-- Honda strengthen Safari lead - Leg 4
When you hear the expression ‘tiger country’, you know you’re a deep into the Australian outback and that’s where Australasian Safari sent competitors today.
The course comprised remote countryside along the Gascoyne River, around the Kennedy Ranges, over dry creeks, claypans and fence lines. It finished in the small community of Gascoyne Junction where the Safari crew has increased the town’s population by 500 percent!
Today’s competition saw Jake Smith increase his lead, and Warren Strange - also on Honda - moving into second position after Yamaha rider Rod Faggotter was out of Stage 9 with wheel bearing failure. Vern Strange moved into fourth and continues to lead the Dakar Challenge competition.
Jake Smith said despite the difficult navigation required today, he had no issues.
“I had a good day. The tracks were really technical, it certainly wasn’t easy. It was pretty cool when you dropped down into the range - the scenery was pretty nice.”
Warren Strange said he took the conservative approach today with the interesting track.
“The track was a challenge, I went sideways during the second stage, hit a rock and fell off but am not hurt. I rode conservatively today to maintain my position, to preserve the tyres and the motor.”
Ryan Ingham who has moved into sixth and currently the highest placed KTM rider, said he had a very good day. “The track was very rough and rocky and the bike is going perfect in it.” His manager Don McGrath chipped in: ”Tomorrow he’s gonna have to ride it like he stole it!”
Ivan Erceg on Honda enjoyed the first stage. “I really liked it - it was fast, sandy and along fence lines - those tracks suits me. The rocky stages made me ride more carefully. The bike’s in good nick but I’m not!” he laughed.
Simon Schimmel said he had the best day on the event so far. “I want the GPS coordinates for all these beautiful viewing spots – I want to come back to all these places with my wife. It is like Apache land, they should shoot movies here!”
Quad leader Paul Smith said he had an awesome day. “I loved it. I got lost half way through the last stage, it was really technical but that’s the sort of riding I like – it’s keeping me on my toes. I saw two emus today and the scenery is just beautiful - I’m getting the full fauna experience!”
The Australasian Safari has a double overnight stop in Gascoyne Junction, which was ravaged by floods in December 2010 with the highest water levels on record. Shire CEO Dirk Sellenger said the community had almost recovered and will soon have a new $7.6million tavern, roadhouse and caravan park.
Tomorrow’s course continues in the region with a 147km stage to start the day circumnavigating the huge pastoral station Bidgemia. Competitors will face a rough overgrown run and flood damaged river plains with many sandy creeks and river crossings. The huge 301km second stage follows a disused road including a stony floodway, fence lines, and hidden rocks. A highlight will be crossing the Gascoyne River finishing with fast flowing rally roads.
The Australasian Safari, from 21 to 29 September 2012, is an eight-day endurance race that sees competitors travel mainly off-road tracks through the outback of Western Australia. The event is known as one of the toughest and most challenging motorsport events in the world. This year’s course will be approximately 3500km through the mid west of Western Australia.
-- GHR Honda Report
After a relatively long rest a sleep in this morning the Safari field left the coast and ventured westwards into the Kennedy Range.
Fast paced station tracks made up most of the 155.66km SS9 Cooralya stage.
A short transport section took competitors across to the start of the SS10 Kennedy Range and the south westerly run to Gascoyne Junction bivouac.
Whereas speed had been the game in the first stage, creek crossings littered with round boulders and sharp rock steps tested riders and machinery throughout SS10.
Lead GHR Honda rider Jacob Smith was happy to be second on road this morning after finishing yesterday's 3 stages 29 seconds behind Yamaha rider Rod Faggotter.
However he rapidly found himself assuming the role of course vanguard after Faggotter stopped with mechanical issues. Jacob topped the times for both stages to extend his lead in the race and Warren Strange, initially third on road, also advanced to claim third for the day and second position overall.
GHR's Todd Smith rejoined the field today with time penalties, and while he is out of the running for the title this year he logged the second fastest times for both sections.
Paul Smith has built buffer of over an hour protecting his lead in the quads having enjoyed a trouble free day on his TRX700XX.
Jacob Smith: "I had an excellent day with no issues and I was just riding at a comfortable pace. I passed Rod (Faggotter) about 9km when he'd stopped but the bike was a dream to ride in this stuff. It was so comfortable with all the creek crossings and boulders. This thing makes my job easier when I have such confidence in it and I'm really happy with how I rode. After yesterday I worked hard on my mindset this morning. I started with a clear head and tried to stop my mind wandering, knowing that my main rival was out of the running. I've talked before about putting myself in the right position to win half way through. I did that today so the rest of the race is about taking care of myself."
Todd Smith: It's good to be back on the bike and getting into it again. I'm just having fun now and I stuck with Warren once I caught him in the stage."
Warren Strange: "I made a mistake and took a tumble today, but didn't damage myself of the bike. The rest of the day just was about keeping things that way."
Tomorrow the riders face two stages tomorrow, commencing the day the 147.25km SS11 Gascoyne stage before embarking on the 301.39km SS12 Bidgemia stage. Both sections involve complex navigation, numerous cautions and changes in terrain before they return to Gascoyne Junction for the second time.
Moto Overall Standings after leg three
-- Download Full Results (PDF)
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