|Australasian Safari: Fast and tough 3rd stage for the cars - T2´s braked out.|
Monday´s 3rd leg of the Australasian Safari Rally was again a tough proof for the competitors. From Sandstone the route goes to Leverton in the east of Western Australia - near the "Victoria Desert" (just nearly 1000 kms away from the legendary Ayers Rock). The landscape changed again, from "Wild West Country" like in American movies to steppe like in Senegal - and again bushland, as it´s typical for the Western Australian Outback.
Over 560 competitive kilometers, the 48 motos, 11 cars and and 5 quad riders and drivers left in the competition faced many twists and turns, incredibly challenging navigation across rocky breakaways, overgrown fence lines, twisted tracks, stone roads, flood plains, and tricky navigation around bores, tanks and windmills.
After all, it was fast again - very, very fast. On some positions you could hear the bikes coming for many kilometers - without any braking sound... and even leaving with the same "full throttle" sound. The day was so tough, that the route coordinator said, "Even the second special of the day could be a complete Safari Rally on its own." During the competitors - mixed emotions...
In the cars, again the fast tracks were perfect for the "Crazy" fraction of Lowndes (Holden), Riley (Mitsubishi), Connor (Nissan) and Olholm (Mitsubishi). And - surprise - Craig Lowndes won again the both stages of the day and strengthen his overall lead with 13:57:39 hours.
But especially the Mitsubishi-drivers Steve Riley and John Doble in their short "Coconut" Mitsubishi Pajero V8 don´t let Lowndes go, followed him with only some minutes and finished as second with now 14:18:23 hours in front of the father-daughter pairing Connor/Connor in their Nissan with 14:57:33.
Riley said they pushed themselves and their Pajero hard today. "It was a long day and my brain is fried! The windscreen cracked a few times from the car getting bashed around. The Dakar Rally was good practice for today - you have long days and have to concentrate the whole time."
Geoff Olholm (Mitsubishi Pajero) had a bad day. The alternator broke, with every kilometer the electricity went more and more down, until they had to stop. "We didn´t finish today, had to recovered by our service. We are driving to win, so we now have no chance anymore. We decide today evening, if we will start again on Tuesday." So in the left Prototype-cars the Mitsubishi-Triton (L200) crew Purshouse / McShane profited from that, were now on 4th position with 16:11:30 hours.
From today we will call "The Normals" (remember yesterday) the drivers of the different production class cars. In Australia there are not only FIA homologated cars allowed, the Australians have (like in Germany) their own classes, which makes the race for lower budget more interesting - and will include more brands.
But today the production cars had their problems with the fast stages, most of them couldn´t finish the first part in time. In addition, they were not allowed to start in the second part because of the upcoming darkness. So it was the day for Adrian Dilallo and Robert Masi, who pushed their T2 Mitsubishi Pajero Evo and had a nice battle with the "Mitsubishi Mining Challenger" team of Robert Inall and Harvey Smith (results still missed in the evening).
One production-car we didn´t often see the last days: The Subaru Forester of Robert Herridge and Tim Batten. For this crew it´s the first Safari Rally, especially with this car. "For us its an experience" Herridge told. "We normally are driving car-rallys with Subaru, so the people asked my, why not to drive a offroad rally with the Forester."
"We decided to drive as a production car first, to collect experience and learn, how the car works offroad. We still found some mistakes, especially the rear suspension, which broke several times. Even the right positioning of the tires is a essential step, now we changed it and the car is more stable." We will follow the team in the next days to see, how the totally new offroad-experience goes on.
Tomorrow will be again a very tough day - maybe the toughest of all the rally. Three stages with 88 kms, 130 kms and 241 kms are waiting for the participants, including some mining regions and the "Victoria Desert".
2011/09/26 | 15:37 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY