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.