Australasian Safari 2013 – Jake Smith out of contention, Rod Faggotter finishes leg one on top

It was highlights and lowlights in Leg 1 of the Australasian Safari, with sand traps, tricky twisting navigation and rugged terrain in three stages in and around Northampton and Kalbarri in Western Australia.

Last year’s moto winner Jake Smith is likely to be out of contention but will be back on the bike tomorrow. After winning the first and second stages, he had engine failure in the last stage requiring vehicle recovery. He reversed roles with his brother Todd who was out in the first leg last year. It was a much better day for Queensland Yamaha dealer Rod Faggotter who worked his way to the top by the end of the Leg.

Faggotter said he had a good day and a smooth run. “The first stage was heavy sand making the bike work hard. For me today was about getting through it and not pushing too hard. My goal was to ride smoothly and not crash.”

Todd Smith finished the Leg in second place and said despite a slow start he finished well. “The first stage was really sandy and soft and the front wheel sunk. I came off and it took me a little while to get my flow back. Later on I had to slow down for some sheep but the rest of the ride was smooth.”

Warren Strange, riding an Aprilla RXV550, was lucky to finish and even luckier to place eighth at the end of the Leg. “In the first stage I had fuel running down my leg from a faulty fitting on the front fuel tank. I had to stop and siphon it from the front to the back fuel tank,” Strange said.

“Then in the third stage I had to get towed. I owe Ivan (Erceg) a carton. He towed me and I hung on to his camelback. Then on top of it all I also had a failure with the starter motor – I couldn’t stall and had to keep going otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to start again.”

Rally driver Alister McRae is still getting used to the navigation. “I’m really enjoying it so far but still getting my head around the navigation. I’m used to having someone tell me where to drive! The second stage was really good.”

It was a tough day for each of the old bikes in the first stage with Chris Hse’s 1983 BMW R65 stopping in the stage, Jiri Vasatko from the Czech Repuplic’s 1985 Honda XL 600 LM getting stuck in beach sand, and Luc Michellys from France’s 1983 Honda XL 600 also caught in beach sand requiring recovery.

Heath Young is happy to be leading the quads after an eventful day. “Nine kilometres into the second stage my map roller stopped, and the bike lost power. I couldn’t manually turn it so I just followed my nose to get out of there. I had to do two tow-starts and keep it running and John (Maragozidis) helped me get going. Hopefully it’s just a fuse. I’m feeling really great though and had a great day.””

Michael Heuchan is on top of the side-sides after Garry Connell blew a tyre, and rubber went into the exhaust and he had to stop to use his fire extinguisher.

Giuliano Airoldi from Italy and Sebastien Delaunay from France got bogged in beach sand in Stage 1, which moved them into third place.

Connell said the vehicles were comparable to the speed of the autos in the tighter sections but were slower on the straights.

Today’s racing travelled through farm paddocks, along the edge of the Bowes River, into Yandi Station and across the Vermin Proof Fence and into rough, rugged and rocky terrain on Coolcalalaya Station. Competitors crossed Murchison River and finished up at Mary Springs Station.

Tomorrow competitors will tackle two long stages of 147km and 288km respectively heading to Gascoyne Junction.

The Australasian Safari, from 20 to 27 September 2013, is a seven-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 is approximately 3200km through the mid west of Western Australia.

Leg 1 results – Top 10

Rodney Faggotter 02:57:58
Todd Smith 02:58:34
Matt Fish 03:02:30
Shane Diener 03:05:04
Lee Stephens 03:06:26
Vernon Strange 03:06:33
Russell Scoble 03:11:15
Warren Strange 03:11:21
Alister McRae 03:11:56
Ivan Erceg 03:15:42

— Yamaha Report

Yamaha Desert Racing’s Rod Faggotter has forged to the lead at the end of competition on the opening day of the 2013 Australian Safari, held in WA.

The week-long event, the toughest of its kind in Australia, saw over 100 competitors’ face the starter on day one and the Yamaha Desert Racing team were looking to lay down a solid foundation on the opening day.

Rod Faggotter, Shane Diener and Vernon Strange are all Yamaha WR450F mounted and inside the top 10 after the three stages and nearly three hours of racing done today as they raced through the Western Australian wilderness.

Faggotter started his day calmly and finished the opening stage running fifth. Stage two and he stepped it up a notch to gain a position on the course and was he was fourth as he left the stage two check-point. Faggotter then continued his momentum in the final stage of the day, winning the stage and at the same time, moving into the lead in the motorcycle division.

Team mate Shane Diener’s day mirrored that of Faggotter as he too climbed his way forward throughout the day. Starting in seventh place he gained three positions by the time he reached the third and final checkpoint for the day at Mori-Yandi and will set off on day two running in fourth place.

Vernon Strange made it an impressive day for the YDR crew moving from 21st place at the start of the day to be sixth at the end of day one. Strange was one of the big movers in the field on day one and is well placed as the Safari continues in the coming days.

“It was a solid start to the event for YDR,” said Faggotter. “No-one was really pushing too hard as it is in the very early stages, but we all seem to be riding well and the bikes are in great shape, so it’s a positive start and something we can build on as the event moves on.”

The 2013 Australian Safari will see competitors race across the WA inland and up and down the coast line for the next six days and cover some 3200kilometres before the field assembles at Geraldton on Friday for the finish.

All three YDR riders are experience campaigners in long haul endurance events with Faggotter and Diener claiming several wins at other prestigious events like the Condobolin 750 and the SA24 Hour event.

The bikes they are mounted on a production based Yamaha WR450F’s and have proven themselves to be a fast and reliable mount for adventure racing. The majority of changes to the bike made are to suit navigation and fuel loads for the long distances covered.




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