Safari 2011 – Leg 6
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.
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
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.
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.