce Garland, driving a Holden Rally Team Jackaroo, or second-placed Steve Riley in a Mitsubishi Pajero, but said he was determined to claim the final position on the podium in Bathurst after tomorrow's 232km stage.
"I've been doing the Safari for more years than I care to remember, and for me getting on the podium would be very satisfying," he said. "My Toyota was build in '95 so it's older than most of the others up in the front positions, and I do most of the preparation and maintenance myself."
Glennie said today's seventh and penultimate stage over 595km from Cobar to Dubbo had been his most difficult of the event to date.
"I had four flat tyres out there so that slowed me down," he said. "There were a lot of rocks and stumps and if you went off the tracks there were plenty of things to hit. I don't think anything will change tomorrow so it's going to be a tough run to the finish."
Garland, the defending champion and a four-times winner, leads the with an overall time of 27-hrs 11-mins 1-secs. Leongatha farmer Steve Riley remained second in a Cashcard Mitsubishi Pajero, and is 15-mins 18-secs behind Garland, followed by Glennie, and Mildua's John Hederics in a Nissan Patrol.
Riley was 1-min 44-secs quicker than Garland in today's stage, but admitted he faced a difficult task beating his arch-rival unless he made a mistake or the Jackaroo had mechanical problems.
"We've given it our best shot from day one and thrown everything at Bruce (Garland)," said Riley. "It's a class field and second would be a good result if that's where we finish. At the same time it's one place back from where we want to be so we will keep going tomorrow and see what happens."
South Australia's Andy Caldecott retained the lead in the Moto Division with a time of 24-hrs 40-mins 39-secs on a KTM 660 Rallye. He holds an advantage of 25-mins 4-secs over Honda-mounted NSW rider Paul Sinderberry, with South African Alfie Cox third on a Red Bull KTM.
Cox, who began today's stage 4-mins 22-secs behind Sinderberry, challenged for second position in the early sections, but then lost time when he crashed.
There were a spate of accidents today, with NSW Auto Division competitor Wade Dennis rushed to Dubbo Base Hospital where he is in a stable condition with neck injuries. The 27-year-old from Uranquinty was navigating in this year's event in a Holden Jackaroo driven by American Bob Land.
Dennis was injured when the vehicle crashed into a tree near Eremaran, and was treated at the accident site soon after the incident by Safari Medical Officer Dr Roger Warne, before being transported to hospital by helicopter and then by an NSW Ambulance Service vehicle.
Dr Warne said that Dennis had suffered no loss of feeling in his arms or legs, but would remain in hospital for extensive x-rays overnight before a decision was made on whether he would stay in Dubbo or be moved to a specialist spinal unit in Sydney.
Japanese motorcycle rider Masato Morimoto crashed his Honda and was also taken to hospital with bruised ribs, but x-rays revealed no broken bones. West Australia's Tim Fitzhardinge crashed his KTM and suffered bruising around and eye and the loss of teeth. However, he quickly resumed riding and is in sixth position.
Late last night Wagga driver Lindsay Collits was fined $2,750 by CAMS stewards after pleading guilty to a charge which included "using or offering violence" after an incident also involving Dutch competitor Phillip Soeterboek during yesterday's stage between White Cliffs and Cobar.
Safari Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter said that Collits claimed "mitigating circumstances" as a reason for his actions. Carpenter said that Collits was understood to have followed Soeterboek's Pajero for more than 80km in dust, and that he made continual requests by radio for Soeterboek to allow him to pass. Collits continued in the rally today, starting the stage in 12th position and finishing 11th.
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AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 27:11.01 2. S. Riley-J. Doble (Vic) Mitsubishi Pajero 27:26.19 3. P. Glennie-P. Clark (NSW) Toyota Series RV 27:37.03 4. J. Hederics (Vic)-K. Weel (Qld) Nissan Patrol 27:42.45 5. A. Brown-P. Styles (Vic) Holden Frontera 28:39.02 6. A. Stott-M. Davies (Vic) Nissan Patrol 28:45.35 7. T. Conner-P. Conner (Vic) Nissan Utility 29:24.56 8. W. Ridge-J. Ridge (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 29:32.45 9. R. Owen-R. Cairns (Vic) Nissan Patrol 29:47.20 10. P. Brock (Vic)-W. Webster (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 30:13.24
MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 24:40.39 2. P. Sinderberry (NSW) Honda XR650 25:05.43 3. A. Cox (Sth Africa) Red Bull KTM 660 Rallye 25:18.44 4. P. Lundmark (Sweden) KTM Rallye Replica 26:48.30 5. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 27:21.55 6. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 28:33.46 7. R. Runnalls (Vic) Suzuki DR-Z400 28:39.04 8. D. Schwarz (SA) Yamaha WR400 29:10.45 9. P. McDonald (Vic) Honda XR650 29:17.47 10. P. Baker (SA) Yamaha WR426 30:43.46