Rallye

Dakar Champion discovers WA ahead of Australasian Safari

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Three-time Dakar champion and international motorsport celebrity Frenchman Cyril Despres is in Perth experiencing WA's extraordinary coastal wonders before taking on the gruelling eight-day, 4000 kilometre outback motorsport challenge, the Australasian Safari.

Despres said that in his ten years of touring, during which he had visited thirty to forty countries, his visit to Rottnest Island was one of his top three experiences ‰ÛÒ besides racing.

"Snorkelling Rottnest's bays and seeing sea lions was a real highlight ‰ÛÒ I couldn't believe the experience and an island like this could exist. Cycling is part of my training for competition, so I felt a real connection here since bicycle is the main mode of transport around the island."

Cyril takes to the Australian Outback from Thursday 22nd September to compete in the toughest endurance motorsport event in the Asia Pacific Region, the Australasian Safari, an off-road adventure which sees competitors on two and four wheels tackle the remote, rugged and stunning terrain of Western Australia.

The 2011 Australasian Safari will be the Dakar Champion's first Australian event, as he takes on some of the World's harshest desert landscapes in the West Australian Outback.

"Australia is a continent that has always fascinated me," Despres commented. "I grew up near Paris but I always dreamed of being in wide open spaces and as I understand it you have a few wide open spaces in Australia! Also I have done over 60 rallies in my career and the Safari is the only major event that I haven't yet done.

"From what I understand you have some very good riders in Australia who are both fast and good navigators so I think there will be plenty of competition. And of course I have never done the race before and while it seems similar to other events I have done, experience is always a useful commodity."

The route for 2011 Australasian begins at Hillarys Boat Harbour on Thursday 22nd September for a Ceremonial Start with overnight stops in Geraldton for Prologue (Friday 23rd September), then Mount Magnet (Saturday 24th September), Sandstone (Sunday 25th September), two nights in Laverton (Monday 26th / Tuesday 27th September), two nights in Leonora (Wednesday 28th / Thursday 29th September) before finishing in Kalgoorlie on Friday 30th September.

Cyril plans to do further touring in Kalgoorlie when he completes the outback race, before returning to his home country of France. He says in the future he would like to return to Western Australia to enjoy a holiday with his family.

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