Australasian Safari: Ben Grabham prview

Grabham ready for 2008 Safari challenge Defending Australasian Safari motorcycle champion, Ben Grabham, is in top form as he steps up his preparation for this year's seven-day, outback marathon. Riding for the GHR Honda team, Grabham has...

Grabham ready for 2008 Safari challenge

Defending Australasian Safari motorcycle champion, Ben Grabham, is in top form as he steps up his preparation for this year's seven-day, outback marathon.

Riding for the GHR Honda team, Grabham has already won this year's Condo 750 and the Finke Desert Race. So he will go into the August 23 start of the Australasian Safari as the favourite in the bike category.

In 2007, Grabham rode his Honda CRF 450X to a victory of almost nine minutes over the Yamaha of arch rival Jacob Smith. While he says it's difficult to predict a similar result this year, his preparations are going well.

"I was rapt to win back-to-back Finke Desert Races, which has given me plenty of confidence going into the Safari," Grabham said.

"We've already been testing with last year's bike, and making some improvements to that as we go along. In 2007 we only finished the bike two weeks before the race, so hopefully we'll be a little better prepared this year."

The Honda CRF 450X that he'll ride is a different specification bike to that which he ran in the Condo and Finke races. An event as long as the Australasian Safari requires modifications such as long range fuel tanks to ensure the bike is able to cover the extreme distances required each day.

"I'd say the most challenging part of an event like this is the mental challenge of riding every day for seven days," Grabham adds. "You have to get up each morning and go again, and that can be hard.

"You also need to be able to work through your problems along the way. Last year there weren't too many riders who got through without major dramas of some kind, so you need to be able to work through your problems with a minimal time loss."

"It's all about making the best of all situations, and trying to retain a reasonable position."

Grabham believes that Jacob Smith could again be the man to beat, but admits that it's also a bit of a lottery.

"The Australasian Safari is so long and so tough that any one of a handful of guys could win it. You just need to make sure you get to the finish," he adds.

This year, Grabham's brother, Damian, will partner him in the GHR Honda team, as will former Sydney Swans AFL star, Tony "Plugger" Lockett.

"Plugger will bring plenty of media coverage along to the event, which will be great, but he's also riding well. He did the Finke race and finished mid-field, which was a terrific effort. If he gets to the finish of the Safari it will be a real achievement for him."

Already, over 40 bikes have entered for this year's Australasian Safari, which will cover around 2800km of competitive stages through remote areas of Western Australia, such as Sandstone, Meekatharra, Mt Magnet and Geraldton.

The event gets underway in Kalgoorlie with a ceremonial start on August 23, before finishing in the Western Australian capital, Perth, on Saturday, August 30.

-credit: australasiansafari.com.au

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About this article
Series Cross-Country Rally
Drivers Ben Grabham