The 100 competitors and their 400-plus support crews, families, officials, medics and organizing team gathered in Wanneroo yesterday to complete their final vehicle checks and paperwork for the 2013 Australasian Safari.
Today, the Australasian Safari travels to the turquoise coast of Jurien Bay for the Prologue – a time trial on sandy beach tracks to test the vehicles and place the starting order for all 4x4s, bikes and quads for the first leg of the off-road endurance rally.
Competitors from the US, UK, South Africa, France, Romania, Czech Republic and Thailand, and Australia will battle it out over 3200km in the bush, the beaches and the tough and barren landscape of Western Australia’s Mid-West and Gascoyne regions, finishing on the Geraldton foreshore on Friday 27 September.
Nine moto riders and one auto team will be competing in the Dakar Challenge – a chance to win an entry in the 2014 Dakar, open to competitors who have not participated in Dakar, not been in a top ten finish of an FIM all-terrain rally.
Competitors to watch include:
- Seasoned Safari competitors and past Safari winners, brothers Jake and Todd Smith from Mittagong, NSW. They know the landscape, they understand the event and they will be racing at the front of the field. They are both riding in the GHR Honda Team again this year and competing in the same bike class.
- Regular Safari moto entries Matt Fish who competed in the 2013 Dakar and managed an incredible third place on Stage 2, and Rod Faggotter who finished Dakar 14th outright in 2013
- West Aussie Warren Strange who placed 2nd in the 2012 Safari, and tackled and finished Dakar earlier this year.
- International rally champion Alister McRae who has swapped his rally car for a KTM 500 bike to tackle Safari.
- Safari’s first ever sidecar competitors, Max and Sam Hutchesson from South Australia
- 2012 Auto winner Kees Weel from Queensland in the PWR Holden Colorado. Kees has moved to the driver’s seat having been co-driver last year.
- US female auto duo Amy Lerner and Tricia Reina in their first foray in Australian offroad racing. They will be driving a 2012 Jeep Wrangler.
- Long time Safari auto competitors and rivals Bruce Garland (Isuzu D-Max), Des Harrington (Nissan Patrol), John Purshouse (Mitsubishi Triton), Geoff Olholm (Toyota Hilux), Reg Owen (Nissan Patrol), Les Walkden (Mitsubishi Pajero), and Murray Young (Mitsubishi Pajero)
- Entrants in the new side-by-side category: Garry Whittle (WA), Garry Connell (WA) and Giuliano Airoldi (France)
- Quad seasoned Safari entrant Heath Young from Western Australia (5 Safaris) and past winner and 4-time Safari entrant John Maragozidis (SA)