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The tall grasses that gave grief to competitors over the last two days have cleared and the pace increased as Safari headed further inland from Mt Magnet to Sandstone today on 326km of competitive stages.

The lead in the motos has been held by brothers Todd and Jake Smith on Honda, closely followed by Ben Grabham and Matt Fish, both on KTM. Dakar winner Frenchman Cyril Despres, also on KTM, said he had a better day and moved up one position to fifth.

“It was fun today. I was a bit faster, although I was expecting it to be like yesterday. There was some sliding – it was quite fun. Some parts were really fast.

“I’m still having difficultly with the course notes, it is very different to what I am used to and I’m not sure I can learn it in a week. I saw some big animals today including 1.5 metre lizard!”

Todd and Jacob Smith have stayed neck and neck but are helping each other along the way.

“Jacob caught me and we raced each other most of the way, and we also worked together to open and close gates. The stages were flowing nicely - it was fun,” Todd Smith said.

Matthew Fish also encountered some wildlife on the course.

“I had a good day today – no dramas. Stage 3 was really fun and Stage 4 was a bit rockier. I managed to get some good speed and didn’t make any navigation errors. I had a couple of close calls with a kangaroo and an emu and saw heaps of lizards out there.”

For Damian Grabham, it was a relief to get to the end of today’s Leg.

“Today was mentally challenging – this is the place where I broke my leg two years ago. I just cruised and took it easy. It was good,” he said.

Craig Lowndes and John Panozzo are flying the flag for the PWR Holden team, remaining ahead of the autos in their Holden Colorado, finishing 14 minutes ahead of Steve Riley and John Doble in their Mitsubishi Pajero for the Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort team.

“Today was good, the stages were much better than yesterday. There were a lot of fast sections, and it was a lot less slippery than yesterday, so a lot more enjoyable. We even saw a family of emus,” Lowndes said.

Steve Riley said although the day was hard on the car and their bodies, it was a good day because they had no mechanical problems.

“There were lots of fast bits, and some pretty rough and broken country. We caught up to Craig - he was lost, and we were lost, and a few other cars joined us, driving around in circles playing follow the leader.

“The scenery was nice with some big rocky gorges and acres of wildflowers. We went through some really overgrown areas and the windows got covered in sap and John (Doble) was busy scrubbing it off,” Riley said.

Terry ‘Tangles’ Conner and daughter Jodi Conner have managed to retain their third fastest position.

Geoff Olholm in fourth fastest position said they had a great day.

“The stages were fast and flowing and a bit rough in a few patches and we had a close call with three kangaroos. We hit 200kph on the fast straight track, it was very enjoyable.”

Colin Lawson remains fastest Quad despite having a tough day, wrecking a rear wheel rim and having to stop to change his drive belt.

Adrian Hermsen said he had his best day for a long time on the Can-Am Renegade. He sits second fastest in the Quads.

“I had an awesome day. The tracks were fast and flowing with lots of nice corners where I could slide the back out. Today was the best ride I’ve had in ages.”

Today sees competitors travel to Laverton for the event’s longest competitive course so far at 560km.
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