Faggotter Wins Australasian Safari On Sixth Attempt
Queensland Yamaha dealer Rod Faggotter took a convincing win in the Australasian Safari’s Moto class. The final Leg of Safari saw competitors tackle three stages including a beach blast southbound from Kalbarri, farmland with sharp rocky tracks, steep beach descents, a fast run through sheep paddocks, weaving through gates, along and between fences and across open paddocks with crests, gutters, ruts and creeks all creating hazards.
“I’m really happy; it took a while to get here and it feels surreal at the moment,” Faggotter said after six attempts at victory. “I didn’t really do anything spectacular this week. I had a dream run with no real mechanical issues. It was great to finally bring it home again for Yamaha too. They’ve been a great support.” The last win by Yamaha at the Safari was by Alan Cunningham in 1986.
Matt Fish on KTM 500 EXC overcame the disappointment experienced at previous Safaris to secure a podium finish—placing second. “I’m feeling really good,” Fish said. “I’ve been disappointed to have not made it to the finish in the last couple of years. Just finishing the Safari feels fantastic, let alone making it to the podium. Today’s stages were short, but quite tricky. I didn’t take any risks; I just wanted to get to the finish line.”
Shane Diener put a second Yamaha rider on the podium—the first time in the history of Safari. “I’m really happy and really relieved,” Diener said after ending years of frustration. “I’ve had six starts in seven years and this is the first time I’ve finished it. In previous years it’s always been a mechanical issue or I’ve been broken.”
Diener also won the Dakar Challenge. “I’m actively looking for sponsors if anyone out there is interested!” he said. “I’ll now be getting a budget together and starting to source a bike.” The Dakar Challenge, awards a free entry to Dakar for the fastest Moto and Auto competitors who’ve not previously entered the world’s hardest motorsport event. An American team, sisters Amy Lerner and Tricia Reina, won the Dakar Challenge in the Auto category.
Other notable mentions in the Moto category are Lee Stephens, who has managed to achieve a fourth place finish in his first Safari, coming into the event with a motocross background. He won a free entry into Australasian Safari from the Safari Challenge at the Condo 750. Rally champion Alister McRae had a huge week finishing fifth also in his first Safari and one of his first moto events.
KTM was a stand out manufacturer, with seven out of the top ten Moto competitors on its bikes.
Strange said although it was a very difficult time, it was fantastic to see all the riders paying a moving tribute to Ivan Erceg, who was killed in an accident on Leg 5. Australasia competitors finished on the stunning Geraldton foreshore where a guard of honor was formed by Moto riders and the DMC Rally team as their team member Ivan Erceg’s bike #19 and race card were solemnly delivered through the finish line by close mate and multiple-time Safari competitor Vern Strange. “We’re all devastated,” Strange said. “I was really proud to ride with his number and carry his card in.”
The Australasian Safari, ran from September 20-27, 2013 and is known as one of the toughest and most challenging motorsport events in the world. This year’s course was approximately 3200 kilometers through the Western Australia.
Photography by Sabine Albers and Keith Hedgeland
2013 Australasian Safari Final Results – Moto Class
1. Rod Faggotter – Yamaha WR450F – 19:11:26
2. Matt Fish – KTM 500 EXC – 19:31:21
3. Shane Diener – Yamaha WR450F – 19:48:27
4. Lee Stephens – KTM 500 EXC – 20:16:28
5. Alister McRae – KTM 500 EXC – 20:22:41
6. Russell Scobel – Honda CRF450X – 21:03:13
7. Ryan Ingram – KTM 500 EXC – 21:48:08
8. Troy O’Connor – KTM 500 EXC – 22:09:19
9. Tim Foreman – KTM 500 EXC – 22:58:26
10. Stan Watt – KTM 500 EXC – 23:23:50