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Vodafone Australian Safari Race Report - Day 7

Caldecott, riding a KTM 660 Rallye, holds a lead of 2-hrs 9-mins 45-secs over McCoy going into tomorrow's final stage over 3km on Mindil Beach in Darwin. McCoy suffered a split lip and the front wheel on his Honda XR400 was buckled when he...

Caldecott, riding a KTM 660 Rallye, holds a lead of 2-hrs 9-mins 45-secs over McCoy going into tomorrow's final stage over 3km on Mindil Beach in Darwin.

McCoy suffered a split lip and the front wheel on his Honda XR400 was buckled when he crashed after colliding with a log in the early stages of today's 155km competitive section from Katherine to Darwin.

"It was a lack of concentration on my part," said McCoy. "I was going hard and I wasn't watching my map. When I came around a corner I hit the log and was flung over the handlebars. I landed heavily on my back and rolled. Something smashed into my helmet just above the chin-guard and it cut my lip. The wheel was buckled, but I kept going. The (tyre) was exposed so I was worried about a puncture, but it never happened."

Caldecott said his almost certain victory in the 4,067km event from Alice Springs to Darwin would erase the bitter memories of his 1999 Safari campaign when he was forced to retire while leading after crashing on the fifth day and suffering a shoulder injury. The 36-year-old from Keith was the quickest rider in today's stage, as he had been in the previous six days.

"Things couldn't have gone any better this year," said Caldecott. "It's the biggest result of my career and makes up for what happened last year. Every stage has been tough. When you're leading the pressure is on so it's a relief to finally be in Darwin."

South Australian Tony Tervoert retained third position on a Husqvarna, and West Australian Rob Polland remained fourth on a KTM. Former 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz is close to completing a satisfactory cross country rally debut by finishing the event in 13th position.

Sydney's Bruce Garland closed in on what would be a record third Auto Division Safari victory with navigator Harry Suzuki in a Holden Jackaroo. They lead by 45-mins and 34-secs ahead of the NSW father-and-son combination of Terry and Michael Denham in a Mitsubishi Pajero. Garland previously won the Safari in 1996 and again 12 months ago.

"Today we concentrated on the keeping the Jackaroo out of the scenery," said Garland. "We started the day with a good lead and it wasn't worth taking too many risks so close to the finish. There were some tricky swamps to get through, which was a change after the desert and rocks we've been racing on the last few days."

Victorians Robert Emmins and Bronwyn Humphrey continued their impressive performance in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and are on target to win the A1 Class for production four-wheel-drive vehicles and finish sixth outright.

"We've drove at 95-percent the first five days keeping it together, and toward the end some of the others started to fall to bits which I thought might happen," said Emmins. "I think we got the best possible performance out of the Jeep - a class win and sixth outright is a terrific result. Our only problem was a flat tyre between Top Springs and Katherine, but apart from that it's been good." <pre> OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 7 - Saturday, August 26):

AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 25:01.36 2. T. Denham (NSW)-M. Denham (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 25:47.10 3. P. Lockhart (Qld)-T. Donovan (Qld) Holden Jackaroo 27:30.00 4. D. Harringon (Vic)-G. Taylor (NSW) Nissan Patrol Ute 27:38.42 5. G. Pfitzner (NSW)-J. Campbell (NSW) Nissan GQ 27:57.13 6. R. Emmins (Vic)-B. Humphrey (Vic) Jeep Grand Cherokee 28:54.55 7. B. Muir (NT)-A. Muir (NT) Nissan Patrol 29:04.46 8. P. Glennie (NSW)-M. Roberts (NSW) Toyota Landcruiser 29:24.42 9. B. Land (U.S.)-T. Carpenter (Qld) Isuzu Jackaroo 32:28.09 10. G. Ridge (Vic)-B. Edwards (SA) Nissan Patrol 32:56.06

MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 25:08.11 2. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR400 27:17.56 3. T. Tervoert (SA) Husqvarna TE610E 27:29.29 4. R. Pollard (WA) KTM 640 Adventure 27:35.41 5. G. Hoffman (NSW) KTM 620 28:50.24 6. T. Kirby (NSW) Suzuki DR-Z400 29:10.20 7. S. Blackney (GB) KTM 660 Rallye 29:25.23 8. A. Roberts (NT) Honda XR400 29:46.46 8. C. Ross (NT) Honda XR650 29:47.22 10. P. Talintyre (NSW) KTM 640 Rallye 30:41.47 OTHER: 13. K. Schwantz (U.S.) Suzuki DR-Z400 32:45.06

Mike Porter mikep@qldnet.com.au

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