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After starting the day as car 3 on the road Steve Riley and John Doble in the Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort Mitsubishi Pajero  slipped back in the field after damaging the steering rack on a 250 km stage. They will start day 3 from 9th on the road.

“We got  in front and  built up a good lead of about 30 minutes and then we came round a bend which had a big pool of water on it and despite 4 wheel drive we were passengers.  I even had time to think about positioning the car to minimise the damage.  The tree hit one of the front wheels and severely damaged the steering rack and we had 150 km to drive out of the stage.  The 30 minutes lead went of course. Basically it was a bit like clearing landmines for the cars behind.  We got out of the stage and  only had a 20 minutes service and Troy said he couldn’t see how we’d driven 150 km with the rack the way it was “ said Steve.

Troy did an amazing job by changing the steering rack in about 28 minutes so the team was back in action and only losing about 10 minutes or so out of something that looked like a show stopper   That practice he had been doing in the workshop before the Safari paid off!

“It was a bit like the surgeon giving instructions to the nurse – Troy just yelled at us  to get this and that and he did the business. An outstanding piece of work under pressure” said Steve.

The next  stage was about 140 km long and the team got a flat in a sandy place  which necessitated the digging of a hole to change the tyre.  The stage was overgrown with parts with plenty of branches hitting the windscreen as they drive through.

“By the end of that stage we were pretty tired and but at least we got through” said Steve.
 
The sister Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort Mitsubishi Pajero driven by Geoff Olholm and Haydn Redfern got through the day without any major dramas.  Geoff starts car 2 tomorrow on the road behind Andy Brown in the Holden Frontera. Steven and Geoff have a bet going on the car which loses its coconut on the roof first has to donate $100 to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Paul Borg has been in charge of logistics/planning  apart from exercising his culinary skills in the evening.  The importance of this part of the Safari is not always appreciated but you are in the middle of nowhere and under time pressure so all the bits and pieces you need to have just have to be there when you need them.  Paul’s training as a school teacher might have helped in that context.

The  Channel 7 “Sunrise”  team will be doing a live cross at 4am tomorrow but Steve and John will probably stay in bed after a pretty tiring day.
 
Bruce Garland in his Isuzu DMax  received rear end damage from another vehicle running in to him but his car is still driveable and he will start car 6 on the road tomorrow.

Tomorrow the roads are generally fast  and flowing at first, then they tightens into rocky, breakaway country. Rough and badly rutted in the middle, overgrown sections and very rough and rocky before the second timed passage control, then fast flowing station tracks to finish. Portions of this stage are classic rally driving types of roads.

Further in there is a mixture of fast smooth, sandy, rough and rocky station tracks passing a section of stunning rock formations.  There are fast station tracks and  a “challenging” river crossing.  Steve and John well remember that a river crossing can go bad as it did on the final leg to Darwin a few years back when they were in the lead.
  
The Australasian Safari covers about 3600km of the WA outback from Perth to Kalgoorlie, finishing in the gold mining city next Saturday, August 8.

Riley’s  service team comprises long time mechanic Chris Stone  who is assisted by Troy McAinch and Paul Borg.  Welding specialist Lawrence Richmond and Motec specialist Matt Turnbull round out the team.   Power from the 500 hp Pajero is delivered via a 6 speed Holinger box and it is stopped by a proven braking package developed by Kevin Gavin at Specialised Brake & Clutch.
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