THURSDAY, JUNE 7: Terry Denham, runner-up in the Auto Division of the 2000 Australian Safari, is updating and modifying his Mitsubishi Pajero in a bid to topple three-times champion Bruce Garland and win this year's 4,300km international ...
THURSDAY, JUNE 7: Terry Denham, runner-up in the Auto Division of the 2000 Australian Safari, is updating and modifying his Mitsubishi Pajero in a bid to topple three-times champion Bruce Garland and win this year's 4,300km international cross-country rally through the Northern Territory in August.
Denham led the Auto Division for three days in 2000, before being slowed by three punctures, and he eventually finished in second place, 40-minutes and 40-seconds behind the Holden Jackaroo of fellow-NSW driver Garland.
"That was my best result in 13 starts in the Safari, and I'm keen to go one better and win it this year," said Denham.
"We ran the Pajero virtually stock-standard last year, apart from the suspension, but we've stripped it down to virtually nothing and we doing a lot of work so this should be our best chance."
The 50-year-old from Penrith, who operates a tubing manufacturing business, said improvements to his four-wheel-drive Pajero for the 2001 Safari from August 19-26 would include fitting a close-ratio gearbox, engine development, and reducing the weight by 200kg to 1,900kg.
"The close-ratio gearbox will give us more usable power, and the Pajero will be faster and lighter than last time," he said.
"This will be the best vehicle we've ever had in the Safari, performance-wise, and I don't think the improvements we're making will affect the reliability which is so important in an event like this."
As in 2000, his navigator over the 23-stage course from Alice Springs to Darwin will be his 29-year-old son Michael Denham.
Denham believes the new Safari rule which allows two daily service stops for competitors will prevent a repeat of him losing a total of 30-mins in the 2000 event with his series of punctures between Alice Springs and Darwin.
"The extra service stop in the middle of the day is a good move because if you have an early puncture or some other problem you can fix it sooner than before and not lose as much time," said Denham.
Denham, who drove the Pajero to victory in the Condobolin 750 off-road rally in NSW in April, said that tactics would be crucial in the outcome of this year's Safari.
"You have to judge your position relative to where everyone else is, and go hard or cruise according to the situation," he said.
"Last year when I lost the time with the punctures it meant Bruce (Garland) could take it easy, but if I had been closer he would have been forced to go harder and the result might have been different."
Other leading Auto Division drivers from the 2000 Safari among the confirmed entries for this year's event include Gold Coast driver Peter Lockhart in a Holden Jackaroo, Victoria's Des Harrington in a Nissan Patrol Ute, and NSW's Graeme Pfitzner in a Nissan. Lockhart finished third in 2000, while Harrington was fourth, and Pfitzner fifth.
This year's Safari also includes a new rally class for lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicles, and cars, and the Moto Division, which is round three of the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross Country Rallies World Cup series.
The Safari is being supported for the third successive year by the Northern Territory Government. It 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. Octagon's other motorsport events in Australia in 2001 included the Grand Prix Rally in Victoria in February and the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally in April.