Greenfield ready to lead Honda assault on Australian Safari Rally.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31: Former Australian Safari champion Stephen Greenfield will spearhead Honda's bid to end two years domination of the event by rival motorcycle manufacturer KTM in next month's international cross country rally through NSW.
Greenfield, who won the Safari's Moto Division in 1999, will ride a modified Honda XR650 in the 2002 rally over a 4,375km course from August 24-September 1.
The 33-year-old from Alice Springs heads a four-man Honda team against pre-race favourites KTM, whose squad includes South African Alfie Cox, runner-up in the Paris Dakar rally in January, and South Australians Andy Caldecott, Safari winner the past two years, and 1997 champion Andy Hayden.
"KTM blew everyone off in the last couple of years and they look strong again, but I like competition and the Honda team are determined to try and beat them," said Greenfield.
"Our aim is to have a trouble-free run and finish every day, and if we do that then we should be around the pointy end of the field at the end."
The Safari, which is owned and produced by global sports and event marketing company Octagon, starts and finishes in Bathurst and has overnight stops in Condobolin, Griffith, Wentworth, Broken Hill, White Cliffs, Cobar, and Dubbo.
Greenfield believes his Michelin-shod four-stroke Honda will be more competitive against the KTM Rallye 660 machines this year, compared to the XR650 he rode to second place behind Caldecott in the 2001 Safari through the Northern Territory.
"This year we've improved the engine performance to give us more speed and acceleration, and we've done plenty of testing to make sure we haven't sacrificed any reliability," he said.
Greenfield has been preparing for the Safari with lengthy riding stints near Alice Springs on a XR650 fitted with a 28-lire fuel tank, the same size as on his Safari machine and more than double the capacity of the production unit.
"The extra fuel means you're carrying another 20kg and that affects the handling characteristics of the bike, so we've been playing around with the suspension and getting the best set-up we can," he said.
"Our preparation is much better this year. We had some issues last year with exhaust systems, radiators, and vibration, mostly through lack of development beforehand."
"I haven't raced in NSW before so it's all going to be new to me, but the other people in the team have plenty of experience riding in 'local' conditions and they know what types of terrain we will come across."
Greenfield, who finished second in the Finke Desert Race in June, will be joined in the Honda-Michelin-O'Neal-GHR Team for the Safari by NSW's Paul Sinderberry on an identical machine, Victorian Peter MacDonald on a XR650L, and Australasian Dirt Bike editor Andy Wigan on a production model.
The four machines are being prepared by NSW-based Glenn Hoffmann Racing, and the team is supported by Honda Australia.
Sinderberry is a two-times Condo 750 champion with wins this year in the Sunraysia Cross Country Rally and Western Plains Cross Country Rally.
The Safari also includes the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Entries include the Holden Rally Team, led by four-times winner Bruce Garland in a modified Jackaroo, while multiple Bathurst 1000 champion Peter Brock will drive a production model. There are five entries in the Auto Division from the Netherlands, including three-times European champion Phillip Soeterboek in a Mitsubishi Pajero.