Former V8 Supercar team owner and past winner of the Australasian Safari, Kees Weel, has barrel-rolled his Holden Colorado on the second leg of this year's event in Western Australia.
Covering a huge 667 kilometres in three competitive stages racing from Kalbarri to Gascoyne Junction. The first stage was rough, sandy and rocky before changing to low scrub coastal country. The run to the stage end was a rally-type road known as ‘Snake Road' heading into the Hamelin Service Area.
In Stage 2 competitors tackled sandy tracks, rough and rocky patches, low swamp fences, fencelines and ‘mill runs' through Hamelin, Carbla, Yaringa and Wooramel Stations.
Stage 3 provided more twist and turns then dune country into Jimba Jimba Station, finishing up with a mixed bag of tight twisty tracks, narrow fence tracks and low creek country.
It was a dramatic day for some in the autos with Weel's big off in the third stage. Weel walked away with minor injuries.
The lead changed by the end of the Leg with the Cairns Coconut Resort Racing team of Geoff Olholm and Gordon Trigg finishing the day with ten minutes ahead of the pack. “We had a great day. The car went well, it was really fast in the morning and tighter and more technical this afternoon. We passed a few bikes and quads and had a lot of fun out there.”
Yesterday's leaders Dave McShane and Bill Hayes had a more eventful day, moving into second place. Hayes said they got it right by the third stage. “We broke the drive shaft with 70km to go in the first stage and only had front wheel drive for the rest of the stage. In the second stage we were going too fast, hit a rock, and got a flat tyre. But the last stage was good and we're here.”
It wasn't such a great day for the side-by-side entries with all retiring with mechanical issues.
There were only six seconds separating moto leader Todd Smith and Leg 1 leader Rod Faggotter by the end of the day.
Smith said he was surprised at how fast Faggotter was riding. “I rode my ass off in the last stage today and only beat Rod by one second,” he said. “We made adjustments to my bike overnight to cater for the softer sand which might have slowed me down a bit. There were lots of twists, turns and crests in the last stage. I'm feeling good for tomorrow.”
Faggotter said the day improved for him stage by stage. “There was lots of moisture this morning, making the sand heavy and testing out the bikes. Bikes and riders were working hard in the first stage. I enjoyed the last stage more. The bike's going well, nothing's broken and the mechanics will just do a routine check tonight.”
Matt Fish is sitting in third place in the motos. “I had a good day, but lost a bit of time from the leaders by making a navigation error in the second stage but only lost a couple of minutes. The bike's going really well and I'm feeling good.”
Shane Diener is the fastest of the Dakar Challenge entries and currently in outright fourth position and said he didn't push it today. “I had a steady ride and took it easy. Psychologically I felt good when I rode past the place I crashed last year. The bike's going real good.”
Rally champion Alister McRae held his seventh position. “I dropped a little time this morning – I stopped to help Warren Strange after he waved me down, and towed him the last 10km of the first stage. I didn't really enjoy the first stage, it was hard work and hard on the bike, but the last stage was really good.” He said his navigating was getting better day-by-day. “Riding is more mentally and physically exhausting than driving in a rally.”
John Maragozidis on his 2010 MMR Interceptor finished the day nine minutes over his nearest rival.
“I broke an exhaust bracket and overheated, but otherwise had a good day. It's all ok; it's just the normal stuff Safari dishes out.”
Heath Young in second place said he was feeling great. “I had a good day; I got the navigation scroll working for today. I broke a fuel line in the last stage and had fuel leaking all over my foot. I stopped and replaced the fuel line fitting, made sure it was working and kept going.”