GHR reflect on their Dakar 2011 assault
After many months of preparation at home and nearly one month in South America, the GHR Honda Australia team have finished their first Dakar Rally. The GHR effort has represented the single largest Australian backed campaign in the Rally’s “moto” class for motorcycles.
GHR Honda Australia entered four riders – Jacob Smith (#113), Mark Davidson (#117), Simon Harslett (#181) and Warren Strange (#121). Team owner Glenn Hoffmann was under no
illusions about how tough the event was going to be, and while hoping to do well the main objective for this year was to finish and gain the experience for the future.
Only 94 of the original 186 entrants in the moto class finished the grueling event which some competitors described as one of the toughest Dakars ever.
22 year old Jacob Smith finished the 2011 Dakar in 32nd place on 16 January, 13:14:57 behind Rally winner Marc Coma. His hopes of a top 10 finish were thwarted by a series of issues
with fuel tanks and navigation equipment, poor position in the starting order and a crash on the final stage. Importantly, Jacob made it to the finish and the engines remained utterly reliable.
Mark Davidson withdrew from the event at the end of stage 4. Davidson had suffered from altitude sickness when crossing the Andes mountains at over 4,500m elevation and was forced to start the day’s timed section just in front of the racing trucks. A crash at high speed in their dust left him with broken ribs. Not to be defeated by the event, Davidson chose to stay with the team and assist Jacob Smith with his daily preparations.
Warren Strange had been riding well all event, but his race was also cut short when he crashed heavily just before the end of stage 5. Unable to continue due to a shoulder injury, Strange flew home to Australia for treatment shortly after.
Simon Harslett was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the race before it even started and returned to Australia.
Glenn Hoffmann has described the whole experience as “the first month of a three year programme”. Although the event is now finished, the GHR team face two days of work packing up their bikes and equipment before leaving Buenos Aires on Wednesday. They arrive back in Australia early on Thursday evening after 27 days of sleep deprivation hard work.
Final Overall Results
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM, at 15:04
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, 1:40:20
4, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia,
5, Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 3:07:03
6, Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM at 3:32:56
7, Jean De Azevedo, Brazil, KTM, 3:59:38
8, Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM, at 4:13:01
9, Jacek Czachor, Poland, KTM at 9:38:41
10, Henk Knuiman, Netherlands, KTM 6:14:46