Desert King off the road
John Hederics is after his 10th title, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY
THE toughest motor racing in the country begins tomorrow with the Australasian Safari. Starting in Kalgoorlie, the week-long event covers 4300km of the West Australian Outback in a test for cars and crews.
Holden is leading the attack on the event with its revamped Colorado ute and defending Safari winner John Hederics.
The Colorado will be run by the PWR/Holden Rally Team. Team owner Kees Weel will be getting hands-on with the program and act as Hederics’ navigator.
The 55-year-old Weel is more famous these days in V8 Supercar circles, but has long ties to offroad racing. He won the Safari in 1995 when he was navigating Doug Manwaring, and he ran offroad races with his son Paul before they entered V8 Supercars.
‘‘John and I started this event together 11 years ago and I wanted to do the event again before I get too old,’’ Weel says.
The Colorado is an updated version of Hederics’ winning Rodeo from last year. It is powered by a V8 engine and its suspension has been improved to cope with the challenges thrown up by the WA terrain.
The Colorado also has improved fuel economy and a lower centre of gravity compared with last year’s winning machine.
‘‘The biggest challenge is the Outback terrain. It’s much tougher with bigger rocks and gutters, so there will be a greater emphasis on vehicle durability and the role of the navigator,’’ says Hederics, a nine-time winner of the event. But he’ll face strong competition to keep his title — 22 cars are in the auto division. Off-road racing stalwart Bruce Garland has entered in his Isuzu DMAX as part of his preparation for next year’s Dakar Rally. Targa Tasmania regular Tony Quinn is entered in a Mitsubishi Pajero.
Dust buster: John Hederics will try for his fourth straight Australasian Safari title in a Holden Colorado.