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Bruce Garland expands preparation for 2000 Australian Safari

THURSDAY, APRIL 13: Defending Australian Safari champion Bruce Garland today announced his preparation for this year's 5,000km international cross-country rally through the Northern Territory had been expanded to include two major events in...

THURSDAY, APRIL 13: Defending Australian Safari champion Bruce Garland today announced his preparation for this year's 5,000km international cross-country rally through the Northern Territory had been expanded to include two major events in the United States and Asia.

The 41-year-old Sydney endurance driver and regular navigator Harry Suzuki will contest the Nevada 2000 in the United States from July 8-15, and also the Asian Rally in Thailand over eight days in early August.

Garland said he and Suzuki would then return to Australia for their attempt to become the first three-times champions of the Safari, driving a Isuzu-General Motors backed Jackaroo in this year's event from August 20-27 over a course from Alice Springs to Darwin.

"It's going to be a hectic couple of months before the Safari, especially with the travel to America and Asia," said Garland.

"Some people may say we're trying to do too much, but the way I see it the extra racing will toughen us up for the Safari and improve our teamwork."

"It will also give us the chance to test the reliability of the Jackaroo under a variety of conditions, and that's essential when you're preparing for an event like the Safari."

Garland, the Safari champion in 1996 and 1999, had previously announced his pre-event preparation for this year's event would include driving a Jackaroo in the Condobolin 750 in New South Wales from April 22-23, and in the Finke Desert Race in the Northern Territory from June 10-12.

He said the only previous year he had undertaken such an extensive event program was in 1998 when he competed in the Round Australia Rally, and the Paris-Dakar, Dubai, and Finke endurance races.

"We've proved before we can handle it, and our team has the experience to cope with all these races," said Garland.

Garland said he would rotate his two race-prepared Jackaroos between the events he was contesting this year to ensure there was suffient time for maintenance and repaires.

"The vehicle we run in Safari will be the same one we use in the Finke race, and the other will do the 'Condo 750' and then be shipped to America for Nevada," he said.

Garland said Isuzu's Research and Development department in Japan was preparing two normally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 engines for his 2000 race program.

The Nevada event is part of the 'Best In The Desert (BITD) Silver State Series' and starts and finishes in Las Vegas. The course includes stages through the Mojave Desert, the Humboldt National Park, the Pony Express Trail, and Indian reservations.

"I've never raced in America before so Nevada is something I'm looking forward to, and Isuzu is obviously keen for us to get a good result in Asia." said Garland.

"By the time we get to the start line for the Safari we will be as well-prepared as we possibly can be."

The Safari is promoted by Octagon Motorsport and has three-year backing from the Northern Territory Government. The event is for four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorcycles, and is fully sanctioned by the world controlling Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM).

Mike Porter mikep@qldnet.com.au

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