VODAFONE AUSTRALIAN SAFARI - Wednesday, August 23
DAY 4: Alice Springs-Wycliffe Well
Total distance: 665km. Competitive distance: 431km (3 stages)
South Australian rider Andrew Caldecott today coped best dodging anthills and mastering variable terrain to take a stranglehold on the Moto Division of the Vodafone Australian Safari international cross country rally through the Northern Territory.
The 36-year-old from Keith, who is racing a KTM 660 Rallye, emerged a convincing winner in the 431km competitive course from Alice Springs to Wycliffe Well and extended his lead to 1-hr 16-mins 8-secs over second-placed Casey McCoy of the United States on a Honda XR400. Caldecott began the fourth day leading by 44-mins 14-secs, and extended his advantage by a further 31-mins 54-secs at the halfway stage of the 4,067km Safari, which finishes in Darwin on August 27.
"Today wasn't easy because the anthills were a nightmare," said Caldecott. "Some of them were covered by long grass and you couldn't see them. I knocked back my speed in places because if you hit one of those things they can bring you down. The final stage today was fast and a lot of fun - I had the rear wheel spinning in the sand at 130-km/h in places."
Caldecott said that despite his position he was not over-confident because he had led the 1999 Safari at the same stage before crashing on day five and he was forced to withdraw with shoulder injuries.
"We're in with a good chance, but there are still a thousand-and-one things that can go wrong," he said.
McCoy, who is making an impressive Safari debut, conceded that he needed Caldecott to suffer either a mechanical problem or crash to close the gap.
"The race is there for Andrew (Caldecott) to take, unless he loses it," said McCoy. "I'm getting everything out of my bike, and I'm hoping for some more tight sections because that's my best chance to catch up."
Former 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz, also riding in the Safari for the first time, slipped back from 11th to 12th on his Suzuki DR-Z400.
"I hit a couple of anthills out there and it almost lifted the front wheel back over my head, but I managed not to crash," he said.
Darwin teenager Andrew Roberts suffered a dislocated shoulder toward the finish. He was treated by St John's Ambulance personnel and resumed racing and completed the section.
NSW's Bruce Garland took the lead in the Auto Division for the first time in this year's Safari in the Holden Jackaroo he is sharing with navigator Harry Suzuki. The defending champions began the section 2-mins and 9-secs behind the NSW father-and-son team of Terry and Michael Denham in a Mitsubishi Pajero, and finished with a lead of 24-mins and 20-secs.
"We caught Terry (Denham) after about 40km, but we had to follow them for a long time because of the dust," said Garland. "Then we saw them go into some bushes and they had a puncture. It gave us the chance and we never looked back. Now we're in front we can stop driving like lunatics."
The Denhams were delayed by three punctures today and dropped to second. The Toyota Landcruiser driven by Peter Glennie slipped from third to fourth because of differential problems.
<pre> OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 4 - Wednesday, August 23):
AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 16:36.15 2. T. Denham (NSW)-M. Denham (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 17:00.35 3. D. Harringon (Vic)-G. Taylor (NSW) Nissan Patrol Ute 17:49.21 4. P. Glennie (NSW)-M. Roberts (NSW) Toyota Landcruiser 18:01.25 5. P. Lockhart (Qld)-T. Donovan (Qld) Holden Jackaroo 18:13.44 6. G. Pfitzner (NSW)-J. Campbell (NSW) Nissan GQ 18:42.10 7. R. Gambino (NSW)-D. Lowe (NSW) Suzuki Grand Vitara 18:49.16 8. T. Pinson (NSW)-R. Lewis (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 19:12.42 9. R. Emmins (Vic)-B. Humphrey (Vic) Jeep Grand Cherokee 19:23.36 10. B. Muir (NT)-A. Muir (NT) Nissan Patrol 19:43.02
MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 16:34.29 2. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR400 17:50.37 3. T. Tervoert (SA) Husqvarna TE610E 18:14.51 4. R. Pollard (WA) KTM 640 Adventure 18:39.27 5. S. Blackney (GB) KTM 660 Rallye 19:14.01 6. G. Hoffman (NSW) KTM 620 19:17.52 7. T. Kirby (NSW) Suzuki DR-Z400 19:33.46 8. A. Roberts (NT) Honda XR400 19:47.43 9. C. Ross (NT) Honda XR650 19:26.46 10. D. Auricht (NT) Yamaha TTR250 20:33.35 11. P. Talintyre (NSW) KTM 640 Rallye 20:38.41 12. K. Schwantz (U.S.) Suzuki DR-Z400 20:51.17