Australasian Safari 2011


30.9.2011 – Safari Leg 7 – Victory!

GHR Honda rider Todd Smith’s early stranglehold on the Australasian Safari proved to be decisive as he claimed his first outright victory in the race on Friday 30 September in Kalgoorlie. Leading the contest from day one, Todd had ridden a calculated race and enjoyed a trouble free run aboard his GHR developed CRF450X to finish with a 20 minute lead. His younger brother Jacob Smith finished in second place overall to make it the best possible combination for the GHR, for Honda and for the Condobolin Smith family.

Rider comments:

Todd Smith: “It feels great to finally be on top. I’ve learned a lot in the last two years and most of all you have to start well to finish well in this race. I put my head down and rode smart in the first two stages to lead by a few minutes. From there I rode just hard enough to stay in front but with enough care to stay safe. My body feels 100% after this one, whereas every other year I’ve gone home with injuries. This has been a fairytale podium. To have my little brother Jacob in second and our good mate Rod Faggotter in third, I just couldn’t have asked for more!”

Jacob Smith: “Obviously I race to win and I would have liked to win this time, but it was Todd’s turn this year – he rode an immaculate race. All the work that I put in on and off the bike this year has paid dividends. Rod (Faggotter) joked when he and I were at the start line on Leg 2 behind Todd that it would be brilliant if we finished in this order. I would have liked it if some of the other title contenders made it to the end, but we know that this race is rarely won on in the last day or two. The Safari is normally won in the first four days so I can easily say that Todd put himself in the perfect position early on and made all the right choices from that point onwards. I’m immensely proud of the way he ran it and that we could go one-two. With Rod in third, I really couldn’t share this with two finer blokes. After everything that has happened with passing of Glenn Hoffmann’s father, there’s no better way to give him, his family and the GHR crew a lift.”

Comment from Glenn Hoffmann:

“This month has been an emotional roller coaster for my family. However, in terms of the team this result has been really, really good for everyone. The boys controlled this race from the very beginning and I saw a level of maturity that shows just how much they have grown. They played the game but always kept some in reserve, and they worked together. I’d like to point out that everyone did this without me. Obviously I wasn’t there, but this result has proven that I don’t need to be. They all knew what they had to do and they followed through with it perfectly. I’d spoken to Jake Young three weeks before and I had asked him to be team manager in anticipation of things happening at home so when the time came I left town not at all concerned. My wife Linda and I do so much work on this before the event, but once it’s actually started I’m the least important person. That’s the way we’ve set it up – the mechanics all know their roles. As part of the growth planned for this company I do need to step back and rely on my crew, so to have everything work so well was no surprise. With this core group, if  we can get the funding then there is huge potential for us overseas.”

GHR rider placings at race end:
1st – #2 Todd Smith – 27:35:27
2nd – #6 Jacob Smith – 27:55:31
10th – #27 David Geeves – 31:01:12
13th – #35 Charlie Ball – 33:51:06
20th – #40 Stuart Bowen – 37:22:32
21st – #25 Don Lark – 37:38:40


29.9.11 – Safari 2011 leg 6 wrap up

As the sun sets on the penultimate leg of the 2011 Australasian Safari, GHR Honda riders Todd and Jacob Smith are still dominating the event on their CRF450X bikes developed in Mittagong, NSW.

Most of the other likely challengers have been beset by mechanical failure or injury, including Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres who retired from the race this afternoon having sustained a lacerated foot. While Jacob Smith set the fastest time in the event prologue, it is his older brother who finished on top of the rankings for Leg 1 and has since maintained a sound lead through attentive navigation and judicious tactics.

Today’s leg consisted of two selective stages. SS12 Sturt Meadows I, a 236.42 km section which included a series of derelict roads and an optional splash and dash refuel. The 141.12km long SS13 Sturt Meadows II varied between roach station tracks and numerous fast flowing sections, finishing with a salt lake crossing.

Rider comments:

Todd Smith: “This morning I rode just to get through SS12 but I was surprised – I wasn’t actually much slower. When I saw the gap I had I backed off even more. Tomorrow if nothing goes wrong with the bike I should be right. I’m still really enjoying myself but I do find it tricky to walk that fine line between being careful and being too slow without the pressure.”

Jacob Smith: “Today we were just in a holding pattern. It was about consolidation, looking after the bike and getting it to the end. By this stage, everything hurts and there’s absolutely no use in binning it on the last days in pursuit of a few more minutes.”

Overall top 5 at end of Leg 6:
1st – #2 Todd Smith – 25:18:43
2nd – #6 Jacob Smith – 25:36:26
3rd – #56 Rod Faggotter – 26:14:02
4th – #72 Damien Grabham – 27:10:53
5th – #41 Ben Williams – 27:56:04

Other GHR riders:
10th – #27 David Geeves – 29:30:43
13th – #35 Charlie Ball – 31:07:46
14th – #25 Don Lark – 31:44:18
22nd – #40 Stuart Bowen – 34:47:01


29.9.11 – Safari 2011 Leg 6 – update #2

Todd Smith, Shane Dieter and Jacob Smith have filed past the second spectator point, with both GHR riders appearing to take it easy through the gate and past the spectators. Cyril Despres appears to be out of the race and has ridden past on the main road behind the  parked cars, presumably headed back to Leonora.

29.9.11 – Safari 2011 Leg 6 – update

We are currently sitting at the second of the spectator points for the day overlooking a surrounded by paddocks carpeted with yellow flowers. We watched the whole bike field and the first few cars at the first point about 35km from Leonora. The Smith boys looked in fine form as they rounded the gates and took off down the fence line, and all other GHR riders came through cleanly.

Glen Grundy flew out to Kalgoorlie this morning after a stay in hospital overnight. He will be assessed and a course of action planned. We hope he can at least stay in Kalgoorlie to see the finish of the event.

The day has claimed at least one bike through mechanical failure already. We’ll post an update as soon as the bikes come through here.


28.9.11 – Safari Leg 5 wrap up

Leg 5 between Laverton and Leonora was a fateful day for many more of the moto competitors. It was the first marathon leg of the Safari, where no team servicing is permitted and the riders must be self sufficient to solve mechanical problems.

Yamaha mounted Shane Diener led out of the gate this morning for the 86.08km road section to the SS10 Minigwal stage, followed by GHR riders Jacob and Todd Smith. Through the 215.35km stage held on fast station tracks Diener set impressive pace at the front, and gained time on the Condobolin brothers. However, following the mid-leg refuel, Diener was rendered immobile by mechanical issues during the 164.24km SS11 Yundamindra stage. This returned the Condobolin brothers to the top two positions overall and Yamaha rider Rod Faggotter moved into third. Knowing that their competition was faltering, both riders rode the rest of the day with self preservation first and foremost on their minds.

There were some who came to grief and the helicopters were kept busy with medical evacuations. In an awfully ironic way, the Safari is over for South African Glen Grundy having been accidentally omitted from the standings posted for Leg 4. Glen has crashed in ruts and fractured his clavicle. He is to be flown to Kalgoorlie for assessment and possible treatment. The remaining 6 GHR bikes will all start tomorrow after end of day servicing.

Rider comments:

Jacob Smith: “Shane was definitely on a run today through that first section! I was going as hard as I dared, but he was too quick to catch and completely deserved to win that one. Later when I saw he’d had problems and stopped I backed right off.

Todd Smith: “The first selective this morning was a rerun of a stage from 2009 I think, and it was just as hard as last time. The second stage had plenty to catch you out and once I saw Shane was out I definitely slowed down and rode for a secure finish rather than a fast one.

Stuart Bowen: “I actually found today easier than previous days. I got stuck in some dust when Don Lark had finished his brakes and Annie Seel was hanging behind and looked like she didn’t want to pass. I decided I was safer out of their dust and went by. I’m just wanting to finish and it seems like a race of attrition at times! My folks are traveling with me which is great for support and certainly gives them a different kind of holiday.”

Overall top 5 at end of Leg 5:
1st – #2 Todd Smith – 21:06:07
2nd – #6 Jacob Smith – 21:18:21
3rd – #56 Rod Faggotter – 21:51:36
4th – #5 Cyril Despres – 22:17:25
5th – #72 Damien Grabham – 22:46:45

Other GHR riders:
10th – #27 David Geeves – 24:50:07
14th – #25 Don Lark – 26:15:08
16th – #35 Charlie Ball – 26:19:51
26th – #40 Stuart Bowen – 29:52:37

28.9.11 – Leg 5 update

The GHR Honda fuel carrier is at the morning refuel point running on the BGAN Explorer 500.

Just an addendum on the Leg 4 wrap up from yesterday. South African #8 rider Glen Grundy was omitted from the outgoing press release but he is definitely still circulating. As of the end of yesterday he was in 30th position with a total time of 24:30:40.

We’re waiting to see if the flying finish for the stage ends up being cut short of the refuel. We’ve been told by the stewards at the stop control that the zero car has been held up with a flat tyre. If there’s a risk of the front runners catching the car before it arrives at the fuel stop the stage may be cut short. We’ll keep you posted on the progress.


27.9.11 – Safari Leg 4

Leg 4 is done and dusted, and with three days of the 2011 Safari remaining GHR rider Todd Smith still has a solid hold on the lead.

The day comprised three special stages.

The 85.31km SS7 Lehmann Loop ventured eastwards after traversing technical mining roads, and a 2.17km road section brought the riders to the start of SS8 Cosmo. The middle of this 129.55km selective featured a fast section of bends with ruts and multiple erosion warnings. Another short road section lead to the final SS9 Great Victoria stage was a 241.21km and varied mix of station tracks, mine roads, sand dunes, rock sections and boggy areas.

Rider comments:

Todd Smith: “Another good day up front. Shane Diener pulled some time on me today I think. We definitely did some revving today! You be flat out for 10ks straight, then turn and have the same again and again. The leading three remained fairly close to the finish, but it feels good to be where I want to be.”

Jacob Smith: “I really couldn’t have done that second stage any quicker today. I was picking the corners early and just nailing them all the way round. Today was seriously fun – the sections with the bends just had incredible grip because of the rains recently. Dead set, if riders didn’t enjoy today they really shouldn’t be riding a bike. It’s Todd’s race to lose now but we’re going to keep working together and we’ll see how Shane goes with some pressure from us behind while he’s leading.”

Overall top 5 at end of Leg 4:
1st – #2 Todd Smith – 17:05:57
2nd – #6 Jacob Smith – 17:15:50
3rd – #31 Shane Diener – 17:16:19
4th – #56 Rod Faggotter – 17:35:19
5th – #5 Cyril Despres – 18:06:14

Other GHR riders:
9th #27 David Geeves – 19:58:56
15th – #25 Don Lark – 21:13:20
17th – #35 Charlie Ball – 21:30:08
32nd – #40 Stuart Bowen – 24:58:59


26.9.11 – Safari Leg 3 wrap up

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.”


26.9.11 – Leg 3 update from refuel

All GHR riders have been in to refuel. Todd Smith came in first in good shape and his only issue was his rear brakes were finished. Jacob was in next – he’s had a tumble over the bars but fueled up and got moving quickly. Yamaha rider Shane Diener was in next followed by Cyril Despres and Damien Grabham rounding up the first 5 arrivals.

Matt Fish came in with his rear tyre mounted around his waist and will incur a penalty for mounting a new tyre and mousse. We are also told that Ben Grabham has a blow engine and is stuck mid selective.

There have been at least another dozen riders and a couple of quads in too. Craig Lowndes and one of the Coconut Resort cars has arrived, so the rest of the moto competitors will have been passed by at least two cars.

More as it comes to hand.

GHR Honda, internet in the outback!

The GHR refuel vehicle is currently set up at the Nambi splash and dash point for Leg 3, connected to the world via satellite communications provided by Allsatphones. The service crew are carrying two Inmarsat satellite handsets and use of a Thrane & Thrane BGAN Explorer 500 base unit for data and voice.

We hope to keep you all posted on the action from the day when the boys all come in for refuel. They are not expected for some time yet.

Stay tuned!