|Australasian Safari: Tricky beautiful 448 km in SS05 near Gascoyne Junction.|
Round course around Gascoyne Junction: The vast and remote pastoral station of Bidgemia in Western Australia hosted Thursday's 5th leg of the "Australasian Safari" Rally 2012 and although the country hospitality was warm and friendly - the course was just the opposite.
The participants had to handle 448 kms, splitted in two stages with 147 and 301 kms each. Dust, speed and tricky - this were the main themes of the day.
In the cars, the sympathic Geoff Olholm from Queensland made the day again with his Mitsubishi Pajero V8 and needed 05:18:09 hours, shortly followed by the Venezuela-crew Coffaro / Meneses with their Overdrive Toyota (05:24:28), Hederics / Weel (Holden Colorado, 05:36:14), Turley / Canavan (Nissan Patrol V8, 05:36:26) and Herridge/Hill with the Subaru Forester (06:05:09).
In the overalls standings were no changes in the Top 10: John Hederics and Kees Weel still lead the rally with now 21:29:42 hours, again followed by the Subaru-duo Rob Herridge and Sam Hill (22:31:31) and the fastest Nissan Patrol of Owen / Cairns (24:16:40).
The Subaru was hitten slightly in the rear by the Mitsubishi of Les Walkden, but Herridge took it with humour and marked the damage with the words "Les Walkden did this - The old fool!"
After we had to say good-bye to the Isuzu of Garland/Suzuki, the Nissan Patrol of Harrington/Harrington, the Mitsubishi L200 Triton of Purshouse/Noble, the Volkswagen Amarok of Sam Beck and Chris Kenny (they broke the clutch in the sand of SS03) and the historic Datsun 260Z sportscar from 1975 (rolled in SS03) Thursday also the Protruck Ford of Dave McShane left the field. The Protruck made a new 2012-record: He was the only car who didn´t finish only one stage - including the prologue.
Holden-driver John Hederics was driving stable again, didn´t push but hold his good pace. "We had a good day. There were a lot of gutters it was really rough and tough, we drove carefully to preserve the car, we backed off and consolidated" he said after the stage.
Cairn´s Mitsubishi-driver Geoff Olholm said you had to be on the ball the whole time today. "It was the best stage we have ever driven. It was tough, like a Dakar stage - simply a brilliant stage. We got the second place in the first stage due to lost time from a puncture. Then we completed the second stage 10 minutes ahead of the next competitor! The stages were very tough with a lot of large rocks and gulleys. No dramas with the car. Currently sitting in 10th overall with 2 competitors sitting less than 30 minutes in front - we will start from the front of the field again."
Nissan pilot Reg Owen enjoyed the day: "The first stage of today was nice and rough, I had to stop twice to bolt up the exhaust but other than that we had a good run. Then it was a long second stage and I'm knackered but it's all good and the car is going great."
In the bikes, the moto lead has been held by Jake Smith (Honda), with Warren Strange (Honda) still in pursuit. Brother Vern Strange is out of podium contention after a mechanical issue forced him out of the second stage. This brings Ivan Erceg (Honda) to third with South African rider Brett Cummings, also on Honda, taking the "Dakar Challenge" lead.
The Dakar Challenge dream is over for Dutch rider Alex van Ginkel. He came off his bike and was met within minutes by the medical team, flown to the Safari bivouac, and driven by the medics to Carnarvon Hospital and is in a stable condition.
US-American rider Michael Johnson, also a Dakar Challenge contender, broke his arm after coming off his bike and has been flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Perth for treatment. The Dakar Challenge will now be fought between Brett Cummings, Melchior van Heertum and Guy Henley, Russell Scoble, Todd Smith and Vern Strange.
For the Italian Manuel Lucchese the "Bad-Days-Series" also hold on. He started early in the day - but only 1 km after the start he found out, that the brakes again didn´t work - and also the roadbook-holder broke. So he went back in the camp, waited for the mechanics to fix the bike and re-started in the stage. "But I was one of the last, following the cars now. There was no chance to overtake them, so I followed the cars until the finish. The only good thing is, that my helmet-cam got some nice car-shots today" Lucchese said in the evening.
Jake Smith said had a good day and won the first stage and retained a 28-minute lead. "I took it easy and didn't have to push. My only drama was the battery died in the automatic scroll so I had to scroll it by hand for the last 250km. It was a fun stage, technical, and had everything, washaways, creeks - I enjoyed it."
Rod Faggotter, who won thursday's second stage, said he was riding for fun. "I really enjoyed it. I liked the stages, there was a bit of everything. The tracks were open and flowing, it was tricky to navigate so I had to be on my game. The bike is going great. I came across a lot of cattle and had to ride around and through herds - it was just like mustering back home!"
In the quads, Honda-rider Paul Smith still comfortably holds the lead with almost an hour to spare but he said today wasn't without drama. "50 km into the last stage today I lost my front brakes, so I had to ride 250 km with no brakes. I had a few sketchy moments, there were close calls with gutters and I couldn't pull the quad up fast enough - I was having memories of last year when I broke my leg. Otherwise the stages were awesome and technical."
Friday the Australasian Safari competition moves to Jimba Jimba Station, Winderie Station, Wooramel River, Hamelin on the coast between Carnarvon and Kalbarri and then south to the Murchison river finishing in Kalbarri. The 431 km of competitive stages includes red dunes, fences, saltbush flats, river crossings and typical rough outback station roads.
2012/09/27 | 15:02 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PITTAWAY