|Australasian Safari: Spectacular dunes and coastline in SS03 at Carnarvon.|
Leg 3 of the "Australasian Safari" contained a huge 410 km of competitive stages that were among the most extraordinary in the event’s history - and competitors ensured the action was also spectacular.
Beach, deep blue sea, yellow sand dunes - from the landscape a mix of "African Sahara" and "Thailand Pattaya Beach"... Including wales, swimming in the background...not kidding!
The auto lead changed again today with yesterday’s fastest Geoff Olholm and Gordon Trigg (Mitsubishi Pajero V8) winning the first stage but not finishing the second due to mechanical issues.
Back in first position is record holder for most Safari wins, John Hederics with navigator Kees Weel in the Holden Colorado, followed by Production Class entry Rob Herridge and Sam Hill in the Subaru Forester, which is still making a very good race.
Hederics said they it was the toughest Safari stages they’d done to date. "We had a good day because we made it back! The course today was very challenging to navigate and tough in the sand. They were very different stages to anything we’ve done before."
West Australians Adrian Di Lallo and Daniel Masi have moved up to third place in their Isuzu D-Max while Isuzu Motorsport Teamchef Bruce Garland and his crew repaired their all-new D-Max Diesel T1 all day long - they will start again in SS04, but only for testing reasons.
After a bad day yesterday breaking a steering arm, Venezuelans Nunzio Coffaro and Daniel Menesez were back on track today. "We loved the beautiful views and being close to the beach. My navigator is great, the notes are good and I followed all of his instructions. But we lost three tyres today, the land is too hard for our tyres. Every time we had to change a tyre it cost us three minutes," Coffaro said.
In the bikes, Jake Smith continued to lead the motos at the end of Leg 3, with an 11-minute difference but he shared today’s stage wins with Rod Faggotter and Warren Strange.
Smith was tired at the end of a long day. "The first stages were very tough it was hard to navigate and find the way in the sand dunes. I got lost a bit in the third stage and undid all the good work I did this morning so I’m a bit disappointed but looking now to tomorrow" he said.
Robb Faggotter said had a few up and downs. "The bike is great, but I got lost in the second stage. Thankfully I made up time in the last stage and redeemed myself. The beach section was fun riding along the waves."
Italia´s Manuel Lucchese (Husaberg) had a bad day: After the mousse of his bike went down, he hitted a stone and rolled with his bike - but didn´t get injured. "I´m so disappointed. I was riding to reach the Top 10 again and finished 3rd in the second part of the stage. But every year something bad happens here in Australia. But I will try tomorrow."
Holland´s Alex van Ginkel (KTM) had again a good day. "I liked the stage, it was nice to ride and I find my pace very quick. I´m still in the Top 10, which is great. It´s my first time in Australia and I needed some time to find my way, but now it´s running."
Matt Fish got a bit too close to the water. 40 km into the first stage when riding along the water’s edge and following the tracks, he was hit by a wave and crashed. A second wave dragged him and his bike along the sand. His mechanics are working to get the bike back on track tomorrow.
In the quads, Paul Smith had a great day out on the quads, keeping his lead and even spotting whales along the Gnaraloo Station coast while travelling at 90km per hour! "The bike is strong and I’m feeling good. The first two stages were excellent, flowing sandy tracks. It was unbelievable."
The Dakar Challenge lead continues to be held by West Australian Vern Strange who, despite having an up and down day, is now sitting approximately 40 minutes ahead of nearest Dakar Challenge rider Brett Cummings from South Africa, moving up a place from US entry Michael Johnson.
"I had a few minor mechanical issues, the brakes went on the first stage - I got entangled with some old fence wire on the second stage and the third stage I lost a lot of time by getting lost," Strange said.
From the pristine white sand beaches and crystal waters of the Coral Coast, Australasian Safari heads inland towards Gascoyne Junction tomorrow in a shorter day of two stages and new territory to challenge. Creeks, fence lines, windmills and clay pans will demand accurate navigation. The second stage runs by the Kennedy Ranges into remote country with spectacular views if competitors have time to see it.
2012/09/26 | 13:21 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PITTAWAY