Ben Grabham wins 2010 Australasian Safari for KTM
Ben Grabham has won the 2010 Australasian Safari on his KTM.
2010 Australasian Safari Results
Ben Grabham made it a trifecta for himself and the CPW Safari /SP Tools/KTM Racing Team when he took out first place the motorcycle division of the 2010 Australasian Safari today.
Grabham was in the lead in all but one Leg this week, finishing convincingly today an overall 17 minutes ahead of the next fastest Todd Smith.
“It was a fun way to finish, riding across the sand dunes and the beach, although getting through the sand was a bit tough. After all the hard work, it’s a big relief it’s over not just for me but also for the mechanics and the whole team”
Todd Smith completed a gritty performance placing second despite nursing a shoulder injury sustained on the first day of competition and having his brother Jacob out of the event with a broken ankle. “It’s been a pretty rough week, but I just don’t like to give up on things. You finish what you start. It will take me about a month to recover, but now I’m now looking forward to having a party – otherwise known as Leg 8!”
KTM was also a winner today, with third fastest finisher Matt Fish completing the trio of moto placings. “I didn’t finish last year and it’s my fourth attempt at a podium finish, and I’m finally there. “I had a great day today and the beach finish topped it off.”
Paul Smith was the victor of the quad bikes, having a great run all week. He lead the quad riders from Leg 2 and kept his lead for the remainder of the event. In the true spirit of Safari, Smith towed in his fellow quad competitor Colin Lawson for the last four or five kilometres of the stage. Lawson was stuck in some soft sand and with moto rider Richard Mayfield, they dug him out, tied on his bike and brought him into the finish.
“It was my most memorable day on Safari. I’ve finally won one and we then had to get through the dunes and get Colin out and the bike was so hot, Col pushed the bike for part of the way – it was a huge day!”
International riders Annie Seel from Sweden and Ze Helio from Brazil both agree that the conditions experienced in the Australasian Safari are comparable with the gruelling terrain and lengths of the Dakar legs. Seel was competing in the Safari for her second year and Helio for the first time. Helio, who placed 11th in the 2009 Dakar, and 18th in Safari 2010, said this year he didn’t put big expectations on himself and just wanted to understand the terrain.
“You need a different way of driving for each particular type of ground and I found it less slippery here than what I’m used to in Brazil. I like this rally so much and it is the best practice for Dakar,” he said.
Seel, who placed 15th today, said the beach dunes and sand were the perfect way to finish, and she forgot about her mis-navigation yesterday. “With this kind of riding I could do another week,” she said. “The long days and technical nature of the stages definitely make me feel I now have the stamina for another Dakar”.
Proof of the difficulty of Safari is the number of competitors who manage to reach it to the finish. The event commenced with 112 vehicles on the Prologue Day and only 64 vehicles finished today, a 40 per cent attrition rate.
Over seven days, the event has traversed Western Australia, starting on the coast in Perth, travelling east through the wheatbelt to the historic goldfields, then south to the beautiful beaches of Esperance. An official podium finish on the town’s foreshore saw each of the remaining competitors cheered back into town, celebrating the fact they had finished this gruelling event.
In the auto division, V8 Supercar driver Craig Lowndes has proved himself an all-round motorsport champion with a first-place win with co-driver Kees Weel.
Full results from Leg 7 and for the full event are available from www.rallyresults.com.au/safari2010
Big thanks to Offroad Images for the great pictures, and Janine from Bright Communication for the regular updates.