Big guns arrive
Saturday, 5th November, 2011
By John Casey
BH is playing host to motorsport royalty this weekend with Australian offroad racing champion Bruce Garland heading the list of entries for the inaugural Silver City 600.
The BH event, which is tipped to become one of the features on the Australian cross country rally calendar, marks a welcome return to racing for Garland and long-time navigator Harry Suzuki.
The dynamic duo has been out of action since January when the notorious Dakar Rally almost left Garland a paraplegic following a nasty accident in Chile.
In a shocking year for Garland, the Sydney-based driver later suffered a heart attack while on holiday in Melbourne in March and required five bypasses.
“If it had been a bigger hit or I’d had another knock I could have ended up a paraplegic, so I do know how lucky I am,” Garland said after bouncing off a sand dune and landing heavily in the Atacama Desert during the Dakar event.
“The hit was so hard on my side that it broke an engine mount ... I felt my spine crunch.”
Garland will drive the Isuzu D-MAX ute which came to grief in Chile as part of a three-car team entry for the Silver City 600, which brings added prestige to the inaugural BH-based event.
More than 20 cars have been entered for the SC600, which roars into action this morning from the BH Racecourse and roughly follows a 550-kilometre southerly path adjacent to the Wentworth Road before returning.
Day Two tomorrow is a three-stage contest that will tackle a 180-kilometre route near the Menindee Road and spectators are advised that the site of the old Rockwell Pub would be the best vantage point to see the cars in action.
“The Silver City 600 isn’t really a spectator sport because of the terrain we will be tackling on private property, but Sunday morning around Rockwell should provide some good viewing,” event organiser Brent Twaddle said.
“We encourage people to come out and have a look, but request that they don’t stray on to private property because that could be dangerous for everyone.
“Local land holders have been very generous in allowing us to use their property and spectators need to respect them as well,” Mr Twaddle continued.
Support from the BH community has been overwhelming according to Mr Twaddle, who is hoping to establish the event this year before handing over the reins to local motorsport aficionados.
“The pre-event meeting earlier this week was well attended and we were able to appoint the necessary time controllers and marshals who should ensure the event runs without a hitch,” Mr Twaddle said.
“So far everything has been running very smoothly which is a credit to the people here in Broken Hill who have been involved.”
Leading BH rally driver Kerry Turley will be the only local competitor in action this weekend, behind the wheel of his 6000cc Nissan Patrol.
Turley was reluctantly forced to withdraw from the recent Australasian Safari in WA when his navigator became unavailable, and is looking forward to competing in his own backyard against the likes of Garland.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity because if things go our way I’d like to think I can finish on the podium,” Turley said.
“My car is one of the oldest but these types of events aren’t always about having the fastest vehicle -you need to be smart and think your way through the stages.
“The terrain around Broken Hill is going to provide a very good challenge and in motorsport a $10 part can be the difference between winning and losing, so we’ll see how we go.” Turley added.
The forecast hot weather will also test competitors as only one car has air conditioning.
“I don’t even have any windows to wind down because they have been replaced with toughened Perspex for safety,” Turley explained.
“I’ll be using an ice-vest like the V8 Supercar drivers wear and drinking plenty of water to try and beat the heat.”
Five-time Australasian Safari winner Garland will have the honour of leading the field from the racecourse at 7am today with Turley seeded fourth.