Champion competes in Tunisia
A SMALL matter of an outbreak of revolutionary fervour in a number of oil-rich North African republics was not going to deter champion rally driver Lee Palmer from competing in the 30th Rally of Tunisia.
Mr Palmer, who runs the motorcycle dealership Cross Roads Grafton with wife Claudia, is en route to Tozeur after leaving Australia on Tuesday.
According to Mrs Palmer, who is in charge of the business for two weeks while her husband competes in the six days of rally driving in the Tunisian desert, he will need to hit the ground running as the competition begins on Monday.
Mr Palmer will co-drive with regular partner Amadeus Matzker in the race, which could be best described as a “mini Paris to Dakar”.
“It’s a part of the World Rally Championship, which culminates in the Paris to Dakar in January,” Mrs Palmer said.
“But where the Paris to Dakar goes for three weeks, this is just six days of racing.”
She said her husband had been assured that political instability in the region would not affect this year’s event.
“It’s been held in the south of Tunisia and well and truly away from the Libyan border,” she said.
She said the drivers will take part in a prologue on Sunday to acclimatise them to the courses before competition begins the next day.
She said the competitors will drive a different course on each day of competition.
The team is aiming for a top-10 finish, despite facing stiff competition from professional teams, such as BMW, which will be competing next week.
“The private teams do it harder than the big teams,” Mrs Palmer said.
“There’s no budget to employ as many people in the team.
“But we have a good, small team that has been working together for a long time.
“A top-10 finish will take a bit of luck and will depend on the weather conditions and if the car gets damaged or not.”
Mr Palmer, who enjoyed success competing in motorcycle rallies before switching to cars five years ago, has been the navigator since he made the switch.
“When he was riding bikes, he had to do both, but now he just concentrates on the one thing,” Mrs Palmer said.