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Old 09-07-2007, 10:38 PM   #1
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Pilbara has a crack at Oz Safari as Moto #23

Well it was advertised as the first time the Australian Safari was being run in Western Australia and part of the course was going to go right through were I live; in the Pilbara. There was even an overnight stop planned in Newman my home town, so it seemed that as I am not getting any younger, had just started riding adventure bikes that entering the event would be a good idea.

All I needed was a support crew, I bought the book on previous Australian Safaris by Bob Carpenter and started getting lots of ideas from ADV rider inmates. I mentioned I was going to have a go to a few people and soon had Dan was asking if he could come along. Dan sarted helping me to get organised. Dan has a XR250 and is a keen 4WDer and camper so he was keen to come along. Kerry my wife was also wanting to be a part so she was in charge of food. Another work friend from a previous life sent me an email asking me how things were going out of the blue and we got talking about the safari and he was keen to come along as well.

Now none of us had done anything like this before, none of the guys were bike mechanics, Donaldson Filtration got hold of the idea from a work enquiry and they were keen to back with some money so it was all on.

After much preperation this is the support ute we ended up with; signage care of Strang Sign in Newman and we were off.
We stopped in Broome to pick up Gerry Harber who runs a Risk and Compliance consutlancy business and then it was on to Kununarra for the start of a new adventure.

Now I live half way through this event and we still had to drive over 2000km just to get to the start line, I really feel for the other competitors from Perth and even more so the ones from eastern states and over seas. An epic journey just to get there.

Finally after a few days of travel we arrived in Kununarra

The reality of the event soon hit hard when we saw the money and teams that were already camped up and prepared at the Kununarra Leisure Centre oval, it was amazing this is one serious event, works Hondas, Yamahas and KTMs with full support crews of mechanics, managers, masseurs and doctors, they had everthing! Teams with Winnebagos you name it this was money plus.

We found a spot down the back of the oval with our camper and the KTM950SE; the largest capacity bike in the M2.3 class by a long shot. All the serious teams with the big dollars and setups were using 450s, KTM had a few rallye bikes and there were plenty of 525s around as well. All of a sudden I was wondering why I was the only 950 there. Then I found a guy from NT with a 990 Adventure in the Super Production class. So I did not feel that bad. But I was the only KTM950SE rider....

This was our office and race strategy dept, Gerry was in charge of fuel and check lists - thanks Gerry!

Thankfully Richard M and Nick came by and gave me a few pointers on how to set up and mark the roadbook, and before I knew it we were lining up to start something new in my life

Howard is on the DRZ in front and Nick is on a 525 behind and the nervous 950 sandwiched inbetween. What am I in for? Fred was in front of Howard carrying the infamous (actually now famous pudding).

Day one will be the next installment.


Pilbara screwed with this post 09-08-2007 at 01:02 AM
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:51 PM   #2
just passin' through
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oh - wow
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Old 09-08-2007, 12:36 AM   #3
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Old 09-08-2007, 01:50 AM   #4
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I hear it was not the only thing you had a crack at

But i'm in, this will be good
So many roads . . .
So little time!

If I'm in here, I'm suffering from PMS
(Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)
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Old 09-08-2007, 02:14 AM   #5
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Leg 1

OUt of Kununurra there was a short liason of 10km to the first Selective Section; Flying Fox a 40km timed section. I was behind Howard on his DRZ400 and was in his dust after about 10km. He had mentioned that I could radio him if I needed to pass but I thought well you better get used to riding in dust this is the first of 9 days of it. There was some water....

This was the first time I have ridden and Navigated from a MD Roadbook so I was practising some of the techniques suggested by Safari veteran GTinAus. I was having trouble keeping myself out of the dust and kept remembering Richard M's advice on making sure you can see and read every instruction. I pushed forward whenever I thought I could see a clear patch beside the DRZ in front but invariably a big dust cloud would blind me and I had to be on the brakes. This was the first SS of the whole competition and I knew I needed to take it easy but I succummed ot what seemed like the wind blowing the right way for a while so had a crack at getting up along side Howard only to be blinded by a big dust cloud after just glimpsing a chopper parked off to the right hand side of the track. Unfortunately for me the track kinked right and I was on the brakes going straight and into the bush a couple of bounces lucky to miss all the trees and bang the bottom cased and I was down. Now this was my first lesson in film crews and choppers, if you see them it means there is good footage and when I picked up my bike and started to get it going again there was a cameraman with a huge TV camera right on top of me - he got the lot!

The crash had put me back in 38th place for that section I think I started in 34th. After another 100 odd km of liason it was on to Bow River SS2; a short 20km dash. I thought this was going well until near the end of the section I saw a bike coming back towards me. I figured I was the new one at navigating so he must have gone the wrong way and was back tracking. I saw some tracks of to the left so took off after them. Things were not making sense with the roadbook so I figured maybe I was on the right track and the other guy coming back had it wrong, turns out that was the case so back I went to my original course and the check point was right there. This little excursion took me back to 46th for that selective.

SOme of the locals at Warmun

Fueled up in Warmun and my crew said I had plenty of time as they had allowed 10 minutes for refueling.

Like I said we were all new to this game so did not really know what was going on, I wondered why everyone else was on there bike and out straight away...I got caught out on the next liason and lost a lot of time; one for mucking around and two for following behind some other dubai boys so as not to creat dust. I was having a bit of trouble with nav when the liason went off road too, I don't think I was the only one. The ground was hard and I could not see any other tracks so stopped a few times to try and decipher what was going on. SS3 was Macintosh Hills and I was pissed for losing time and cocking up on the liason so I got into it. It was a great fast section about 40km and I was soon passing a couple of riders. The last 10 km I had to sit back in dust as I just could not see my way past. At the stop the guy said he saw me come up on him a few times but decided he did not want to have ot be in my dust so did not let me by. Finished SS3 in 29th position.

Another short liason saw us into SS4; Sophie Downs only 20km or so and it was a blast poking my way through dust to come in 22nd. The next liason into halls creek I thought I was not going to get caught out again by losing time so gave it to it a bit and what a ride big wide gravel roads undulating with fast speedway type corners, me and the 950 had a ball, what a blast. Even getting into it I still only came in 2 min before my due time. Hmmm this rallye stuff was begining to be interesting. Certainly a steep learning curve.

A quick fuel up in Halls Creek stuff soem food in and off down the highway for a 100km to SS5 Louisa Downs, took this one fairly steady as I figured I had nearly survived day one and did not want to blow it on the home stretch. Finished this section in 29th.

A quick roadside refuel at a parking bay called Larawa and off to the Fittzroy Crossing Bivouac and finished the day or Leg 1 in 30th position. Had some repairs to do on the bike from the crash in SS1. Finally getting to bed at 1am the next moring only to be woken at 4am for the start of day 2. God I wish I had a mechanic and a winnebago to sleep in.

Still I guess the camper was better than a tent - maybe...

I had no idea of what postions I was in all day and only now that I have the results available have been able to quote them in the text above as I write this. I did find late this night that I was starting in position 31 tomorrow so I guessed I was not going backwards...I had fun on the 950 for the day!

See ya tomorrow
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Old 09-08-2007, 02:24 AM   #6
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:26 AM   #7
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Pilbara, weren't you out of commission for a while, are you now fully recovered?

Looks great, keep it comin' and thanks for posting in RR forum again
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by kktos
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Old 09-08-2007, 07:37 PM   #9
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Great pics and repport. Keep it coming.
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Old 09-09-2007, 12:45 AM   #10
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NOt quite...

Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Pilbara, weren't you out of commission for a while, are you now fully recovered?
I went to the doc to see why I had such pain in the thorasic area and turns out the hospital in Hedland missed a report. I have fractured C6 as well and T4 is not well. Other than that and the fracture on L2 I am just fine!

I can type, but not for long so this report might take a while....

Here is another shot coming into Warum in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, big country!

Leg 2 up shortly - hopefully

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Old 09-09-2007, 02:00 AM   #11
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Looking forward to the rest of this.

Good to see your dedication to bringing us this great report
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Old 09-09-2007, 02:56 AM   #12
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Leg 2

Day 2 of the Australian Safari, a new experience for me and the KTM950SE. Donaldson Filtration among a few other sponsors kicked in to help it all along. I am so grateful for their help I had to mention it again.
I was so very surprised at the factory teams and how much they invest into an event like this, it really is amazing and entering on the only 950SE in the event and the closest next capacity down being a few of the new 690 rallyes I had no illusions as to how tough it was going to be for me. When I asked of the price of one of the 690 bikes being worked on in the KTM arena, I was not surprised to learn you could not actually by this one and it is worth $55 grand. Phew, bit out of my league, but I was here to have some fun so that was what me the 950 and my crew were going to do.
Being without a mechanic and working till 1am on the bike this morning and being woken by Gerry our time keeper before 4am I had only got about 3 hours sleep. Starting of at 6:30am I had a short liaison out of the Fitzroy Lodge motor camp to SS6 GoGo Station. Lining up things looked terrible this was going to be fast very fast, it was going to be GoGo alright! which is great for a motor like mine but there was not a whisper of wind and as the bikes headed of the line before me they disappeared into the dust of the previous riders straight away. Oh this looks ominous I thought, going to have to hold back in dust.
Well it was a blast fast station tracks with a few surprises and I managed to pick off a few riders somehow but the one I needed to really get past near the end of the stage to make good time would just not let his dust out of my way so back I stayed, I radioed him a couple of times but he would not budge, I am sure all he would have heard was motor anyway. I am really surprised now looking at the results I came in 16th for the stage only 21 seconds slower than Casey McCoy and 1min 19 sec slower than the $55K 690 KTM. I know there were some very fast bits in there and being a learner with navigating you really had to keep 120% concentrations happening and take real care in the dust!!!!

After about another 70km of liaison it was on to SS7; Fitzroy river, I thought the previous section was fast well this was ballistic! In places. It had a mix of all sorts being run down the Fitzroy river bed. And if I was surprised with the results of the first section, reading the results now for this section I am I was in the top ten, yep 10th fastest time for Selective Section 7. I am really starting to like my KTM950SE

About half way through SS7 the 950 started to make some new noises, I knew it was coming from the exhaust and suspected that the manifold bolts were coming loose when it really started to bark LOUD! Soon it was becoming unbearable and I thiught you have blown a hole through the header holding thid thing flat for so long! I stopped had a look only to find that the exhaust had completely broken just behind the collector of the two headers. That's OK I thought and got straight back into it. Sure it was OK but LOUD is an understatement it was like a motor with a set of drag pipes on full noise. My head was ringing for days after this. SS7 was about 100km and half of it I reckon I did with the pipe broken, god knows what some of the guys I passed on the way thought was happening. I did not need to use the Splash and Dash fuel stop at Cambalin and went straight on the hundred kms to Gt Nth Hwy. I idled in so as not to attract to much attention, I am sure some thought a V8 was coming in without mufflers. When I got of the bike the crew was asking if I was allright? I was looking like I was on drugs, it was just the exhaust noise that has absolutley shattered me. I fueled up and got onto the highway for another 100 odd kms to the midday service at Willare.

Once there and only limited time to get fed and watered I got out the oxy set and tried to weld up the break as much as I could. Without removing the exhaust I could only get about 3/4 the way around. It was quieter again but I was dubious as to how long it would last. All this section of pipe and bash plate took a real hiding on the crash on the first selective of day one.

OUt of Willare for a liaison of 16km and then onto another fast stage with soem tight stuff thrown in and you had to be right on with the navigation. This was a long stage and I was fuelled right up probably too much. Fred Powell stopped at a gate and let me on which was great and I returned the favour by hanging back at a point where nav was going wrong for a lot of people. I was getting wound up and then some cattle yards and fences started to come into play and a rider waved me down. It was Casey McCoy he was not having a good day by the looks and asked if I would hold his yamaha up while he tried to put the back wheel back in. It was one of those typical frustrating times each time he tried to put the wheel in the sprocket would fall out then jam then the brake pads would not cooperate - a disaster!

I finally got going again after lots of others had scooted on past. The country opened up into some fast stuff again after tight and rough and the exhaust had broken off completely again. I put earplugs in at the lunch break but it did not seem to make the growling 950 twin any less resonating in my head.

Some incredible looking country along the way.

At one part of this stage bushfires were raging and we were riding right past flames on the side of the tracks. A little concerning

The exhaust had parted company and now the rack on the back of the bike had pulled all the thread inserts out of the SE aluminium subframe, so I had to slow during the rough bits in fear of losing the whole ass end of the bike.
I stopped and cable tied up what I could and limped on to the end of the section - at speed. I must have because I was now at the end of day 2 in 16th position overall. Coming into Broome they stopped us at a media type spot and I was conscious of the noise my bike was making so hung around till all the guys who had taken there helmets off and were getting filmed had stopped talking. In hindsight it would have been pretty funny to roar off during a rider interview but there were some oldies around and I did not want them to have a heart attack

Well there was a lot of work to be done at the Broome Bivouac, luckily I had a spare subframe so the whole back end came off that night and the subframe got replaced. Fred got the pudding out while we were doing this and it got photographed on the 950SE with Fred showing just how fit he is for a 48 year old. A fine pudding carrier

Back is killing me so that's all today folks...


Pilbara screwed with this post 09-09-2007 at 03:03 AM
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Old 09-10-2007, 06:00 AM   #13
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Out of order I know but here is a few of before the...

...start of the race at Kununurra.
Getting sorted to go

on the way to do a speedo test

Leg 3 will be on its way soon, just got to get used to this brace they just realised I needed to be wearing.

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Old 09-10-2007, 06:43 AM   #14
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Thanks for sharing and taking us along! what a great story! hope you feel better soon!
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:09 AM   #15
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Respect. So glad your injuries aren't worse, and can't wait to hear more.
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