Australian Safari course announced

New Prologue to Start 2001 Australian Safari THURSDAY, MAY 10: A new prologue event has been added to this year's Australian Safari to determine starting positions for the international cross country rally through the Northern Territory from ...

New Prologue to Start 2001 Australian Safari

THURSDAY, MAY 10: A new prologue event has been added to this year's Australian Safari to determine starting positions for the international cross country rally through the Northern Territory from August 19-26.

Clerk of Course Bob Carpenter announced course details today and said the 6km prologue would be held on the eastern outskirts of Alice Springs on August 18, the day before the start of timed competitive stages, and would be contested by all entrants in the motorcycle and auto divisions.

The introduction of the prologue is part of sweeping changes to the 2001 course over 4,300km from Alice Springs to Darwin, with four new overnight stops at Ayers Rock Resort, Kings Creek, Tilmouth Well, and Douglas Daly.

Carpenter said starting positions for the opening stage would be based on times recorded in the prologue by drivers in the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles and the new Rally Division, and riders in the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross Country Rallies World Cup, and International Moto Divisions.

Defending Auto Division champion Bruce Garland, who is chasing a fourth Safari win this year in a four-wheel-drive Holden Jackaroo, said he supported the prologue concept because it would provide variety in the event and would also be important in the opening stage the following day from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock Resort.

"Most days in the Safari are all about endurance, reliability, and battling the elements for long periods, so a 'rip and bust' sprint will be good because we can get stuck in and have a real go," said Garland.

"I'll be dead keen to win the prologue because it means that from day one you're starting first and you don't have to deal with the dust from cars in front which can slow you down."

Carpenter said the overnight stops and total distance of the event had been finalised during a three-week preliminary survey in the Northern Territory in January with Deputy Clerk of Course Jim Reddiex.

Overnight stops retained from the 2000 Safari include Wycliffe Well and Top Springs, and the event will again conclude with the sprint stage on Mindil Beach in Darwin.

"We're confident this is the best and most challenging course for competitors since the Safari began in 1985," said Carpenter.

Craig Fletcher, Motorsport Manager for Safari promoters Octagon Worldwide, said the changes to the course this year had been aimed to involve outback communities and provide them with associated economic benefits.

"This year we've decided to take the event to some new places to give more people an opportunity to see and be part of what is a unique event in Australian motorsport," said Fletcher.

Carpenter said he expected the timed competitive section of the course would comprise 2,794km over 23 stages.

"The first few days will probably be more sandy than last year, but as usual, we will provide a variety of surfaces and terrain for competitors," he said.

Carpenter and Reddiex will travel to the Northern Territory this Sunday to begin their final six-week survey of the course to finalise road books and precise distances and routes for each stage.

Octagon Worldwide is the sports marketing and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group, one of the world's largest marketing and communications groups. It's other motorsport events in Australia in 2001 included the Grand Prix Rally in Victoria in February and the Targa Tasmania rally in April. <pre> 2001 AUSTRALIAN SAFARI SCHEDULE

PROLOGUE -- AUGUST 18 Alice Springs

DAY 1 -- AUGUST 19 Alice Springs-Ayers Rock Resort

DAY 2 -- AUGUST 20 Ayers Rock-Kings Creek

DAY 3 -- AUGUST 21 Kings Creek-Tilmouth Well

DAY 4 -- AUGUST 22 Tilmouth Well-Wycliffe Well

DAY 5 -- AUGUST 23 Wycliffe Well-Top Springs

DAY 6 -- AUGUST 24 Top Springs-Douglas Daly

DAY 7 -- AUGUST 25 Douglas Daly-Darwin

DAY 8 -- AUGUST 26 Darwin/Mindil Beach

Total Distance:  4,300km (Approx)
Total Competitive:  2,794km (Approx)
Total Stages:  23

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About this article
Series Cross-Country Rally
Drivers Bruce Garland