John Hederics wins 10th Safari title
John Hederics and Kees Weel have won the 3500km eight day Australasian Safari through beaches, sand dunes, over creeks, rocky riverbeds, claypans and cattle stations of Western Australia.
Hederics in a Holden Colorado finished a comfortable one hour 24 minutes ahead of Rob Herridge in a production class Subaru Forester.
Hederics is arguably the event’s most experienced competitor. He has won six out of seven Safari attempts on a moto and four out of seven attempts in an auto. It is Weel’s second win as a navigator and the fourth win for the car.
“I had to rush back for the footy today to watch Sydney,” said Hederics.
“We held the lead for three days and had it to lose. Driving conservatively is sometimes harder than going fast.
“I’ve been on loads of Safaris as a competitor and as support; this is by far the best course. The difference in terrain and the variances have been really good. The organisation is good and there are experienced guys running the show and they know what’s required.”
Former Australian Rally Champion Herridge finished ahead of Wayne Park in a Toyota HiLux.
“I’m feeling pumped,” said Herridge.
“We’ve been trying not to celebrate for three days because it’s not over ‘til it’s over. It went well beyond our expectations, not only did we win a few stages, we came second outright. It’s a testament to Subaru cars. We’re wrapped.”
Jake Smith won the Australasian Safari moto division as he did in 2009. He held the lead for the entire event on his Honda CRF450X and finished with a comfortable 31 minutes to spare.
With brother Todd Smith, last year’s Safari moto winner, they have a combined seven podiums in seven events in WA on three different marques – Honda, Yamaha and KTM.
“It’s never over ‘til it’s over so I was taking it easy to get through the cool beach stages and cross the finish line. Having won last in 2009 it’s a really good feeling to win again,” Smith said.
Warren Strange is no stranger to Safari and he rode his Dakar-built Honda CRF450X to finish convincingly in second place, one hour 39 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.
“I’m really happy that an old guy like me can do this! I gave up motocross riding when these guys around me were kids!
“I’ve tried to do quite a lot of events this year in my preparation for Dakar so I’m really pleased it has paid off.”
Strange’s second place was also a huge personal achievement for him, having had leukaemia for 20 years. “I’ve been able to take time off work to train and now I’m following my passion, life’s too short,” he said.
Ryan Inghram achieved a third place podium finish on a KTM450 despite this being his first attempt at the Australasian Safari.
The winners of five of the last six Australasian Safaris have won on Honda bikes.
Paul Smith won the quads convincingly from start to finish on his Honda TRX700XX. He has contested each Australasian Safari since quads were introduced five years ago and won in 2010.
“Especially after last year’s stuff up and the helicopter ride to hospital with a broken leg, I’m really glad to be on top,” said Smith.
“In true Safari form, the event had to throw something at me, and in the last three kilometres I hit a sheep. It was OK and ran away.
“I loved the Gascoyne region for Safari; the stages were awesome – pure evil! It’s the least troubles I’ve ever had on the event and it’s a credit to the guys who built the bike. I’m really happy, next stop Dakar!”
South African rider Brett Cummings won the Dakar Challenge in his first marathon event.
“I’m feeling happy to get through it; it was unknown pressure for me especially yesterday getting a 45-minute penalty,” said Cummings.
“I made some stupid mistakes today, I went too slow in the sand and had a big crash in the second stage – my only crashes of the event have been today!
“I’ve liked the organisation of Australasian Safari and the routes. I’ve learnt so much coming out of this race. I’ve had some great pointers from Jake and Todd (Smith) and I’m looking forward to next time.
“Winning the Dakar Challenge means it will be easier for us to get sponsors; it lightens the load on the pockets. I was uncertain of how I would go on a multi day event and I’m so happy I’ve managed to maintain pace over the seven days.”