EPIC AUSTRALASIAN SAFARI ENDS IN PERTH
After an epic journey of over 4000 kilometres, competitors in the Australasian Safari reach Perth this afternoon for the podium finish of Australia’s toughest motorsport challenge.
Riding a Honda, Bathurst’s Ben Grabham has won his second consecutive Safari, while the Auto divison has been taken out by Victorian, Steve Riley, in his battle weary Mitsubishi Pajero.
South Australian John Maragozidis was the first Quad bike home after many of his rivals struck trouble during the seven days.
Grabham had a comfortable lead heading into the last stage of the marathon seven-day event, but still pushed right to the finish, taking second place on the final 75 kilometre stage.
The factory Honda rider led the event from the very first stage in Kalgoorlie last Sunday (August 24), and controlled the event from the front. He took victory by nearly 22 minutes ahead of the Yahama of Rod Faggotter.
Faggotter, from Queensland, crashed his bike on the third day, and despite suffering facial injuries that required stitches, he charged on in style. He eventually finished more than seven and a half minutes in front of the second factory Honda, riden by Damian Grabham, brother of Ben.
The rest of the positions in the top five remained unchanged on the final 441 kilometre Leg from Geraldton to the Western Australian capital. Kalgoorlie’s Warren Strange, on a Honda, held off the KTM challenge from Matt Fish.
AFL legend, Tony Lockett, finished his first ever Australasian Safari in 25th place from the 51 riders who started the event.
After finishing runner-up in previous Safaris, Steve Riley was overjoyed to finally take victory. With every panel on his Mitsubishi dented, Riley maintained his lead and took victory by over 18 minutes.
The Nissan Patrol of another Safari veteran, Des Harrington, took second place after over 2100 kilometres of competitive stages.
The Isuzus of Bruce Garland and Sweden’s ‘Pelle’ Wallentheim were hoping for wet conditions for the final two days, but their hopes of making up time were dashed when Leg Six’s stages were cancelled because of too much rain.
Evenly matched throughout the event, the cars took third and fourth places, with Garland leading home his Swedish team-mate.
New South Wales cotton farmer, Peter Glennie, rounded out the top five in his Toyota Landcruiser.
Competitors are now on their way back to Perth for the podium finish at Forrest Place, in the heart of the city. The weary crews will arrive at 1.30pm (Western Australian time).
FINAL PLACINGS (provisional)
1. Ben Grabham (#1) Honda CRF450X, 23h39m28s
2. Rod Faggotter (#66) Yamaha WR 450 F, 24h01m13s
3. Damian Grabham (#4) Honda CRF450X, 24h08m47s
4. Warren Strange (#18) Honda CRF450X, 24h35m20s
5. Matt Fish (#3) KTM 530EXC, 22h38m21s
6. Vern Strange (#40) Honda CRF450X, 24h52m55s
1. Steve Riley / John Doble (#109) Mitsubishi Pajero, 25h37m33s
2. Des Harrington / Sue McCready (#108) Nissan Patrol, 25h55m53s
3. Bruce Garland / Harry Suzuki (#107) Isuzu D-MAX, 26h08m36s
4. ‘Pelle’ Wallentheim / ‘Olle’ Ohlsson (#110) Isuzu VehiCross, 26h19m05s
5. Peter Glennie / Peter Clark (#102) Toyota Landcruiser, 27h12m33s
1. John Maragozidis, Polaris Outlaw IRS, 31h42m23s
2. Darrell Knight, CAN AM Renegade 800X, 33h27m28s