Leading French endurance champion David Fretigne has arrived in Australia to prepare for his first ever Australian Safari with the successful Yamaha Motor Australia Team. Fretigne who was seventh outright in the 2004 Paris to Dakar event ...
Leading French endurance champion David Fretigne has arrived in Australia to prepare for his first ever Australian Safari with the successful Yamaha Motor Australia Team.
Fretigne who was seventh outright in the 2004 Paris to Dakar event will team up with American rider Casey McCoy who is competing in his fifth Safari and Australian rider Greg Slattery who recently finished second in his class at the South Australian 24 hour endurance race.
Fretigne and McCoy will tackle the rugged eight day, 2,500 kilometre course onboard Yamaha's world first two-wheel drive hydraulic motorcycle, the WR450F 2-Trac while Slattery will ride the single wheel drive WR450F.
Fretigne, is no stranger to the challenging conditions the Australian Safari will present having raced successfully in the notorious Paris to Dakar event to great success, winning three stages outright, winning his class and finishing a very impressive seventh overall.
"I am really excited to be competing in my first Australian Safari." Fretigne said.
"I am new to the Safari so I plan to take it day by day and see how the race unfolds, then adapt my strategy to get the best results. I can't say that I'll win in my first event but I will aim for a podium then maybe win next year!
"I believe the first few days are fairly technical, after which the course opens out a bit. That's good, because I prefer narrow and rocky technical courses, as that is what I'm used to riding in France. It's a lot more fun than the open stuff," he said.
"The WR450F 2-Trac was a real pleasure to ride in the 2004 Dakar, it is very stable at high speeds plus it has phenomenal grip in poor conditions.
"It's a great machine for blasting up dunes and in any fast, sandy terrain, once you are used to being pulled as well as pushed, the 2-Trac performs superbly in all conditions" Fretigne said.
American Endurance ace Casey McCoy said he was grateful to Yamaha for the opportunity to contest his fifth consecutive Australian Safari having only just returned to racing after breaking his leg while testing for the 2004 Paris to Dakar event.
"I am really grateful to Yamaha Motor Australia for giving me the opportunity to come back and ride this years Safari," McCoy said. This is a great confidence builder and my first major competition since breaking my leg during in a freak accident during fuel consumption testing Tunisia.
"Riding the 2-Trac is a new treat for me and I am looking forward to spending more time on the bike.
"It is totally unique to anything I have ridden before and is different the way it pulls around corners,
"The bike tracks really well and once I become more accustomed to it I know it will help me get in and out of the corners quicker," McCoy said.
The official factory Yamaha team will be fronted by Safari veteran Gary Williams, who was the driving force behind last year's results that saw Team Yamaha finish with an astonishing four class wins.
"This year's team is probably the most talented Yamaha have entered." Williams said. "Not only do we have the best riders competing we also have the best pit crew in Australia.
"David brings a great wealth of experience and knowledge to the team having recently ridden the 2-Trac in the Dakar race and both Casey McCoy and Greg Slattery are experienced Safari campaigners.
"Despite the difference in horsepower we feel the two wheel drive will definitely be an advantage in some areas.
The 2004 Australian Safari gets underway in Bathurst on Sunday 12th September with a Prologue stage before the field heads out to some of the most remote areas of regional NSW.