News 21 Sep 2011

Grabham confident hand injury won't affect Safari title defence

Ben Grabham is confident he can contend for another Safari win with the CPW KTM Rally Team.

Ben Grabham is confident he can contend for another Safari win with the CPW KTM Rally Team.

Defending Australasian Safari Champion Ben Grabham is certain that his hand injury suffered earlier this year won’t be a factor in Western Australia this week when the 2011 Safari gets underway.

Three-time Safari champion Grabham will return with the all-conquering CPW KTM Rally Team with official support from KTM Australia, heading the team’s four-man line-up in the Super Production up to 450cc division.

Grabham, from Bathurst in NSW, is on the comeback trail after sustaining a broken hand on his way to victory in June’s Finke Desert Race, but says he’ll enter the event with high hopes of success.

“The Safari is a great event and one that I won last year,” Grabham said. “I’ve been focused on it, and everyone keeps asking about my hand. I don’t think it will be a problem in the Safari because it’s held in wide open spaces and you’re not really moving around on the bike so much.

“It’s a race that’s more about navigating and getting through the desert, so I think everything will be fine. I’m really looking forward to that and also riding with Cyril Despres during the event.”

Joining Grabham in the CPW KTM Rally Team will be Matt Fish in Production 450cc and over, Troy O’Connor in Production up to 450cc, and Heath Young in the Quad ranks aboard KTM’s 690 Rally Quad.

“We’re pretty well right to go, just finishing off the final preparations, loading the truck ready to go,” added CPW KTM Rally Team manager Don McGrath. “I’ve been preparing the bikes now for three or four months, so there’s a lot of hours involved in them.

“There are a lot of logistics involved in the seven-day event with a crew of around 14 people, a truck and four vehicles. The riders are ready, Ben certainly has his race face on and the main competition is expected to come from Despres.”

The 2011 Australasian Safari’s ceremonial start will take place on Thursday, 22 September, at Hillary’s Boat Harbour before riders tackle the WA outback and head up the coast to Geraldton and then inland through the remote northern goldfields, via Mt Magnet, Sandstone, Laverton and Leonora before reaching Kalgoorlie on 30 September.