Tiger country on Leg 4 of Australasian Safari
- 26th September 2012, 9:11pm
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!”
John Hederics in the Holden Colorado held his auto lead, now 33 minutes, with navigator Kees Weel, with Production Class entry Rob Herridge and Sam Hill in the Subaru Forrester in pursuit.
Hederics said the second stage was really rough and rocky but the car was holding up well.
“We’re trying to consolidate now and took it easy, we were happy to let other cars go past us. We’re glad to be back.”
Nunzio Coffaro from Venezuela said today was like a movie finale! “There were three cars racing - the Holden (Hederics), The Isuzu (Di Lallo) and the Hilux (Coffaro). But we got a puncture during this time and we changed the tyre and caught up, then the Isuzu got a puncture. We’re using different tyres tomorrow.”
Rob Herridge said they had a rough day on the course. “We decided to take it easy today so we wouldn’t make any mistakes with the navigation, but we still got lost.
“When we found our way again we got caught in someone else’s dust, the frustration set in then we got a puncture but we made up time in the last stage to finish on a high,” Herridge said.
Rachan Trairat and Peerapong Sombutwong in an Isuzu D-Max had a dramatic day with a rollover in the first stage. They were not hurt and the mechanics are working to get the car back on track tomorrow.
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 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.
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