Todd Smith scores first Safari title
The Australasian Safari has been won by Todd Smith (moto), Steve Riley and co-driver John Doble (auto) and John Maragozidis (quad), each managing to push through seven days of incredibly challenging terrain and distances testing their mental and physical stamina.
Todd Smith on a Honda CRF450X took out the moto prize, leading the race since Leg 2.
The 26-year old from Condobolin (NSW) finally made it to first place after finishing second in both 2010 and ’09, winning by 20 minutes over brother Jacob Smith also on a Honda with Rod Faggotter from Queensland on a Yamaha, coming in at 28 hours 40 minutes in third place.
“It’s a great feeling, I’ve been chasing this for a few years and it’s my fourth attempt at Safari,” said Todd Smith.
“It’s not sunk in yet and this is my first major win in something like this.”
Victorians Steve Riley and John Doble from the Cairns Coconut Resort Race Team have taken a cautious approach this week, which has helped them win a trifecta of Australasian Safaris – 2011, ’09 and ’08.
They had a lucky break in Leg 5 when Craig Lowndes rolled his Holden Colorado. Lowndes finished fourth despite winning 13 of 17 stages.
“My team are legends; I couldn’t have done it without them. We are close-knot and this is the result we’ve been looking for,” said Riley.
Australians John Purshouse and David McShane in a Mitsubishi Triton took second place in their first Australasian Safari.
Fellow Sandgropers Adrian Dilallo and Rob Masi placed third in their production-class Mitsubishi Pajero Evo, a move up the ladder from sixth place in 2010.
Experienced Quad rider and 2009 Australasian Safari winner South Australian organic almond farmer John Maragozidis won comfortably, about four hours ahead of Colin Lawson who lost nine hours in penalties in Leg 4 after mechanical failure, and Neville Yeatman finishing in third place.
“It feels bloody good,” said Maragozidis.
“Today was cool. The first half I took it easy and then got excited and just went for it. It’s just starting to sink in.”
The Australasian Safari 2012 is scheduled for 21 to 29 September 2012 in outback Western Australia.