Rallye

Todd Smith wins his first Australasian Safari

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The Australasian Safari has been won by Todd Smith (moto) and John Maragozidis (quad), each managing to push through seven days of incredibly challenging terrain and distances testing their mental and physical stamina.

Todd Smith on a Honda CRF450X took out the moto prize, leading the race from Leg 2.

The 26-year old from Condobolin NSW has finally made it to first place after finishing second in both 2010 and 2009, winning by 20 minutes over brother Jacob Smith on also on a Honda in second place and Rod Faggotter from Queensland on Yamaha, coming in at 28 hours 40 minutes in third place.

Todd had a dream run this week, taking out his first Safari after three other attempts and racing with his favourite competitor, brother Jacob also from Condobolin who won the Safari in 2009.

"It's a great feeling, I've been chasing this for a few years and it's my fourth attempt at Safari.

"It's not sunk in yet and this is my first major win in something like this."

In what was a challenging event for Third placed Faggotter, the tough Yamaha WR450F mounted Queenslander endured three long days of racing in some of the most rugged and remote environments with a broken bone in his hand to secure the podium position in a true iron man performance.

Since the injury just prior to the mid way stage of the event, Faggotter has been in survival mode but using his years of experience, he managed to nurse his injured body home in what was ultimately frustrating experience for him.

"It's great to be on the podium but for the last few days I have been doing more riding than actual racing to make sure I got home," Rodney explains. "It's not a good way to be in an event like this and I really wanted to give 100% but I was unable to do that after the crash, so in many ways it was tough out there."

"I couldn't have gone as far as I have without the support of my Yamaha team who have kept both me and the bike ticking along nicely. It's a huge effort to do this race and as a team, everyone worked together and we had a great time."

"I also want to pass on thanks to the Smith boys on a great event and just let them know we will be back next year and gunning for number 1," he concluded.

Experienced Quad rider and 2009 Australasian Safari winner South Australian organic almond farmer John Maragozidis won comfortably, about four hours ahead of Colin Lawson who lost nine hours in penalties in Leg 4 after mechanical failure, and Neville Yeatman finishing in third place.

"It feels bloody good. Today was cool. The first half I took it easy and then got excited and just went for it. It's just starting to sink in," he said.

Ninety competitors started the Australasian Safari seven days ago on the coast in Geraldton, Western Australia in auto, moto, quad and non-competitive Adventure Tour category. Today, 69 competitors and adventure tour participants crossed the finish line and they are all winners for making it through 4000km of harsh outback terrain which threw everything at them ‰ÛÒ rocks, soft sand, mud, trees, severely rutted ground from recent rains, barely visible tracks and tricky navigation.

Some standouts where, South Australian Shane Diener on Yamaha who won eight of the 17 stages but lost four hours on Leg 5 for not being able to complete the day due to starter clutch failure.

"All I can say is that I gave it my best," Diener lamented. "There is no doubt my result would have been different had that DNF not occurred but that's part of the challenge of racing in the safari and this style of event."

"Winning the most stages and climbing back to fifth is good and I'm happy with the way I rode. The team also did an amazing job and this is the first time I have done an event like this with so much support and I'm thankful to Yamaha for giving me the opportunity," he concluded.

UK rider Sam Sunderland competing in his first Australasian Safari who won four stages for Husaberg Rallye Racing but had a shaky start to the race after colliding with a kangaroo on Leg 1 and coming off his bike. He lost 7 hours in penalties that day, and 10 hours the next as he was unable to compete under instruction from the medical team. He lost 9 hours again on Leg 6 for clutch failure.

Quad rider Colin Lawson who won seven stages but took a hit on penalty time after losing nine hours in Leg 4.

Annie Seel, affectionately known as the Swedish Rally Princess, who has toughed it out as the only female moto competitor placing 13th at the end of the event.

Australasian Safari 2012 is scheduled for 21 to 29 September 2012 in outback Western Australia.

Overall Standings ‰ÛÒ Complete ‰ÛÒ Motorcycles
1st Todd Smith - 27.35:27
2nd Jacob Smith ‰ÛÒ 27.55:31
3rd Rod Faggotter ‰ÛÒ 28.40:04
4th Damien Grabham ‰ÛÒ 29.31:21
5th Shane Diener ‰ÛÒ 30.12:23
6th Ben Williams ‰ÛÒ 30.31:56
7th David Schwarz ‰ÛÒ 30.42:14
8th Russell Scoble ‰ÛÒ 31.35:32
9th William Cooke ‰ÛÒ 31.58:31
10th David Geeves ‰ÛÒ 32.01:12

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