Rallye

Mistake costs Andrew Coaker the Safari lead

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Australian Safari bike leader Andrew Coaker dropped 18 minutes off the pace and back into third position after a disastrous opening stage on the fifth day's leg between the Western Australian outback towns of Newman and Meekatharra. Coaker had moved to a one minute and thirty seven second lead at the end of yesterday's Leg four, after provisional leader Adrian Channing was penalised seven minutes for arriving late through a transition stage. But the Coogee investment banker took a wrong turn in this morning's opening stage, and had travelled eight kilometres off course before realising he had to back-track, losing some 19 minutes in the process. Aware of his rival's mistake, Channing pushed his KTM 660 Rallye to the quickest time across the day's opening 238km stage, finishing nine seconds ahead of 18-year-old gun Jacob Smith of Condobolin, and 32 seconds ahead of Bathurst rider Ben Grabham on his Honda CRF 450X. On the second - and final - stage of the day, Smith went one better, the RMA Yamaha Safari rider taking his WR450 to the stage victory over Grabham by 16 seconds, and moving into third place overall for the first time. Channing, from Broken Hill, came in a further six seconds back, enough to secure the lead, albeit by just 29 seconds. With the sixth leg to be contested tomorrow from Meekatharra to Leonora, Channing sits on a total time of 9 hours 44 minutes and 39 seconds. Grabham is on 9:45:08, and Smith a further seven minutes and 10 seconds back in third. Coaker is in fourth place, 18 minutes 11 seconds from the lead, and in dire need of some major mistakes from the three men ahead of him over the closing four days of the event. "It was a fairly smooth and consistent day for me today," Channing said "I was the next rider behind (Andrew Coaker) and I saw his tracks turning off." But the 38-year-old knows there is a long way to go. "They (major rivals Grabham and Smith) are doing incredibly well. They've done the Condo 750 which is all about navigation and that's what Safari is all about." "You need to be spot on and they are doing a good job for their first time." "There are four days to go and anything can happen." Coaker seemed relatively relaxed about his error. "I had a little bit of a navigation problem today on stage one," he said. "I took a left hand turn onto a track and got about eight ks in and realized it was wrong." "At least I didn't get over-excited and crash." "But then I was stuck in the dust for the rest of the day." "We are all pretty even now - everyone has had something go wrong." Top 10 bikes ‰ÛÒ After Stage 17 Day Five, Australian Safari (Provisional)
1, A CHANNING (NSW), KTM 660 Rallye, 09:44:39
2, B GRABHAM (NSW), Honda CRF 450X, 09:45:08
3, J SMITH (NSW), Yamaha WR450, 09:52:18
4, A COAKER (NSW), Honda CRF 450X, 10:02:50
5, S DIENER (SA), Kawasaki KLX 450, 10:04:11
6, M FISH (VIC), KTM 525 EXC, 10:24:49
7, P NELLIGAN (NSW), KTM EXC 525, 10:32:10
8, A RIEMANN (SA), KTM 450EXC, 10:40:43
9, I ERCEG (WA), Honda XR650, 11:00:16
10, McCULLAGH (NSW), KTM 450 EXC, 11:00:20

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