|Australasian Safari: Strong international entry list in Australia´s Rally 2012.|
From Thai celebrities to a Californian off road racing star, an entourage of Dutch riders, an experienced female rider and hardened South Africans - Australasian Safari 2012 is attracting entries from around the globe as its reputation as Australia’s toughest offroad event grows.
There are first-time bike competitors from the east and west coast of the USA with Jason Adams from New York and off-road champion Quinn Cody from California.
Quinn Cody, who will be riding for the CPW KTM team, is an experienced off-road racer with significant international wins, including the Ensenada to La Paz Baja 1000 in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011; The Baja 500 in 2010 and 2011, and the 533-mile Vegas to Reno off road race in 2010 - the only racer in the decades-long history of the Vegas to Reno to win as a solo rider.
In 2011 he competed in what he described as "the toughest race in my career" - the Dakar Rally. Incredibly he finished 9th outright in the moto category, and was named ‘Rookie of the Year’.
Quinn said he was excited about the prospect of taking on the Australian outback. "I’m looking forward to the new challenge of racing in Australia. I really have no idea what to expect from the terrain and competition, but I will give it my best and hope for a good finish," Quinn said.
Thai singer and TV star Kiatkamol Lata will compete in his first Safari, alongside team mate Rachan Trairat who tackled the race for the first time last year. Both will be competing in the Isuzu Dmax.
A relative newcomer to rally racing, Kiatkamol (known in Thailand as Tui AF - who become famous in the Australian-Idol like TV show True Visions Academy Fantasia) said he hoped his entry into Safari would help to gain him more experience in motorsport.
"I am looking forward to competing in the event against professional drivers, at the same time introduce the beauty of Thai cultures and customs. I hope to finish the race and make lots of friends while competing and also to strengthen the good relationship between Australia and Asia through motorsport," he said.
Tenacious German rider Tina Meier will make the trip to Australia and will compete on a TE310 Husqvarna. An experienced Dakar starter with four under her belt, Tina has a busy schedule and will come to Australia directly from the Breslau Rally in Poland and the Transanatolia Rally Raid in Turkey. She has been keen to race in the Safari since three-time Safari competitor Annie Seel told her about the event.
"Annie told me how good this race is and because it is a very nice way to explore a country - on a bike together with your friends. My goal for the event is the same as usual: make it safe each day and to the finish and complete the whole race in a good position," Tina said.
Alex van Ginkel and Simon Schimmel from the Netherlands will ride in their first Safari. Also on their team are Antal Vershuuren and Gerjan Lippink who are participating in the Adventure Tour - the non-competitive version of the event. All four are participating in a series of European off-road events leading into the Safari.
South Africans Glen Grundy, Brett Cummings and Guy Henley, who together make up Team South Africa GHR Honda, will be on their bikes competing for the crown to see which country breeds the toughest riders.
Glen and Brett came to Western Australia for Safari in 2011 but only Glen competed. Brett was a late entry withdrawal due to injury, but still came along to support his teammate. Glen came off his bike in the second to last leg of the event and was forced to withdraw.
Glen said the team were hoping for bigger things in 2012. "The Australasian Safari experience was brilliant and a very steep learning curve! The road book navigation, multi-day racing, liaison staging, all made it very interesting."
"There was no excuse for my momentary lapse of talent, and crashing is part of what happens in offroad racing. To heal and learn and come back another day is what it really is about! We have had a great time in Australia, met some special people, and we’re looking forward to coming back," he said.
Glen and Brett have entered Dakar 2013 with Glenn Hoffmann and GHR. Guy Henley is a South Africa Seniors National champion and hopes to do well in the Safari.
More than 100 competitors will take part in the Australasian Safari on 21 to 29 September. This year the event is taking a new coastal route in Western Australia, travelling north to Geraldton, through the Wheatbelt and Murchison to Carnarvon, before finishing back at Geraldton.
2012/06/25 | 14:39 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/HUNT