2010 Australasian Safari champion Ben Grabham earned second just eight seconds behind Jocob Smith during the prologue.
On Friday the 2011 Australasian Safari officially launched with riders encountering the first obstacles of the seven-day competition in Geraldton, Western Australia. Long grasses provided the first issue for riders during the 19km course, which determines the starting order for Leg 1 on Saturday.
Jacob Smith set the best time of 16:05 aboard his 2011 Honda CRF450X followed by last year’s winner, Ben Grabham, eight seconds later. Todd Smith rounded out the top-three finishers 11 seconds off the pace of the leader, as 2011 Dakar champion Cyril Despres snagged eighth during his debut in the Australasian Safari competition.
“I caught the dust off other riders with only one minute between each rider starting,” said Despres. “The navigation is a bit different to what I am used to so it will take me a couple of days to sort this out. But we have a lot of days ahead.”
Leg 1 takes place on Saturday and features a 328km course over rocky and narrow terrain. Starting in Geraldton then heading inland to Mt Magnet, the course should prove especially troublesome after recent rain in the region.
Australasian Safari Prologue Results:
Current Dakar champ Cyril Despres made his debut at the Safari in eighth after finishing 39 seconds behind the leader.
1. Jacob Smith (Honda) 16:05
2. Ben Grabham (KTM) 16:14
3. Todd Smith (Honda) 16:16
4. Troy O’Connor (KTM) 16:20
5. Shane Diener (Yamaha) 16:25
6. Damien Grabham (Husaberg) 16:26
7. Matthew Fish (KTM) 16:42
8. Cyril Despres (KTM) 16:44
9. Rod Faggotter (Yamaha) 17:02
10. David Geeves (Honda) 17:04
11. Sam Sunderland (Husaberg) 17:07
12. Manuel Lucchese (Husaberg) 17:15
13. Ivan Erceg (Honda) 17:16
14. William Cole (Husaberg) 17:21
14. Russell Scoble (Honda) *tied 17:21