Cairns's Olholm on a mission
CAIRNS rally driver Geoff Olholm headed west yesterday determined to scratch a 20-year itch.
It was two decades ago that a more youthful Olholm went headfirst over his handlebars on the final stage of the Australasian Safari, handing victory to arch-rival John Hendricks.
The pair will square off again this year in the feature battle of what is regarded as Australia's version of the Dakar.
"We're both a little too old for the motorbikes now," Olholm quipped.
"But it'll be a good battle and it's a race I'd dearly love to win."
The 3000km extreme enduro moves away from the dust and fence lines of previous years, taking a new shorter course featuring some coastal stages.
From Perth, competitors head up the coast to Geraldton, through the Wheatbelt and Murchison then on to Carnarvon, slicing inland through the Gascoyne region, skirting the Kennedy Ranges before turning back to the finish line in Geraldton.
While Olholm has signalled his winning intentions, it is far from his primary objective this season.
As soon as he hits the finish line on September 29, the two-time Dakar Rally finisher will pack his bags for Morocco.
Waiting for him there will be a Toyota Hilux V8, built by Belgian experts Overdrive.
Olholm will drive that in October's Moroccan Rally, considered the perfect practice run before Dakar in January next year.
His Toyota will be 400kg lighter than what he is used to driving and, based on his experiences in the last two Dakars, Olholm is excited at the possibilities.
"This car will easily be the best one I've driven at Dakar," Olholm said.
"It should help me realistically push for a top-20 spot overall and a few top-10 finishes along the way.
"I'll still be the underdog, but I’ve got that experience now."
Before all that, he has an Australasian Safari to win. The program begins tomorrow.
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Australian Dakar: Cairns's Geoff Olholm will clash again with arch-rival John Hendricks in the 3000km Australasian Safari starting in Western Australia on Saturday.