AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY -- Sunday, September 1
DAY 8: Dubbo-Bathurst, NSW
Total distance: 232km. Competitive distance: 27km (2 stages)

CALDECOTT & GARLAND TAKE HONOURS IN AUSTRALIAN SAFARI RALLY

KTM rider Andy Caldecott could have earned himself a start in next year's prestigious Paris-Dakar off-road rally after winning a third successive Moto Division title in the Australian Safari international cross country event which finished today.

The 38-year-old South Australian won the 4,375km event over eight days in rural NSW with a consistent ride in the final stage from Dubbo to Bathurst, while Holden Rally Team Jackaroo racer Bruce Garland claimed a record fifth Safari victory in the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

KTM Australia Motorcycles General Manager Jeff Leisk, who travelled on the Safari, said he planned to discuss securing Caldecott a ride in the 2003 Paris-Dakar event when he visited the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer's headquarters in Mattighofen in two weeks.

"Andy has done a great job for KTM in the Safari, and I'm keen to see how we can support him with a chance to step up to the next level in the Paris-Dakar," said Leisk, a former international rider who finished runner-up in the 500cc motocross world championship in 1989.

Caldecott won the Safari with a total time in 25-hrs 4-mins 41-secs, finishing 25-mins 2-secs clear of second-placed Paul Sinderberry of NSW on a Honda, who was followed by KTM-mounted South African Alfie Cox.

"This year was the most satisfying of my three Safari wins, mainly because the field was top-quality," said Caldecott.

"I'd like to go and do the Paris-Dakar because it's the greatest challenge in this type of racing, and hopefully KTM can put together the package and support you need to have a decent shot at it."

Cox, runner-up in this year's Paris-Dakar, said he had no doubt Caldecott would be competitive if he raced in the 2003 event, which starts on January 1 and covers an 11,000km course over 21 days.

"From what I've seen over the past week Caldecott has the speed, experience, and navigation skills you need in the Dakar, plus he doesn't crack under pressure," said Cox.

Caldecott said the 2002 Safari course was vastly different to the route of his previous two triumphs when the event was held in the Northern Territory.

"The course was tighter this year and there was more emphasis on navigation," he said. "My tactics were to ride flat-out the first few days and we pulled a gap on the others, and then I took things carefully toward the finish to protect my position."

Swede PG Lundmark was fourth in the Safari on a KTM, and American Casey McCoy completed the top five on a Honda. For McCoy, it was his third straight top-five finish in three Safari starts since 2000. Cheryl Muldoon, the only women starter, finished 25th on a Yamaha WR250.

Garland finished the Safari with a winning time of 27-hrs 36-mins 33-secs, advantage of 15-mins 57-secs over second-placed Steve Riley in a Cashcard Mitsubishi Pajero. On the final stage Garland was 39-secs faster than Riley.

The win by Garland added to his previous victories in the event in 1996, 1999, 2000, and 2001. The 43-year-old from Sydney said it was difficult to compare his win this year with his previous successes.

"Every Safari is tough because it's relentless hard work for everyone involved," he said. "The thing that won it for us was being consistent every day and not making too many navigation mistakes. We had our share of dramas, like you always do, but we were able to keep pressing on."

"My team did a sensational job preparing and maintaining the Jackaroo. Reliability is the most important aspect of this event because the vehicles take a pounding from start to finish."

Riley said he was satisfied with second place, and believes the crucial factor in the outcome was the engine in his Pajero generated about 70kW less than Garland's Jackaroo.

"I can't complain because we drove as hard as we could and we didn't have any major mechanical problems," said Riley. "We did the best we could with what we had, but Bruce (Garland) had a quicker vehicle and that was the difference."

Moree cotton farmer Peter Glennie finished third in a Toyota Series RV, securing his first podium finish in the Safari since his debut in the event in 1988. He was followed by Mildura's John Hederics, who led the early stages, in a Nissan Patrol, and Victorian Andy Brown in a Holden Frontera.

Touring car legend Peter Brock finished in 11th position, 3-hrs 2-mins 57-secs behind Garland, in a production-based Jackaroo. The nine-times Bathurst 1000 champion was hampered throughout the Safari by a back injury, suffered in a 'Legends' go-kart race in Darwin the day before the event started.

"The pain was severe at times, but I kept telling myself to put it out of my mind," said Brock. "The bruising is starting to come out and things will get better in time."

Brock is returning to Melbourne for intensive treatment to ensure his fitness for his V8 Supercar Championship comeback in the Bathurst 1000 on October 13.

Craig Fletcher, Motorsports Manager of Safari promoters Octagon, said he was pleased with the organisation of the event, and the public interest and response at the start and finish at Bathurst, plus the overnight stops in Condobolin, Griffith, Wentworth, Broken Hill, White Cliffs, Cobar, and Dubbo.

"This was our first time the Safari has been held exclusively in New South Wales, so there were new challenges to overcome," said Fletcher. "Things went remarkably well considering the difficulties of moving hundreds of vehicles and people around some remote areas."

"Everywhere we went there was a warm welcome from 'locals' and I think we can build on this year to make the Safari even better next time."

Octagon is the global marketing-led sports and event marketing company. It offers worldwide expertise across all eight major sports and event marketing disciplines: athlete representation, consultancy, event management, property representation and sales, TV rights sales and distribution, TV production and archive, new media and licensing and merchandising. <pre> OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 8 - Sunday, September 1):

MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 25:04.41 2. P. Sinderberry (NSW) Honda XR650 25:29.43 3. A. Cox (Sth Africa) Red Bull KTM 660 Rallye 25:44.49 4. P. Lundmark (Sweden) KTM Rallye Replica 27:13.40 5. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 27:48.17 6. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 29:02.16 7. R. Runnalls (Vic) Suzuki DR-Z400 29:05.26 8. D. Schwarz (SA) Yamaha WR400 29:36.26 9. P. McDonald (Vic) Honda XR650 29:42.42 10. P. Baker (SA) Yamaha WR426 31:13.48

AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 27:36.33 2. S. Riley-J. Doble (Vic) Mitsubishi Pajero 27:52.30 3. P. Glennie-P. Clark (NSW) Toyota Series RV 28:02.38 4. J. Hederics (Vic)-K. Weel (Qld) Nissan Patrol 28:09.30 5. A. Brown-P. Styles (Vic) Holden Frontera 29:05.33 6. A. Stott-M. Davies (Vic) Nissan Patrol 29:12.04 7. T. Conner-P. Conner (Vic) Nissan Utility 29:51.44 8. R. Cremen-G. Comber (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 29:52.12 9. W. Ridge-J. Ridge (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 29:59.36 10. R. Owen-R. Cairns (Vic) Nissan Patrol 30:16.54

-www.australiansafari.com.au-