WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27: Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM will supply Australian Safari champion Andy Caldecott with a 2001 works machine for his title defence in this year's international cross country rally through the Northern Territory in ...
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27: Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM will supply Australian Safari champion Andy Caldecott with a 2001 works machine for his title defence in this year's international cross country rally through the Northern Territory in August.
KTM Australia Manager Jeff Leisk said today the 660 Rallye model to be raced by Caldecott in the Safari would be built to similar specifications as its factory machines which secured the first three places in this year's prestigious Paris-Dakar rally.
"They only build 75 of these bikes and about 60 go into the factory's Dakar effort, but Andy won the Safari on a KTM last year and we want to give him the best chance to do it again," said Leisk.
The KTM for 37-year-old Caldecott is scheduled to arrive in Australia next month from the factory's base in Mattighofen, near Salzburg, and will feature high-performance White Power suspension, engine modifications, a carbon-fibre fuel cell, and purpose-built radiator and navigation equipment.
Caldecott, from Keith in South Australia, said KTM's support was a boost to his prospects of retaining the Moto Division title in this year's Safari over a 4,300km course between Alice Springs and Darwin from August 19-26.
"Winning the Safari last year was very satisfying, and it's good that KTM are getting behind me," said Caldecott. "This is one of the toughest races you can do, both physically and for the stress it puts on your bike, and there are plenty of Australian and overseas riders who are going make it hard for us."
The Moto Division doubles as a round of the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross Country Rallies World Cup, and Australian-based riders entered in the event include former 500cc grand prix rider Daryl Beattie and 1999 Safari winner Stephen Greenfield, both riding Honda XR650s.
Caldecott believes his new KTM will be suited to this year's course, which has been altered from 2000, and includes four different overnight stops at Ayers Rock Resort, Kings Creek, Tilmouth Well, and Douglas Daly.
"Traditionally the KTM is at its best on the flat-out stages through the middle part of the Safari, and hopefully we will be just as nimble as the others in the tighter, rocky sections in the first few days near Alice Springs," he said. "We won't really know until we get our hands on the new bike."
Caldecott's crew during the Safari will be boosted by the presence of KTM factory technician Lee Palmer, an Austrian-based Australian. The team will also include Wayne Woodberry from Race Motorcycles in Alice Springs, and South Australian Andrew Sellars, who assisted Caldecott in the 2000 Safari.
"We've got a good team with plenty of Safari experience, so I won't be lacking in that department," said Caldecott.
Leisk said the decision to supply Caldecott with a works machine was part of KTM's marketing and sales drive in Australia.
"The Safari is a good way for us to market the KTM brand in high-profile off-road competition," said Leisk.
Another experienced KTM rider entered in the Safari is West Australian Tim Fitzhardinge, riding a 2000-specification Rallye 660.
The Safari also includes the Auto Division for off-road four-wheel-drive vehicles, and a new Rally Division for cars and lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The Northern Territory Government is supporting the Safari for the third successive year. The event is owned and produced by Octagon Worldwide, the sports marketing and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group, one of the world's largest marketing and communications groups.