Thursday, September 26, 2013

Australasian Safari 2013--Vehicross, Forester and Sidecar Oh My!

The 2013 Australasian Safari has an additional reason for hype this year as one moto and one "car" entry will win a free entry into the 2014 Dakar based on their performance.  Outside of this, the largest offroad rally in Western Australia is one of the longest and toughest in the Southern Hemisphere. The event has drawn a number of entrants from around the world over the years including ORMHOF (Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame) member Rod Hall and his team of Hummers in recent years.

While one of the world's classic offroad races, due to its remoteness, like the Taupo 1000 in New Zealand it does draw a number of grassroots and more obscure competitors in addition to those at the top of the industry.  Along with these more grassroots entries comes some of the more interesting vehicles out there racing today.

Example #1--The 1998 Isuzu Vehicross of Andrew and David Travis.  The Vehicross is an iconic SUV of which few were produced, so to see one out racing is remarkable.  I believe this is only the second one I've ever seen in offroad competition and that it is doing so some 15 years after its production is awesome.  Coming into the last day of the event (Leg 7 of 7) the bright yellow Vehicross is sitting 3rd in the event some hour and 20 minutes out of first place.

Example #2--The 2008 Subaru Forester of Robert Herridge and Sam Hill.  The Forester is not exactly your typical offroad racing vehicle but it seems to be holding its own, sitting in 4th place in the event, 2 hours and a half hours out of the lead (25 entries in the "car" class this year).  Given how rocky and sandy sections of this course are, the fact that a Forester (a supposedly "road" oriented SUV) has done this well is impressive.

Example #3--The KTM 525 GPR of Max and Sam Hutchesson.  Yup...a KTM sidecar.  The only sidecar in the event the pair seem to have a great deal of experience as a quick Google search of them picks up numerous photos of them racing and of their various race results in enduros and other offroad motorcycle events around Australia.  Their entrance ends a 17 year absence of sidecars from the Australasian Safari.  They sit some 10 hours adrift but are still in the event and putting on a fantastic show.

Lastly we'll throw in a couple of Nissan Patrols to represent the Nissan's in the field.  There are two Nissan Patrols remaining.  One sits in 6th place three hours and eight minutes adrift and the other sits in 12th, 17 hours back.

One day of racing remains before the event's conclusion.

Condolences are due to the family and friends of biker Ivan Erceg who lost his life on 9/25 during the first stage of the day.  Vaya Con Dios Ivan.

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