Geoff Olholm sets the pace at Safari PrologueHistoric Glengarry Homestead east of Geraldton in Western Australia played host to the Australasian Safari Prologue which saw Cairns driver Geoff Olholm, experienced WA rider Warren Strange and Victorian Quad rider Paul Smith set fastest times to lead the pack tomorrow.
The 22.44km Prologue was essentially a time trial and qualifier for the first leg of the race, which starts on Sunday. It determines the start order for Leg 1 as well as providing competitors a chance to test out their vehicles on the course so they are competition-ready.
Competitors got a good taste of Western Australia’s mid west with the course ducking and diving through gates, along and between fences and across open paddocks. Many were playing it safe to get a reasonable position for the opening leg and not taking too many risks.
“It was really enjoyable and we had a consistent day, the car felt really good,” said Olholm in the Cairns Coconut Racing Team Mitsubishi Pajero.
“Coconuts live again!”
Only 27 seconds off the auto lead was Safari win record holder John Hederics in a Holden Colorado.
International competitors fared well with Venezuelan driver Nunzio Coffaro in the modified Hilux finishing fourth fastest, 54 seconds behind Olholm.
Moto rider Strange on Honda said his fastest time was all due to the set up of his bike.
“The Prologue was awesome it was good fun and the bike’s great,” said Strange.
“It’s all set up for Dakar – the steering is light – there’s no weight on it, and the fuel tank sits really low. I felt relaxed and really enjoyed it.”
Last year’s moto winner Todd Smith, and fastest Dakar Challenge finisher for the day, said he took it pretty easy.
“The bike is really good, I didn’t push too hard, just working my way into it. It was the perfect start and I’m happy to be starting in fourth position tomorrow.
Manuel Lucchese from Italy finished ninth in the moto division, nearly two minutes behind Warren Strange. He said he was getting used to a new bike and wanted to ease himself into his second Safari.
Tomorrow competitors will be truly tested, starting the day along the surf with a sandy beach stage before heading inland for a rocky river crossing, farmland stages and a fast stage to finish before ending at the overnight stop at Kalbarri, 592km north of Perth.