|Australasian Safari: A rocky road for the motos in Stage 03 in Australia.|
While the auto leaders made it through relatively unscathed today, the bikes took more of a hammering and Safari is living up to its reputation as Australia’s toughest off-road motorsport event.
Western Australia’s Gascoyne was the scene for 432 hard competitive kilometres of racing today in two stages, and the course offered up what the region is renowned for – rich red earth, rugged ranges and rock formations, cattle stations and dry creek beds.
It was also a challenging day for Safari’s medical team because today’s Leg 3 is the most remote part of the event. All injuries reported to the medical team were from moto competitors and experienced Safari competitor Warren Strange was airlifted by Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to Perth as a precaution, after he crashed his bike early in the first stage. The RFDS was on site within three hours and Strange is in a serious but stable condition.
Motos: Rod Faggotter regained his moto lead while Todd Smith moved to second place after experiencing some dramas today. Matt Fish is putting in a strong performance and is sitting third overall.
Faggotter said he was happy to be back in the lead. “I really pushed it along today trying to keep the ride smooth. I had no navigation errors and my only issue was windburn. The bike is going smooth, sweet as a nut.”
Smith didn't have such a smooth day, coming off his bike in the second stage. “I damaged my front wheel, map reader and handlebars 130km into the second stage. It also popped the fuel cap and I lost fuel when I was riding, so for 50km I had to ride at quarter throttle.”
Despite having stitches in his forehead, Matt Fish was in good spirits and finished second in the second stage and sits in third outright. “I tipped the bike over, and the ‘safety’ goggles cut my forehead. The terrain was very challenging and unforgiving today but I’m happy.”
Shane Diener had a strong day finishing in outright fourth and continues to hold the Dakar Challenge lead. “I’m pretty happy with today. I had to stop in the first stage to fix the tension in my wheel and lost about four minutes. I overshot a few turns and missed a corner but didn't have any other navigation errors. Today’s long second stage was really challenging to push through and do that distance without a break.”
Cars: It was a less dramatic day for the autos but still long and tough. Geoff Olholm and Gordon Trigg held and built their head, and Dave McShane recovered well after a nightmare day yesterday on course. Rob Herridge and Sam Hill have moved into third fastest overall.
Despite having two punctures, Olholm said they had a good day. “One puncture was on the first stage and the other on the second stage – it blew the tyre apart when we hit a hidden rock. We had a good clean run to the finish. I loved today’s stages and the cars going really well. The long stages are more mentally tiring than physically tiring,” he said.
Dave McShane was happy to survive the day. “I would’ve liked to have made up some time on Geoff but it didn't happen. We also got punctures in both stages. Navigation was difficult in the second stage. It was all about survival for the car so we took it a bit easier. The car’s starting to creak and groan a bit but it’s still going strong.”
Quads: John Maragozidis holds just a three-minute lead on Heath Young in the quads. He had navigation issues and had some repairs to make. “I got lost twice today in the second stage and lost a lot of time. I destroyed a set of brake disks and break pads, but apart from that had a great day.”
Heath Young also got a flat and was happy to make it through the day. “The old girl went well today. I got my first flat of the event 50km from the end of the second stage. I run with a tyre ball in the tyre, which kept me going to the end without having to change it. I was just really happy to get through the 288km stage and was in preservation mode for the marathon day tomorrow.”
Leg Three of Australasian Safari circumnavigated the vast Bidgemia and Gascoyne Stations, and included fast flowing rally roads, an overgrown run, flood damaged river plains with sandy creeks and river crossings. After a spectacular crossing of the Gascoyne River, competitors tackled rocky ranges, gutters and rough creeks that forced them to pay close attention to the roadbook.
Motos Leg 3 overall results – Top 10
01) Rodney Faggotter I 11:22:00
02) Todd Smith I 11:30:49
03) Matt Fish I 11:43:17
04) Shane Diener I 11:56:55
05) Lee Stephens I 12:20:23
06) Alister McRae I 12:22:24
07) Russell Scoble I 12:37:17
08) Ryan Ingram I 13:02:34
09) Troy O’Connor I 13:17:09
10) Ivan Erceg I 13:29:14
Cars Leg 3 overall results – Top 10
01) Olholm/Trigg I 09:25:19
02) McShane/Hayes I 09:35:31
03) Harrington/Harrington I 09:51:18
04) Purshouse/Mortimer I 09:54:37
05) Herridge/Hill I 09:58:24
06) Travis/Travis I 10:05:34
07) Walkden/Sheldrick I 10:15:45
08) Denham/Topliff I 10:21:29
09) Jerie/Watman I 10:24:52
10) Owen/Cairns I 10:37:18
2013/09/26 | 16:13 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/SWANTON