Rallye

Long flowing tracks provide some relief and even fun for Safari Leg 3

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The tall grasses that gave grief to competitors over the last two days have cleared and the pace increased as Safari headed further inland from Mt Magnet to Sandstone today on 326km of competitive stages.

The lead in the motos has been held by brothers Todd and Jake Smith on Honda, closely followed by Ben Grabham and Matt Fish, both on KTM. Dakar winner Frenchman Cyril Despres, also on KTM, said he had a better day and moved up one position to fifth.

"It was fun today. I was a bit faster, although I was expecting it to be like yesterday. There was some sliding ‰ÛÒ it was quite fun. Some parts were really fast.

"I'm still having difficultly with the course notes, it is very different to what I am used to and I'm not sure I can learn it in a week. I saw some big animals today including 1.5 metre lizard!"

Todd and Jacob Smith have stayed neck and neck but are helping each other along the way.

"Jacob caught me and we raced each other most of the way, and we also worked together to open and close gates. The stages were flowing nicely - it was fun," Todd Smith said.

Matthew Fish also encountered some wildlife on the course.

"I had a good day today ‰ÛÒ no dramas. Stage 3 was really fun and Stage 4 was a bit rockier. I managed to get some good speed and didn't make any navigation errors. I had a couple of close calls with a kangaroo and an emu and saw heaps of lizards out there."

For Damian Grabham, it was a relief to get to the end of today's Leg.

"Today was mentally challenging ‰ÛÒ this is the place where I broke my leg two years ago. I just cruised and took it easy. It was good," he said.

Adrian Hermsen said he had his best day for a long time on the Can-Am Renegade. He sits second fastest in the Quads.

"I had an awesome day. The tracks were fast and flowing with lots of nice corners where I could slide the back out. Today was the best ride I've had in ages."

Other notable news from the first three days Italian first-time Safari competitor Manuel Lucchesi had a tyre shred and catch fire on his Husaberg FE570 in the second stage yesterday. He is devastated not to be in amongst the top ten, but will continue in the event.

Under medical team instruction, Dubai-based UK rider Sam Sunderland did not race in Leg 2 following a collision with a kangaroo that forced him onto a fence and took him off his bike. He will be assessed by the Safari Medics at the end of the day to see whether he can race tomorrow.

The Quads faired not much better with 2010 winner Paul Smith failing to finish the second stage because of fuel problems and received a six-hour penalty.

Neville Yeatman did not finish Leg 1 but restarted today. Heath Young did not finish Leg 1 but restarted today.

Tomorrow sees competitors travel to Laverton for the event's longest competitive course so far at 560km.

Main Photo: Todd Smith

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