|Australasian Safari: Isuzu, Overdrive, Amarok, classic Nissan and some stars.|
Here we go: One of the best organized marathonrallies in the world - with definetely the best rally-catering worldwide - started this Friday with the official opening ceremony in Joondalup near the city of Perth in "Western Australia", the largest state in Australia.
This year, the starting field is even bigger and more international than in the past two years: 24 cars, 2 Side-by-Side, 6 quads / ATV and 57 motorcycles have gathered to rally "down under".
Especially in the car has been upgraded diligently. Isuzu has the largest entries: With the new D-Max pickup the factory-team from Australia with Dakar-legend Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki, two semi-factory teams from Thailand and a private team with the older D-Max from Australia.
"We want to be the first team winning the rally with a diesel-powered car," said Bruce Garland, who will also compete in the South America Dakar Rally 2013 again.
For the first time is also an Overdrive Toyota Hilux Pickup - and this is also a prominent vehicle: The team Nunzio Coffaro / Daniel Meneses from Venezuela comes with the former car of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, which made the third place at the SA-Dakar 2012 against the X-raid Mini All4 Racing.
"There are more and more Overdrive Toyota" reported local hero Geoff Oholm who still starts with his "Australia's car", a Mitsubishi Pajero V60 T1 with Chevrolet V8 engine. The Australian knows what he is talking about: For the Dakar 2013 he has also appointed a overdrive Toyota.
"That will be my new main car. It is done these days. Then I start in October for the first time on the NPO Morocco Rally, then the new car goes to South America for the Dakar 2013. After the Dakar, we want to bring the Toyota "home" to Australia, sitch off the air restrictor and the car will hopefully run more amazing!" Oholm revealed another secret: "According to my information, Overdrive has seven new customers - we will see. I think the cars are faster then the X-raid Mini - by less prices."
Another little highlight is new and black couloured: A Volkswagen Amarok Pickup T2 of the Australians Sam Beck and Chris Kenny. "Not only is the car is from Germany, also the suspension. We rely primarily on the original technique, only changed some security stuff, a double suspension in the rear and new single suspension in the front" said Beck. The technique is derived from Volkwagen 4-wheel-drive specialist "Seikel" from Hannover in Germany.
The remaining car-starting field consists mostly of Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Hilux, but the most (in T1) with big V8 engines. For colorful swabs there are also a U.S. built Ford F150 Protruck, an almost original Subaru Forester SUV and - yes, you read that right - a Nissan / Datsun 260Z classic sports car from 1975 - "just for fun".
In the motorbikes and quads, it is mainly a number of local variables and Dakar-starters. But Europe is better represented than before: Manuel Lucchese and Francesco Beltrami from Italy, Alex van Ginkel, Schimmel, Melchior van Heertum and Antal Verschuuren from Holland, Brett Cummings, Glen Grundy and Guy Henley from South Africa, Jason Adams and Michael Johnson from the U.S. and Craig Bounds and - as the only women riding - "Dakar Lady" Tamsin Jones from England.
On Saturday the Rally entourage of approximately 500 competitors, officials, administration, media and medics heads north to the coastal port city of Geraldton where a Prologue, or time trial, sets the pace for the rest of the race over the following seven days. This will be staged at the historic private property Glengarry Station, located approximately 20km east of Geraldton and locals are invited to spectate.
There’s approximately 3000 km of travel ahead. On Sunday, competitors have three competitive stages from Geraldton north to Kalbarri, on Monday (Leg 2) from Kalbarri to Carnarvon, Tuesday (Leg 3) from Carnarvon to the start of the Ningaloo Reef, Wednesday (Leg 4) from Carnarvon inland to Gascoyne Junction and the Kennedy Ranges, Thursday sees a looped course around the Ranges and finishing overnight again in Gascoyne Junction, Friday (Leg 6) heads south again to Kalbarri, Saturday (leg 7) down to Geraldton and the big finish.
Further details on the course cannot be revealed as competitors are not provided with road books and navigation maps until the night before each day’s racing. This is what makes Safari different, and a lot more challenging, from a standard rally.
One amateur motorbike competitor in this year’s Australasian Safari will live the dream with a free entry into Dakar, the world’s toughest motorsport event, thanks to an agreement between Australasian Safari and Dakar 2013.
The Australasian Safari has been selected as one of only four feeder events for the world’s most extreme and legendary offroad motorsport races. Eight riders are competing for this coveted prize and it has attracted riders from as far afield as The Netherlands and the USA.
2012/09/22 | 14:02 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PITTAWAY