Three-car Chinese team for Australasian Safari
- 24th July 2009, 3:32pm
The Australasian Safariâ€™s international reputation has received a major boost with a three-car team from China arriving for the event to be held in Western Australiaâ€™s outback from August 1 to 8.
The China Changfeng Motor Liebao Rally Team will make their first appearance in Australiaâ€™s toughest outback challenge, joining other overseas competitors from the USA, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and the Czech Republic for the rally.
Drivers Lui Bin, Xu Weiyu and Zhou Yuande will sit behind the wheel of the 3.8 litre, normally aspirated Changtong Motor â€“ a Chinese variant of the Mitsubishi Pajero â€“ tackling the 3600 kilometre course that starts and finishes in Perth, but tackles some of the most rugged terrain in the world in between.
According to their Australian team manager, Russ Cullen, it will be the biggest international team to ever enter the Australasian Safari.
Cullen, who runs Perth 4X4, has spent six months planning the Chinese teamâ€™s entry in the Safari, and says that the eventâ€™s international visitors are taking things very seriously.
â€œThere are 15 Chinese coming out for the event, as well as a team of Australians who will assist in the servicing of the vehicles during the eight days of competition,â€ Cullen said.
â€œWeâ€™ve had the expected language barriers to overcome during the planning process, but everything has come together really well.â€
Eventscorp Executive Director David van Ooran said he was delighted that the Australasian Safari had attracted such a large international team and media.
â€œPart of the Chinese team travelling to Western Australia include a Chinese TV group who will cover the progress of three drivers, generating additional media coverage in China, a massive market for potential visitors to WA,â€ Mr van Ooran said.
Lui, Xu and Zhou normally contest Chinaâ€™s FASC cross country racing series, and are expected to acclimatise well to the ruggedness of the Western Australian outback, however Cullen and his team will ensure that they leave nothing to chance.
â€œWeâ€™ll have a six-tonne truck following the event with all our tools and equipment, as well as having a separate service vehicle for each of the competition cars,â€ Cullen added.â€
â€œIn an event like the Safari you never know what might happen, so weâ€™ve had to try and plan for every eventuality.â€
Cullenâ€™s Perth 4X4 business prepares many competition cars, and expects their expertise to be a key factor in helping to get the Chinese machines to the finish after seven days of flat out driving in the outback.
After starting in Perth on August 1, the Safari will have overnight stops in Geraldton, Mt Magnet, Leonora and Laverton, before finishing in the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie on Saturday, August 8.
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