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With exactly 50 days (from July 4) until the start of Australian Safari in Kununurra on August 24, event organisers are celebrating with the announcement that eight-time Safari winner, John Hederics, has added his name to the starting list.

Hederics, who has won Australian Safari an amazing eight times - six on a motorbike and two in a car - will lead the PWR Holden Rally Team entry.

The Mildura-based driver will be behind the wheel of the Holden Rodeo that took him to glory in 2004, the last time the Australian Safari was contested.

But while he will be in a familiar vehicle, he will be in totally new surrounds, as 2007 marks the first time that Australian Safari will be held in Western Australia.

“It will be totally new - new terrain, new course, and new people running the event - so there’s going to be a lot of different things that we are going to have to learn,” Hederics said.

“It’s going to be tough - rocky, and sandy. It’s going to have everything mixed into it. We are just going to have to take it one day at a time and take it easy.”

Event director, Justin Hunt, is delighted that Hederics, a legend of Australian Safari, will be back to defend his title.

“We’ve got a great field building, but it is really significant to have someone of John’s stature, with the backing of the PWR Holden Racing Team, coming along to compete.”

“We are up over 80 entries, bikes and cars combined, so that is really pleasing. We’ll have competitors from Dubai, USA, England, Scotland, China and Papua New Guinea joining a big Australian contingent.

“Both bike and car competitions are wide open, and with a lot of locals from Western Australia signing up, we could be in for a big surprise.

Hederics agrees the event is wide open but knows that the first thing he must beat is the course itself.

“The greatest challenge is the course - it’s the outback. It’s getting through every day and that’s the greatest challenge of any outback event.”

“But there are a few guys out there who are going to be tough to beat. Rob Emmins is a really good competitor, there’s also Reg Owen, who’s always competitive, and there’s all these new people coming in from WA with some local knowledge.

Hederics believes many traps will lie in the first few days of competition as the event heads out of Kununurra and takes in Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Port Hedland and Newman.

“Basically the start of the Safari is going to be the toughest bit of the event and the first half of the course is where the country is going to be the toughest - going down through the Pilbara, the rock and stuff.”

“Also, everyone has a lot of adrenalin at the start of an event, so it’s just controlling yourself and taking care of yourself at the start. I think we will finish well if we get ourselves through that first half.”

Having been in twelve Safaris, Hederics knows what it will take for him to be at the finish in Perth on September 1.

“We try hard at being consistent, and that’s the name of competing Safari, just being there and being consistent and it all falls into place. If you do your homework before you leave and your machine is prepared – it seems to work well.”

Entries for Australian Safari close on July 27, with details on the event website; www.australiansafari.com.au
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