|Australasian Safari: Who to watch - the stars and participants in Australia.|
Hardened international motorsport champions, rally racing veterans and young motorsport stars of the future will be hitting the West Australian outback for the 2012 Australasian Safari, which will start this weekend near the city of Perth.
This year’s Safari, from 21 to 29 September, has a significantly increased field of auto entries, a new side-by-side category, and the new Dakar Challenge competition where one moto rider will win a free entry to Dakar 2013.
Five-time Australasian Safari champion and off-road rally veteran Bruce Garland who is back after missing last year due to an injury from Dakar 2011 and a heart attack which resulted in bypass surgery. Bruce’s long-time co-driver Harry Suzuki will again be keeping him on course. He’s driving a diesel Isuzu D-Max and is determined to be the first diesel to win Safari.
Young Thai singer and TV star Kiatkamol Lata (known as Tui AF3) will compete in his first Safari, alongside teammate Rachan Trairat who tackled the race for the first time last year. Both will also be competing in Isuzu D-Max utes. Dakar competitor, Venezuelan Nunzio Coffaro, who be driving a Prototype Toyota Hilux.
Geoff Olholm and John Hederics who are firing up a 20-year old rivalry, except this time they’ll each be racing on four wheels. Olholm (Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort Racing Team) and Hederics (Team PWR Holden) were moto rivals over two decades ago when Hederics placed first and Olholm second at the 1992 Australasian Safari which raced from Sydney to Darwin.
Hederics holds a record number of Safari wins - six in moto and three in auto and is back competing after a four year hiatus. Geoff Olholm has made a name for himself overseas in recent years, competing in the Dakar in 2011 and 2012 with a planned start for 2013.
Australian rally champion, Perth’s Rob Herridge, is back for his second Safari, flying the flag for Subaru and Maximum Motorsport in the Production class. He won his class in 2011.
John Purshouse came out of nowhere to claim second place last year, and is a strong contender this year with an improved vehicle benefiting from more preparation and testing.
Mitsubishi Pajero and Isuzu D-MAX are the most popular choices for our auto competitors. Other vehicles entered are Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado, Volkswagen Amarok, Subaru Forrester, Toyota Hilux and a Datsun 260Z.
2011 winner Todd Smith is back to defend his title, coming off a strong run where he placed third in this year’s Finke and first in this year’s Condo 750. Brother Jake Smith will also be racing at the front of the pack ensuring sibling rivalry. Both are racing for GHR Honda. At 24, Jake is one of two youngest Safari competitors.
South Australian David Schwarz on Husaberg is one of Safari’s most experienced competitors. He has an unequalled record of nine Top 10 Safari finishes, and has competed in Dakar three times.
Yamaha rider Shane Diener, also from South Australia, has his sights set on first place in 2012 in his fifth Safari. He is the 10-time winner of the South Australian 24-hour reliability trial and finished second in Condo this year. In 2009 he had his worst luck, hitting a kangaroo and breaking his leg.
Rod Faggotter is back after racing in Dakar 2012. Last year Rod tackled Safari with a broken hand and not only managed to finish but also placed third! He’s the true epitome of the Safari spirit.
Matt Fish is another young but experienced Safari competitor and desert racer. Matt will be riding with the CPW KTM team and is s strong podium contender. Matt won this year’s Indee 500 in Port Hedland and finished fourth at the NT’s Finke Desert Race.
Competing in his second Safari is Italian Manuel Lucchese, riding a Husaberg. A professional rally racer and moto blogger, Manuel is has been competing in the World Cross Country Rallies and raced in Dakar 2012. He has a big following in the off-road racing scene in Italy. At 24, Manuel is the equal youngest rider.
Tamsin Jones from the UK is our only female rider in 2012. Tamsin is a past Dakar competitor and is competing with her partner Craig Bounds, the first Welshman to finish Dakar (2009).
Other international riders: Sjors Van Heertum (Netherlands), Alex van Ginkel (Netherlands), Simon Schimmel (Netherlands), Francesco Beltrami (Italy), Jason Adams (USA), Mike Johnson (USA), Glen Grundy (South Africa), Guy Henley (South Africa), Brett Cummings (South Africa).
Riders registered for the Dakar Challenge are: Todd Smith, Brett Cummings, Michael Johnson, Alex van Ginkel, Sjors Van Heertum, Glen Grundy, Russell Scoble, and Vern Strange. US rider Quinn Cody was entered in Safari but sustained an injury at an event last weekend forcing him to withdraw.
Paul Smith has more than sixteen years of off-road competition experience and has competed in the last three Australasian Safaris - he hasn't missed one since the Quad category was introduced. This year he will be using Safari as preparation for Dakar 2013 as part of the GHR Honda team.
2012/09/18 | 16:48 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/PITTAWAY