The Prologue was only seven-kilometres but it still challenged competitors and set the scene for Australasian Safari 2013.
Last year’s auto winner Kees Weel with co-driver John Panozzo in the Holden Colorado blew their clutch, Sam Beck and Chris Kenny fought the beach sand in their VW Amarok and came off second best, but Safari stalwarts the Cairns Coconuts Geoff Olholm and Gordon Trigg in a Toyota Hilux had a great drive finishing fastest in 6 minutes 48 seconds.
Geoff Olholm, who finished an extraordinary 11th outright at Dakar this year, said he was driving the same car at Safari this year.
“The car’s really good, we haven’t changed a thing since Dakar. We’re really looking forward to the event, today was just the hors d’oeuvres.”
Sam Beck said he had issues with the diff lock and with tyre pressure in the soft beach sand. “I had to wait for recovery to pull us out but the car is fine and I’m happy to be starting at the back,” he said.
Lee Stephens, who has a free entry into Safari from winning the Safari Challenge at the Condo 750 off-road rally this year, finished fastest in the motos, just ahead of brothers Jake and Todd Smith, both on Honda CRF450X.
It is Stephens’ first Safari and first time to WA. “I’m on a new enduro bike and still getting used to it. My goal is to finish, and hopefully finish in a reasonable place.
Last year’s moto winner Jake Smith said it was all good for him out there today. “I’m looking forward to this week, I’m aiming to win, I don’t come to Safari to come second,” he said.
Todd Smith, who finished 34th in Dakar this year said today’s racing was good for him. “It just wasn’t really long enough to get going. The bike feels great, and the body feels good.”
John Maragozidis driving on an MMR Interceptor quad fished fastest today. “It was pretty easy, the quad feels rock steady and comfortable. I’m very happy to be here. I’m learning to ride again, I haven’t ridden in ages.”
Fastest Dakar Challenge moto competitor from the Prologue was Shane Diener. Rally champion Alister McRae finished seventh fastest.
Following a ceremonial start on the turquoise coast of Jurien Bay, today’s Prologue leg (Leg 0) put competitors through their paces in tracks winding through narrow and twisting coastal vegetation and finishing with a run along the beach in soft sand.
Jurien Bay is a popular weekend destination and recreational spot and the Prologue stage was made possible thanks to the Ardross Group of Companies’ and Beachridge Estates.