TUESDAY, JUNE 11: Plans are underway for touring car legend Peter Brock to drive two laps of the Mount Panorama circuit before the start of this year's Australian Safari international cross country rally through rural NSW to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his first Bathurst 1000 win.
The nine-times Bathurst champion is contesting the rally from August 24-September 1 in a Holden Rally Team Jackaroo, and will be honoured when he returns to the circuit which made him famous.
Global sports marketing company Octagon, owners and producers of the 4,312km rally, today announced it had commenced negotiations with NSW Police for Brock to drive around the 6.2km Mount Panorama circuit in a solo parade lap on August 25, before the start of the opening stage, and then do another lap immediately afterwards leading the entire field of four-wheel-drive vehicles and off-road motorcycles.
Brock, who won Australia's 'Great Race' at Mount Panorama for the first time in 1972 in a Holden Torana, will then lead the Safari competitors from the circuit through the centre of Bathurst to the start.
"It's a great idea and it's going to be fantastic," said Brock. "There will be so many memories come flooding back -- the run up Mountain Straight, over Skyline, and out of Forest Elbow for the long haul down Conrod (Straight)."
"I know just about every piece of that track. It's been a fabulous part of my life. I can't believe it's 30 years since I won Bathurst in the Torana -- you drove the full race by yourself in those days."
Octagon's General Manager of Motorsport, Craig Fletcher, said the parade laps would be controlled under Police supervision and would provide additional impetus for the start of the rally, which is being held exclusively in NSW for the first time, after being in the Northern Territory the past three years.
"It's going to be a real spectacle seeing all the Safari off-road vehicles and bikes going across the top of the Mountain," said Fletcher.
"We feel it's appropriate to honour Peter Brock because he has contributed so much to Bathurst. Importantly, the parade lap for the full field will also provide our overseas competitors with the opportunity to experience first-hand one of the most famous race-tracks in the world."
The 25-stage rally, the first of three annual events supported by the NSW Government, starts and finishes in Bathurst, and includes overnight stops in Condobolin, Griffith, Wentworth, Broken Hill, White Cliffs, Cobar, and Dubbo.
Brock is contesting this year's Safari in a production-based Showroom Class Jackaroo, similar to the four-wheel-drive vehicle in which he finished runner-up in the 2001 rally. There are six classes in the Auto Division.
The 57-year-old is part of the works-supported Holden team spearheaded by four-times Safari champion Bruce Garland, who is preparing three Jackaroos for the event. Garland will drive a 260kW modified model, with Brock and part-time V8 Supercar driver Nathan Pretty in production-based versions.
Brock said he would soon be taking delivery of his Safari Jackaroo to fine-tune it to his liking.
"We will probably adjust the suspension and have a general good look over it," he said. "Last year we had some fuel system problems so we want to make sure that is working properly, as well as do some trial runs to see what it is capable of."
The Moto Division of this year's Safari will be the fourth of six rounds in the 2002 Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross-Country Rallies World Cup.
Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM has already announced an expanded two-man team for the Safari comprising South Australians Andy Caldecott and Andy Hayden on 660 Rallye machines. Caldecott won the Safari the past two years for KTM, while Hayden was first in 1997. Hayden was also third in the Paris-Dakar rally in 1998, the only Australian to finish on the podium in the event.
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.
Octagon is part of The Interpublic Group (NYSE:IPG), the world's largest advertising and marketing communications group. The Interpublic Group is the only marketing communications and services group with a global sports marketing capability. Octagon employs over 1,500 people in 24 countries on all major continents. For further information please visit: http://www.octagon.com