|Australasian Safari: Craig Lowndes and Holden in big lead before last stage.|
Messing up their navigation or getting the car stuck in the sand dunes are the only obstacles that face Craig Lowndes and co-driver Kees Weel as they head into the finale of the 2010 Australasian Safari tomorrow. With more than an hour clear of their closest competitors in overall results, Lowndes they had a great day, travelling from Norseman to Esperance on the southern coast of Western Australia.
"We lost seven minutes in the first stage by back-tracking, but we made up the time and passed a couple of cars, and we didn´t hit anything!" Lowndes said. "The second stage was really good. It was what I expected the Safari to be, open fast and flowing and the Colorado is suited to that type of terrain. Kees is going to be studying the road book tonight. Our concern for tomorrow is to make sure we don´t make any nav errors and that we don´t get stuck."
Darren Green and Wayne Smith (Nissan Patrol Station) continued to hang on to their second fastest position after the 325 competitive kilometres travelled today. Going slow in the first stage didn´t work for us. We had a nav error, a flat tyre, then we overheated. We sped up in the second to try to make up time," Smith said. "We are a bit worried about tomorrow. The secret to sand is a light car and a lot of power. Our car is heavy and not as powerful as some of the other cars.
Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki (Isuzu D-Max Diesel) had a good first stage today but had a few issues on the second, having to change three tyres. But Garland is looking forward to the final day´s racing which will be through sand dunes to the edge of the Southern Ocean a terrain he is well used to with three Dakars under his belt. "We are looking forward to tomorrow. The Isuzu is suited to that type of driving. It has more torque down low because its runs on diesel which will help us in the sand.
Good news for the fans of the Chinese "Chang Feng" Mitsubishi Pajero´s: Both cars were back in the race today, the Chinese team fixed the cars all night long after the accidents yesterday... and the injured driver droves including pain... Chinese guys are even tough!
Greg Knowles and Daniel Villanova also had an eventful day in their Hummer H2. "We overtook Kerry Turley, and stopped to tow out Neil Dunn," Knowles said. On the second stage there was 4.6 km of tight stuff. We were doing 160 km/h down a track that wasn´t really wide enough for the car. It was so narrow that we felt like we were systematically tearing the car apart. But we´ll be back on the road tomorrow. I´ve done a lot of sand work before, so it will be interesting to see how we go."
It´s the eve of Australasian Safari 2010´s final Leg, which promises to provide a thrilling finish through the coastal sand dunes of Esperance to the southern ocean, the location of what are arguably some of Australia´s most stunning beaches.
An official podium finish will be held on the foreshore of the town of Esperance, with every competitor still in the race celebrating the fact they have managed to finish this gruelling event.
Considered one of the world´s great endurance events, the Australasian Safari has travelled from Southern Cross in the wheatbelt through to the historic Western Australian goldfields, desert, rugged bush and coastal sand dunes.
2010/09/24 | 15:04 CET | EDITOR: MR/HS/PITTAWAY