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Safari 2012 – Leg 7

Australia’s toughest offroad event, the Australasian Safari 2012 has been run and won again by GHR Honda’s Jacob Smith aboard his CRF450X.

Two short beach stages concluded the approximately 3,500 competitive kilometres and brought the field south to Geraldton. 24 year old Jacob Smith dominated from day 1 and never looked back until the race finish. With one previous win and multiple podiums, Jacob’s experience and a cool head allowed a measured ride from the very beginning and by the end of the race his 31 minute lead had become unassailable.

Jacob Smith: “It’s a weird feeling this time around. I’ve been in this position before but I really wanted to do it for myself this year after missing the gig to Dakar. I haven’t had the best season to my standards this year and a lot of people have been talking about my form. I had a point to prove this week and I believe I could have done it no matter who was here. I had no issues, no crashes, this bike did everything it was supposed to and at the end of the race I feel great. It’s really satisfying this year.”

Following Jacob into second place is 47 year old veteran rider Warren Strange who had approached this race as a testing ground for his GHR developed CRF450X Dakar Rally bike before his second attempt at Dakar next year. Despite his policy of not taking risks, Strange finished over one and half hours ahead of third place.

Warren Strange: “I’ve done this event before but this is by far my best result. I feel like I got lucky this year with some absentees who’d normally be standing where I am but the bike was beautiful to ride and made all the difference.”

South African rider Brett Cummings (29) finished in fourth place overall, but importantly took out the Dakar Challenge – a sub-category victory at Safari which will pay his entry to the 2013 Dakar Rally. It’s an especially pleasing result for Cummings after he was unable to start Safari last year through injury, making this is his first multi-day navigational event.

Brett Cummings: “Today I was supposed to be taking it easy but you can’t ride slow in the sand. I had a big crash in the second stage today but I’m fine. The whole event was awesome. I learned so much coming to this race. Todd and Jake (Smith) gave me a lot of advise and the organisation and people were wonderful. I’m so pleased I came back.”

Compatriot Guy Henley placed ninth overall and put a fourth GHR Honda CRF450X in the top ten. Also from South Africa is journeyman Glen Grundy (48) who successfully conquered Safari after bowing out due to injury last year. 2011 Safari title holder Todd Smith also finished but was way down the order in last place due to time penalties.

In the quad division, Paul Smith had stamped his authority on the race early on and finished on his Honda TRX700XX more than an hour ahead of his nearest rival.

Paul Smith: “I was supposed to be taking it easy today but I cleaned up a sheep on the beach! I pulled over and picked him up, moved him to the bush and watched him run off. But I did it. Today was pure just enjoyment and I’m ready for the second week. Can we go again?”

Team owner Glenn Hoffmann brought his prototype buggy home in 17th place amongst the auto division in the vehicle’s Safari debut.

Glenn Hoffmann: “It’s been a great event for GHR. The results are superb and having the new bike bike come second with a client is very pleasing. Yes it’s been unfortunate for Todd but I guess it was just Jake’s turn this year. Paul did his thing and topped the quads and the buggy went well. Personally the course was enjoyable and from a team point of view we couldn’t has asked for more without getting greedy and taking all three. But that’s motorsport!”

Final results for GHR:

MOTO
1st – #2 SMITH Jake – 24:56:25
2nd – #7 STRANGE Warren – 25:27:11
4th – #8 CUMMINGS Brett (D) – 28:39:18
9th – #23 HENLEY Guy – 29:06:08
21st – #22 GRUNDY Glen (D) – 38:00:25
27th – #1 SMITH Todd (D) – 50:58:27

QUAD
1st – #92 SMITH Paul – 30:52:19

AUTO
17th – #178 HOFFMANN Glenn – 43:14:40

Tonight the riders all get to relax and reflect on another year at Safari. It’s been a very successful event for the team and is the fifth time in six Safaris that Honda bikes have won the event.

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Safari 2012 – Leg 6

At the end of Leg 6 – the penultimate day of the Australasian Safari and the last long day of racing – GHR Honda’s Jacob Smith is closing in on a second Safari victory. For the last two days Smith has been riding a defensive race, with team mate Warren Strange less than 30 minutes behind. The 429km course retraced some ground covered in Leg 2 but this time in reverse, and the riders found markedly changed road conditions since their first passage on Monday. American rider Mike Johnson is reportedly doing well after his crash yesterday.

Rider comments:

Jacob Smith: “Today I did what I had to do. I struggled to get into it early on, but I remained careful. I really wasn’t riding flat out anywhere, but at the one point I when was riding hard there was a seriously close encounter with an emu. It was nearly race over after it appeared from nowhere and brushed the front wheel and my leg as I passed by. Scary stuff, but other than that I had a clear run. Tomorrow morning we have an 18km section and then a reverse of the first stage as we run back to Geraldton. I still have to get through the day but we’re so close.”

Paul Smith: “I had a real go in the first stage. It was just like a roller coaster ride so I loved it. Up and over the crests of hills and then down into sandy corners, this is was plain good fun. I caught up with Heath Young who started in front of me. He had an issue with his starter motor in the second stage, but my lead was so secure that I spent the day riding with him and tow starting him. I rode behind him just in case he needed help. In the third stage I started to hear a noise in the rear end of the bike so we switched roles, him riding behind to watch out for me. We worked with each other and enjoyed the ride. I know nobody is going to break my lead by out riding me and we’re happy with our positions. After all the ground we’ve covered we want us both to finish and that’s why this event is so good.”

Brett Cummings: “The first and the second stages were really good for me. I’d caught up to 4th outright and I was determined not to take any chances. I was concerned about some engine noise at the 100km mark in the last stage so I crossed my fingers and toes and rode gently to the end. The route is certainly rougher now, but it was cleared out having had the cars down it earlier in the race. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Leg 7 will bring the riders home to the finish line in Geraldton via two short beach sprints once they leave Kalbarri.

GHR positions at the end of Leg 6:

MOTO
1st – #2 SMITH Jake – 24:17:16
2nd – #7 STRANGE Warren – 24:46:16
4th – #8 CUMMINGS Brett (D) – 27:00:28
9th – #23 HENLEY Guy – 28:42:53
21st – #22 GRUNDY Glen (D) – 37:02:52
27th – #1 SMITH Todd (D) – 50:13:16

QUAD
1st – #92 SMITH Paul – 26:11:12