News 18 Sep 2010

Rally: Todd Smith tops Prologue stage in Australasian Safari

Todd Smith topped the Prologue of the 2010 Australasian Safari on Saturday.

Todd Smith topped the Prologue of the 2010 Australasian Safari on Saturday.

Last year’s second place winner in the Moto division, Todd Smith, will be first on Leg One of the Australasian Safari when the gruelling seven-day event takes off from Southern Cross in the Western Australian eastern wheatbelt tomorrow, Sunday 19 September.

Despite coming off his KTM 530 towards the end of the short 19.34km stage, Todd finished 19 seconds ahead of fellow NSW riders AJ Roberts on a Honda CRF 450, and Ben Grabham on his KTM 530.

Todd said he was happy about leading out tomorrow because it meant he wouldn’t have to deal with as much dust.

“It’s probably a bit harder to be first out – there’s no tracks to follow but that’s also an advantage as I need to focus on my own navigation and will be less tempted to follow someone else’s tracks,” he said.

Roberts said he was also happy to be following Todd in first position and was looking forward to the week, following his forced retirement last year.

“Todd knows what he’s doing so it’s good to have him in front,” Roberts said. “Anything can happen over a week of racing but I’m happy with my bike and this is an event where its as much about the natural elements as your skills or the machine.”

Three-time Safari competitor Paul Smith on a Honda TRX700 was fastest in the Quad category at 20:52.

Tomorrow’s Leg One takes competitors north east to the goldfields town of Leonora with 356.79 competitive kilometres over three stages and a mid-leg service in Menzies. Total distance travelled will be 579km for the leg.

The course is expected provide a range of challenges including overgrown tracks, twists and turns through heavy sand, a crossing of the Trans Australia Railway line, salt lakes and heavy rutts, rough mine site roads and rocky terrain.

Considered one of the world’s great endurance events, the Australasian Safari will travel from Southern Cross in the wheatbelt through to the historic Western Australian goldfields, desert, rugged bush and coastal sand dunes, finishing at Esperance.

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