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.



24.9.11 – Safari Leg 1 wrap up

The Smith brothers have opened the 2011 Australian Safari with a solid 1-2 placing ahead of Rod Faggotter in third overall for the day.

The Condobolin brothers arrived in very good time for a relaxed fuel stop at Mullewa just after 7.30 this morning, and were the first two to appear at the service in Yalgoo following 183.45 competitive kilometres in SS1. Both riders took the stage relatively gently and later recounted a stage that was overgrown for most of the way with numerous washouts to test the reflexes and make navigation challenging. At about the 60km mark Ben Grabham surged forwards and passed Jacob who had started just ahead, but dropped back after crashing in a heavily overgrown section of the course.

At service, Jake’s bike was fitted with a new rear wheel, but otherwise the #2 and #6 Honda CRF450X machines were running superbly. All other GHR Honda riders arrived in due course. WA local Charlie Ball stopped to render assistance to a fallen quad rider he found unconscious but moved on a few minutes later when the rider came to. South African Glen Grundy was hit from behind by KTM690 mounted American Seth Strait, but both riders were able to continue. David Geeves crashed heavily, but regrouped and continued the race.

Todd and Jacob Smith moved the pace up a notch with SS2 and finished the day in first and second place, securing first and second overall ahead of Rod Faggotter, Ben Grabham and Dakar Rally race winner Cyril Despres from France. On a day that Jacob described as being very difficult to lead, Todd’s advantage of just over 3 minutes is a great start to the 2011 event.

Stage SS1 times:
2nd – Todd Smith – 01:56:46
5th – Jacob Smith – 01:58:17

Stage SS2 times:
1st – Todd Smith – 02:24:07
2nd – Jacob Smith – 02:25:48

Overall top 6 standings as follows:
1st – Todd Smith – 04:20:53
2nd – Jacob Smith – 04:24:05
3rd – Rod Faggotter – 04:25:41
4th – Ben Grabham – 04:26:33
5th – Matt Fish – 04:28:11
6th – Cyril Despres – 04:29:09

Tomorrow’s stages to Sandstone comprise just over 320km of competitive riding and a short transport of roughly 70km. At the time of writing the bikes are being serviced and the riders are marking up their roadbooks.

Some more pics from the day.