Defending Australasian Safari champion, John Hederics, will start the 2008 event as the hot favourite to take the automotive title after confirming his entry in this year’s outback marathon.

Hederics, who was the first car home by a massive margin of over one hour in 2007, will drive a new Holden Colorado for the PWR Holden Rally Team in the Australasian Safari, which starts in Kalgoorlie on August 23.

The Colorado has a lower centre of gravity and more fuel capacity than last year’s Rodeo, and Hederics believes that he will again be in with a chance of victory.

“We had a great package last year, and I think we’ve improved on that for this year’s event,” the Mildura farmer said. “We’ve also played around with the suspension and refined the car, so we’re confident of doing well.”

“But as I keep saying to people, off-road rallying is a totally mechanical sport, and any one of a thousand small parts could let you down at the worst possible time, and cost you victory.”

PWR Holden Rally Team owner, Kees Weel, will sit in the left hand seat as Hederics’ co-driver for this years’ Safari. A competitor of some note himself, Weel will add to that ‘refined package’ as they take on some of the best off-road drivers in the country.

Although he’ll start as the favourite as he attempts to win a record tenth Australasian Safari, Hederics knows there are plenty of drivers eager to take the title from him.

“There are any number of guys with the package that makes them capable of winning the event. Bruce Garland, Reg Owen, Peter Glennie and Steve Riley will all be hard to beat.”

“But the biggest challenge of the event is always the outback itself. Just finishing every day when the terrain is so tough is very difficult,” he added.

In preparation The PWR Holden Rally Team will test the new Colorado on Hederics’ property at Mildura, in Victoria’s Mallee.

“We’re lucky because the terrain in Mildura is quite similar to that of southern Western Australia, where parts of the Safari go,” he said.

“I’ve got 500 hectares, and my property backs on to another property that’s about 40,000 hectares, so there’s plenty of room for testing the car in conditions that are very similar to the Safari stages.”

Hederics, himself, trains for the gruelling 3500km event by cycling, but says that his day-to-day job as a farmer ensures that he’s physically fit and ready for this year’s event.

He’ll need to be too. With seven days of competition in what is Australia’s roughest and toughest rally, competitors in the Australasian Safari will need to be able to withstand just about anything that the Western Australian outback throws at them.

After starting in the goldmining city of Kalgoorlie on Saturday, August 23, the the Australasian Safari visits Sandstone, Meekatharra, Mt Magnet and Geraldton, before finishing in Perth on Saturday, August 30.

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