Bathurst moto rider Ben Grabham finished Leg Five of the Australasian Safari without a hitch, finishing ten minutes ahead of the pack but others weren’t so fortunate, with third fastest Rod Faggotter skinning a tree, and Matt Fish, in fourth fastest position, going over the top of his bike in another action-packed day totalling 411 competitive kilometres.
Ben said his strategy to ride to conserve fuel on the 250km stage paid off.
“I enjoyed the stages today, but even though we’ve finished pretty early this afternoon, it seems like a long day. The bike is going well so I’ll just hope for a trouble-free day tomorrow.
Rod said it wasn’t his best day. He had problems with his navigation scroll which meant he couldn’t read the course properly and he came off his bike.
“Then in the last stage I smacked into a tree and hurt my hand. I dislocated a couple of fingers, put one back in but I don’t really know how badly I damaged it. It slowed me down because I couldn’t use the brakes properly and I couldn’t stand up because I couldn’t put any weight on it. Ze Helio and Fishy both went past me. Fishy ran out of fuel so I caught up with him but I’ve lost time.
Fish lamented on what he described as a terrible day.
“I ran out of fuel in the first section and then I went over the handle bars in the second. I hit a tree root. Luckily there were only 30km to go on the stage, because it shook me up a bit,” he said.
Fish wasn’t alone, with Kalgoorlie rider Warren Strange also going over the top of his bike 13km into Stage 11.
“There was a tight windy bit along the edge of the lake and no markings on my scroll. I spent more time than I should looking down at it and when I looked up again it was too late to avoid a big hole. I went over the handle bars and the bike landed on top of me.
“I feel like something the cat dragged in about a week ago and the bike is a bit of a mess. The lights are smashed, the navigation system is wrecked. But I’ll be right for Dakar.“
Todd Smith is still in second fastest position and said the course provided a mix of conditions.
“I cruised through the stages today. Because it was so tight and twisty, I used more fuel than normal, but I made it through the 250km stage with fuel to spare. The last 30km of that stage were really rough. There was debris everywhere.
“The first 50km of the last stage were some of the best we’ve had. The flat salt lakes are my favourite – its open but still twisty. Its more predictable. Then the next bit was full of re-growth saplings and it was hard to navigate.
One competitor who had a great run today was Brazilian Ze Helio who placed third in Special Stage 12, and fourth in Special Stage 11. He is unlikely to be in the running for a top placing however, having been forced to concede a five hour penalty in Leg Two for having to do a full service on his bike on the first marathon day.
In the quads, Colin Lawson has had a great first stage on his Can Am Renegade 500, travelling fastest in the first stage 49 minutes ahead of John Maragozidis and 58 minutes in front of Paul Smith, however electrical problems in the second stage of the day added time back on. Smith is still in fastest overall position.
Tomorrow is the penultimate day of Safari 2010 and competitors will ride south to the beautiful coastal town of Esperance, with sand dunes likely to be prominent as the event moves closer to the Southern Ocean.
Considered one of the world’s great endurance events, the Australasian Safari is travelling from Southern Cross in the wheatbelt through to the historic Western Australian goldfields, desert, rugged bush and coastal sand dunes.