Muldoon to lead women's charge in Australian Safari Rally.

Thursday, June 27: Cheryl Muldoon, a leader in the growth of women's off-road motorcycle racing, has accepted the toughest challenge of her career by entering this year's Australian Safari international cross country rally through rural NSW.

The 27-year-old university graduate from NSW's Central Coast will contest the Moto Division of the 4,312km Safari from August 24-September 1 on a four-stroke Yamaha WR250F.

Muldoon, a National Marketing Assistant at Yamaha Motor Australia, is the first female motorcycle rider to enter this year's Safari and will be making her debut in the event, which is owned and produced by global sports and event marketing company Octagon..

"Up to now the longest race I've done is a four-day enduro in Perth, which was less than 1,000km, so the Safari is going to be a big step up in terms of riding higher speeds and longer distances," she said.

"My aim is to make the most of the opportunity, enjoy the challenge, and try and make it to the finish. Fitness is important, so I'm going to the gym four times a week, and I'm riding bikes most weekends, either training or racing."

Muldoon began racing in 1998, soon after graduating from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Science degree, and this year she is competing in the Women's Motul Cup in the Thumper Nationals series.

"When I started racing I was often the only female there and I was riding against men, but now we've got our own women's series going with the Thumper Nationals and there are 14 of us," she said.

This year's 25-stage Safari starts and finishes in Bathurst, and includes overnight stops in Condobolin, Griffith, Wentworth, Broken Hill, White Cliffs, Cobar, and Dubbo.

Muldoon said the most difficult aspect of her Safari assault would a lack be a lack of experience with map-reading and navigation equipment.

"This is all new to me," she said. "I've never had to ride and read maps at the same time. The plan is to get hold of some maps and practice as much as I can."

"We are also going to fit a bigger fuel tank to the bike, probably around 22-litres, so I want to do some riding with the extra weight to get used to that."

"I've done some riding close to Bathurst, where there's lots of hills and thick sand, but not on any other parts of the Safari course."

YMA's General Manager Steve Cotterell said: "Yamaha is coming off a record year where we assumed No 1 position for sales in Australia, and the strong performance of our off-road bikes has been a key element of that success," said Cotterell.

"The Safari gives us the chance to show the all-purpose capabilities of the WR250F under the toughest conditions, and how our products can be enjoyed by enthusiasts and those wanting to race at all levels of competition."

The Moto Division of this year's Safari will be the fourth round of this year's Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross Country Rallies World Cup. Austrian manufacturer KTM has announced a two-man team comprising past winners Andrew Caldecott and Andy Hayden, both from South Australia.

Entries in the Safari's Auto Division for four-wheel-drive off-road vehicles include four-times champion Bruce Garland, leading the Holden Rally Team in a modified Jackaroo. His team-mates will include nine-times Bathurst champion Peter Brock in a production-version Jackaroo.

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.