Australasian Safari 2012


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:

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

1st – #92 SMITH Paul – 30:52:19

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.


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:

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

1st – #92 SMITH Paul – 26:11:12


Safari 2012 – Leg 5

Leg 5 of the 2012 Australasian Safari consisted of a looping anticlockwise circumnavigation of the Bidgemia Station to the north east of the overnight bivouac at Gascoyne Junction. SS11 Gascoyne’s 147.25km opened with fast rally roads before switching to rougher and less defined station tracks. GHR Honda #10 rider Michael Johnson (USA) crashed out and was sadly forced out of the event just as he was finding his stride. SS12 Bidgemia was a much longer 301.39km and scattered the field as riders contended with now disused tracks littered with hidden rocks. By day’s end, GHR frontrunner Jacob Smith’s lead stood at over 25 minutes despite his conservative approach as the race end has come in site. GHR quad rider Paul Smith remains comfortably in front of the quad field even after becoming lost and riding without his front brakes for a large portion of the day. South African national #8 Brett Cummings had a solid day and recovered from a navigation error to assume both the lead of the Dakar Challenge for this year and 5th place overall.

Rider comments:

Jacob Smith: “I was having a ball today. The first stage was tough mentally, riding into the sun with so many things that could catch you out. The track was overgrown and littered with rocks. It seemed like it went forever and navigation was very complex. The stage in the afternoon was really awesome fun but mentally it was draining. I know what it feels like to win, and what it means to the team. While it’s very easy to start thinking I’ve got it wrapped up I have to remind myself there’s still so much racing yet to come with another day to go tomorrow. Whenever those thoughts start to build I just have to snap myself out of it. One little mistake can be disastrous. It’s a nice feeling to know that even though I’m taking it easy I’m still setting good times, and the pace that works for me is still fast enough to protect my position. Rod would have won the day had he not stopped to wait for someone but in terms of stage wins I have nothing to prove right now. I’m working on the end game. I’m also happy to be leading out in the morning. I know how to navigate and it means I have no chance of getting sucked in to making someone else’s mistakes.”

Brett Cummings: “It was a long day again today. The terrain was very similar to Namibia and Botswana back home. I thoroughly enjoyed it and had no issues. In the second stage I got lost for about 10 minutes at about the 45km mark. Once I worked it out I got on it really hard and passed a few bikes. I came across one of the Dutch riders who had crashed heavily and decided to back off from there. Towards the end of the stage I saw Vern Strange broken down and that convinced me to take it even easier. There are now about 50 minutes between myself and 6th outright, and importantly I am now leading the Dakar Challenge. I’m comfortable taking whatever I can as an outright position, but I am focussed on taking out the Dakar Challenge.

Standings for GHR riders at end of Leg 5:

1st – #2 SMITH Jake – 19:35:52
2nd – #7 STRANGE Warren – 20:04:07
5th – #8 CUMMINGS Brett (D) – 22:08:27
10th – #23 HENLEY Guy – 23:07:59
22nd – #22 GRUNDY Glen (D) – 29:39:50
30th – #1 SMITH Todd (D) – 45:36:33

1st – #92 SMITH Paul – 24:42:31

Summary of Leg 5 from the Australasian Safari website.


Safari 2012 – Leg 4

After a relatively long rest a sleep in this morning the Safari field left the coast and ventured westwards into the Kennedy Range. Fast paced station tracks made up most of the 155.66km SS9 Cooralya stage. A short transport section took competitors across to the start of the SS10 Kennedy Range and the south westerly run to Gascoyne Junction bivouac. Whereas speed had been the game in the first stage, creek crossings littered with round boulders and sharp rock steps tested riders and machinery throughout SS10. Lead GHR Honda rider Jacob Smith was happy to be second on road this morning after finishing yesterday’s 3 stages 29 seconds behind Yamaha rider Rod Faggotter. However he rapidly found himself assuming the role of course vanguard after Faggotter stopped with mechanical issues. Jacob topped the times for both stages to extend his lead in the race and Warren Strange, initially third on road, also advanced to claim third for the day and second position overall. GHR’s Todd Smith rejoined the field today with time penalties, and while he is out of the running for the title this year he logged the second fastest times for both sections.

Overseas nationals Brett Cummings (SA), Mike Johnson (USA) and Glen Grundy (SA) all climbed the order and Guy Henley (SA) retained his 12th place in the moto positions.

Paul Smith has built buffer of over an hour protecting his lead in the quads having enjoyed a trouble free day on his TRX700XX.

Overall standings for GHR riders at the end of Leg 4:

1st – #2 SMITH, Jake – 14:41:03
2nd – #7 STRANGE, Warren – 15:03:21
5th – #8 CUMMINGS, Brett – 16:38:03
7th – #10 JOHNSON, Michael – 16:50:14
12th – #23 HENLEY, Guy – 17:24:20
23rd – #22 GRUNDY, Glen – 22:25:10
33rd – #1 SMITH, Todd – 40:29:47

1st – #92 SMITH, Paul – 18:14:48

Rider comments:

Jacob Smith: “I had an excellent day with no issues and I was just riding at a comfortable pace. I passed Rod (Faggotter) about 9km when he’d stopped but the bike was a dream to ride in this stuff. It was so comfortable with all the creek crossings and boulders. This thing makes my job easier when I have such confidence in it and I’m really happy with how I rode. After yesterday I worked hard on my mindset this morning. I started with a clear head and tried to stop my mind wandering, knowing that my main rival was out of the running. I’ve talked before about putting myself in the right position to win half way through. I did that today so the rest of the race is about taking care of myself.”

Todd Smith: It’s good to be back on the bike and getting into it again. I’m just having fun now and I stuck with Warren once I caught him in the stage.”

Warren Strange: “I made a mistake and took a tumble today, but didn’t damage myself of the bike. The rest of the day just was about keeping things that way.”

Tomorrow the riders face two stages tomorrow, commencing the day the 147.25km SS11 Gascoyne stage before embarking on the 301.39km SS12 Bidgemia stage. Both sections involve complex navigation, numerous cautions and changes in terrain before they return to Gascoyne Junction for the second time.


Safari 2012 – Leg 3

Pictures from Leg 3 SS7 Ningaloo.


Safari 2012 – Leg 2

In what proved to be a costly day for 9 Safari competitors, GHR Honda rider Jacob Smith consolidated his Leg 1 position to build a lead of just over 16 minutes over Matthew Fish. SS4 Kalbarri’s overgrown tracks tore at the riders as they navigated through 230km of coastal farmland to service at Hamelin. The riders found the 260km SS5 Wooramel River stage less punishing but nonetheless eventful. Warren Strange dropped down the order due to navigation and #22 South African rider Glen Grundy had a close encounter with another vehicle at speed.

Rider comments:

Jacob Smith: “It was too overgrown this morning for anything crazy. I kept it clean and safe so Shane (Diener) pulled 3 minutes or so on me. In the second stage at about the 40km he’d crashed and hurt himself. I rode alone at the front all day.”

Glen Grundy: “To summarise today, they gave us a lot of work for a Monday. 9 hours on the bike in total. At home we call this sort of terrain an “LSD” – long sandy drag. The only difference here was being whipped in the arms while doing it and it made it tricky to find a good rhythm. The afternoon was fast. I was shunted from behind at over 100kph but I think the driver got just as much of a fright as I did because he saw it all about to happen. Thankfully it all worked out fine.”

Brett Cummings: “I was getting beaten up in SS4, so I took it easy. SS5 I was doing well and caught 6th on road. At the 125km mark I got completely lost. With so few on the road in front I had little in the way of tracks to guide me. I finally worked it out and caught up with another group. When Guy Henley stopped I compared notes with him and verified where we were in the road book.”

Paul Smith: “I staked another tyre today with 150km to go. It also took out the balls, and because it was a rear I had to leave it and run on 3 legs so it wasn’t so comfortable. Still, I’m leading the quads so I’m happy.”

Glenn Hoffmann: “I had a good day today. I didn’t want to run out of fuel so I couldn’t drive as hard as I’d like. Still, looking at some of the damaged cars by the side of the road I’m fortunate all I had to worry about was fuel.

Tomorrow the field are in store for two stages of stunning coastline and sand dunes as they head north for the first splash and dash at Warroora. Service crews will meet the vehicles at Minilya before the racing starts again for the 198km Hayley stage.

Overall GHR class standings at end of Leg 2.

1st- #2 SMITH, Jake – 07:03:03
4th – #7 STRANGE, Warren – 07:22:15
8th – #10 JOHNSON, Michael (D) – 08:15:01
9th – #8 CUMMINGS, Brett (D) – 08:16:27
12th – #23 HENLEY, Guy – 08:31:34
26th – #22 GRUNDY, Glen (D) – 11:11:22

1st – #92 SMITH, Paul – 08:55:49

15th – #178 HOFFMAN, Glenn – BUGGY – 10:40:29


Safari 2012 – Leg 1

Competitors were treated to a seabreeze and perfect clear skies today throughout the 3 timed sections between Geraldton and Kalbarri. GHR Honda rider Warren Strange was first on road at 6.30am for the SS1 Coronation North 18.21km beach run. The stage was won by KTM rider Matt Fish, closely followed by GHR riders Todd Smith, brother Jacob and Warren Strange all less than a minute behind. In the quad division GHR rider Paul Smith came in 10 seconds behind Glenn Brown for second place.

Strange arrived at the end 106.75km of the SS2 Whelarra stage 03.28 ahead of Jacob Smith. Shane Diener followed in third, but Todd Smith succumbed to engine troubles and DNF’d the stage. He’s now out of contention for an second Safari win this year and also the Dakar challenge, but he will continue tomorrow and try to help the other team members. In the quads, Paul Smith dropped to third place due to a puncture.

Leaving the coastal sand for some tighter running and trickier navigation, the field turned inland for the 76.36km SS3 Murchison Off Road stage. This traced along the dry bed of the Murchison River and challenged riders with ongoing sections of tight corners. Strange missed a turn and lost a minute making good, but Jacob Smith pushed ahead to make up some useful time. Paul Smith recovered some time after replacing his punctured tyre to end up second in the quad division.

Overall GHR class standings at end of Leg 1.

1st – #2 Jacob Smith – M3.2 – 02:12:42
2nd – #7 Warren Strange – M3.2 – 02:13:20
8th – #8 Brett Cummings (SA) – M2.2 – 02:32:25
11th – #10 Mike Johnson (USA) – M3.2 – 02:38:44
14th – #23 Guy Henley (SA) – M2.2 – 02:40:19
27th – #22 Glen Grundy (SA) – M2.2 – 03:21:03

2nd – #92 Paul Smith – Q1.2 – 02:47:08

18th – #178 Glenn Hoffmann – BUGGY – 03:09:46

Rider comments:

Jacob Smith: “The sand in SS1 was great fun. I caught Shane in SS2 and I’ll be really interested to see the times for SS3. It was tight but I nailed it.”

Warren Strange: “SS1 was great fun. I made no mistakes other than finding my way down to the waterline at just the right time to be swamped by a wave. In SS2 I missed a turn, found the track quickly and kept going but another error in SS3 cost me about a minute. I’m running well but really not wanting to take risks. I felt right at home in the sand.”

Brett Cummings: “A good day! SS1 navigation in the sand was pretty simple but in SS2 it was harder. I loved the tight conditions in SS3.”

Paul Smith: “The sand and whoops in SS1 were draining and looking at the tracks all over the place people were making mistakes. I made some myself but did OK. A flat front tyre in SS2 slowed me down. I have to say SS3 was one of the best stages I’ve ever been on. More of that please!

Mike Johnson: “I had a clean ride, no problems, I didn’t crash into anything so I’m happy. I stopped to help someone for a couple of minutes too. I wasn’t so keen on the beach section but the tight tracks later were excellent.”

Guy Henley: “A good day out. I admit I was nervous about roos in the beginning. I’m still learning but the sand is very similar to the conditions we race in at home. Tomorrow I’ll keep a constant pace and see what we can pick off.”

Glen Grundy: “I found the beach tricky – it wasn’t always a clear track as such, just a series of trails behind the first dune and very slippery. Once I got off the sand it was brilliant. I picked up a few spots, but having passed 3 mechanical failures I can’t say it’s all talent. I rode with Tamsin Jones for a long while today. She was without fuel at the splash and dash so I gave her some to keep her going. The riverbed was different to what we know from home, crossing it back and forth rather than riding straight down a canyon. All smiles today.”

Glenn Hoffmann: “2004 was the last time I was racing personally, so this is a nice change. I’m still getting to know the car so tomorrow I’ll just keep on driving it and see how we go.”

Tomorrow’s Leg 2 Kalbarri – Carnarvon will be a long day for competitors and crews with two timed stages. SS4 Kalbarri consists of 230.35kms of mixed terrain and farm tracks before service at Hamelin. The first half of the 260.62kms SS5 Wooramel River returns to the coast briefly as it rounds Shark Bay Marine Park before breaking inland and heading north.

Glenn Hoffmann - Prologue

Safari 2012 – Prologue results

The 22.44km Australasian Safari Prologue for 2012 has been run and won this afternoon at Glengarry Homestead near Geraldton, and the start order for Leg 1 Geraldton to Kalbarri determined. Western Australian local Warren Strange topped the timing aboard his Honda CRF450X at 17.39. Warren has completed a number of Safaris in previous years, and while he’s treating this event as a training exercise for Dakar he’s very pleased with the result.

“This is the best bike I have ever ridden, and certainly the best Honda that GHR have put out. Today I felt really comfortable on it. I could get it to oversteer anytime I wanted and it’s super stable. The fuel is carried about 14 inches lower than any other bike here and there’s no weight on the steering head. It might be heavier than the other bikes here but the balance makes all the difference. I don’t want to take too many risks after paying all my fees for Dakar. I’ll be happy with a top 10 in Safari.”

Todd Smith finished in equal fourth position with Rod Faggotter and Jacob Smith followed them into sixth position. This leaves them with a relatively clear road going into Leg 1 and less of a burden for navigation going into the first day of proper competition. Victorian quad rider topped the quad class with a time of 19.32 and will start 10th on the road.

Placings and times for GHR entrants:

1st #7 Warren Strange – M3.2 – 17.39
=4th #1 Todd Smith – M3.2 – 18.32
6th #2 Jacob Smith – M3.2 – 19.02
11th #8 Brett Cummings (SA) – M2.2 – 19.51
=14th #23 Guy Henley (SA) – M2.2 – 20.26
23rd #10 Mike Johnson (USA) – M3.2 – 22.20
33rd #22 Glen Grundy (SA) – M2.2 – 24.15

1st #92 Paul Smith – Q1.2 – 19.32

21st #178 Glenn Hoffmann – BUGGY – 23.01


Todd Smith - Prologue

Jacob Smith - Prologue

Warren Strange - Prologue

Brett Cummings - Prologue

Mike Johnson - Prologue

Guy Henley - Prologue

Glen Grundy - Prologue

Glenn Hoffmann - Prologue


Safari 2012 – Prologue

The Australasian Safari 2012 is now under way after a wet and blustery ceremonial start at Hillarys Boat Harbour last night. In spite of the foul conditions an enthusiastic crowd gathered to wave the field off.

Safari competitors are currently setting up bivouac at Geraldton and preparing for Prologue, due to start at 14.30 Perth time. GHR entrants are as follows:

#1 Todd Smith (NSW) – M3.2
#2 Jacob Smith (NSW) – M3.2
#7 Warren Strange (WA) – M3.2
#8 Brett Cummings (SA) – M2.2
#10 Mike Johnson (USA) – M3.2
#22 Glen Grundy (SA) – M2.2
#23 Guy Henley (SA) – M2.2

#92 Paul Smith (VIC) – Q1.2

#178 Glenn Hoffmann (NSW) – BUGGY

GHR Honda team riders Todd and Jacob Smith will be the first to leave bivouac, both embarking on an attempt to win a second Safari, but with Todd defending his title from last year. Comments from Todd Smith:
“We’ve changed our bike setup this year and we’re running a new tank configuration. The bike has definitely come forward and both my training and riding have been going well. We just need everything to come together.”

When asked if he was going to challenge his brother Todd this year after coming second to him in 2011, Jacob simply replied, “of course”. There are no family orders, and Jacob would prefer that he and his brother “switch it around” throughout the event to keep it interesting but knows one-two finish is the best outcome for whomever ends up victorious.

Pictures to come…


Safari 2012 – Ceremonial Start

Some pictures from the stormy evening at Hillarys Boat Harbour.