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