Craig Lowndes crashes out of lead at Safari
Craig Lowndes 2011 Australasian Safari charge could be over after he rolled on the day’s first stage in Western Australia.
Lowndes and co-driver John Panozzo rolled their PWR prepared Holden Colorado on the 215.35 kilometre stage 10 that made up the leg from Laverton to Leonora
Lowndes had a convincing 20 minute lead over next fastest driver Steve Riley and John Doble in the Mitsubishi Pajero until the incident.
They got the vehicle back on four wheels but had to be towed to the finish of the stage by competitors Murray Young and Paul McBean.
Leg 5 was a Marathon Day, which meant that no vehicle servicing was allowed by support crews. Any repairs to vehicles must be done by the competitors themselves with the tools they carry with them. Unfortunately Lowndes and Panozzo were unable to complete repairs.
Lowndes was still positive about his chances for the Friday finish.
“It’s certainly not over yet, our team will get the car back on the road tomorrow. It was a soft sandy turn so we weren’t hurt,” said Lowndes.
“We were going around a left hand corner in second gear, just clipped a tree and ricocheted off it and the left hand rear rim dug in and the car just slid onto its side.
“It’s disappointing we damaged the car but we’ll see where we are situated tomorrow after the time penalty has been awarded.”
Stages 10 and 11 that made up Safari demanded competitors’ full attention. Trees had to be navigated throughout the track that started off fast before tightening as it twisted and turned its way around a huge salt lake. Caution was key to staying in the race.
Meanwhile Leg 4 moto winner and today’s first stage winner Shane Diener had mechanical failure during the second stage which will see him out of contention.
England’s Sam Sunderland won the second stage of the day, 30 seconds ahead of race leader Todd Smith, despite coming off his bike after also falling victim to a tree.
“Today was tough and tiring riding through the trees. I clipped my left arm on a tree and also had a small crash on Stage 11, but got back on and kept riding,” Sunderland said.
Todd Smith now holds 12 minutes on nearest rival brother Jacob Smith with Rod Faggotter in third fastest position and Frenchman Cyril Dupres moving into fourth place in the motos.
“The first section today was tough. We had constant turns and tight tracks most of the way. The second stage today wasn’t too bad,” Todd Smith said.
In the quads John Maragozidis retained his substantial lead on the first stage following penalties applied to Colin Lawson after mechanical issues yesterday.
“The tracks were treacherous today! I was going slow and steady to avoid any mistakes I had a clean ride in and looked after the bike. There were lots of twists and turns, which suited me. It looked like the motos were were working hard. Overall, I’m happy with my day,” Maragozidis said.
Tomorrow is Leg 6 and will see two competitive stages around Leonora totaling 377 competitive kilometres.