SS5 and SS6 made Leg 3 a long and brutal day for the all competitors. Repairs and servicing are continuing into the night at the Laverton bivouac.

Stage lengths
SS5 Altona 242.70km
SS6 Darlot 317.94km

Damien Grabham was fastest in SS5, followed by Cyril Despres, Matthew Fish and then GHR riders Todd Smith and Jacob Smith. The bikes were serviced, fuelled and sent on their way for SS6 which included a mid stage refuel at Nambi. Todd Smith fired down the fence that terminated at the refuel point well clear of brother Jacob who had crashed heavily but was still the second to arrive. Jacob’s tumble over the bars left him with an injured foot, but he wasted no time remounting his machine after cleaning his goggles and taking on fuel at the stop.

Yamaha rider Shane Diener was fastest in SS6, followed by Todd Smith, Rod Faggotter Jacob Smith and Ben Williams. Frenchman Cyril Despres also finished down the order for SS6 in 10th for the stage.

All other GHR riders made it through the day which saw a number of medical evacuations and mechanical failures, including last year’s winner Ben Grabham out of contention with an engine failure, and #3 KTM rider Matt Fish ride into refuel with his rear tyre around his waist.

 

Top 6 overall at the end of Leg 3 as follows:
1st – Todd Smith – 12:47:10
2nd – Jacob Smith – 12:57:49
3rd – Shane Diener – 13:01:35
4th – Rod Faggotter – 13:10:27
5th – Damien Grabham – 13:26:27
6th – Cyril Despres – 13:31:27

Other GHR rider overall placings:
10th – David Geeves – 14:50:58
16th – Don Lark – 15:58:01
21st – Charlie Ball – 16:44:28
27th – Glen Grundy – 18:50:42
29th – Stuart Bowen – 19:36:05

Rider comments:

#2 Todd Smith: “Today was a great day. I just cruised in the first special and didn’t take risks knowing it was a long day. The second selective stage was more difficult especially since I rode most of it with no rear brakes. Again, finding the way was hard but they were fast tracks. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me so I slowed down to ensure that I didn’t miss any calls. The lack of mistakes certainly made up for my slower riding. I’m very happy.”

#35 Charlie Ball: “This was my first big day. You really need to prepare for these ones with plenty of food and water. You need to prepare for anything, even getting lost. Even though today was supposed to be more flowing, there was plenty to contend with for someone in my position in the field. Many of the tracks were sandy, but we had a bit of everything.”