On Safari with Craig Lowndes

Driving deity Craig Lowndes guides us through the 2011 Australasian Safari – the country’s toughest motorsport event

Leg 1
24 September, Mount Magnet

Craig Lowndes and navigator John Panozzo are driving through WA for the PWR Holden Rally Team in a 2003 Holden Colorado.“Besides backing into a tree, we had a clean run today. The stages were rocky and rutty, and the wildflowers were extremely slippery, making the car slide. We took out a small scrub and managed to slide through the next patch OK,” Craig tells MAXIM – reinforcing our belief that wildflowers are a seriously underrated threat.
Leg 2
25 September, Sandstone

With a 14-minute lead now under Holden’s belt, Lowndes says, “Today was good – the stages were much better than yesterday. There were a lot of fast sections, and it was a lot less slippery. We even saw a family of emus.” If that doesn’t get the adrenalin pumping then we don’t know what does!
Leg 5
28 September, Laverton to Lenora

Craig loses his lead in the most hardcore fashion possible, short of waging a one-man war on the Decepticons and having his car destroyed. He tips the Colorado on its side during a manoeuvre around a tree during the first stage of the day, in the WA goldfields. A time penalty means Holden relinquishes its 20-minute lead. “We were going around a left hand corner in second gear, clipped a tree and ricocheted off it, the left hand rear rim dug in, and the car just slid onto its side. It was a soft sandy turn so we weren’t hurt,” Craig explains.
Leg 7
30 September, Kalgoorlie

On the final day of the rally, PWR wins three of the day’s four stages and makes up a deficit of almost 20 minutes. But it’s not enough for a podium finish, and they end up seventh in the field of 15. Not that Craig lets it get to him: Just one week later, he gets behind the wheel for Holden at the Bathurst 1000 and places second (by 0.3 seconds – the smallest margin ever) with teammate Mark Skaife. Suck on that, wildflowers!

Safari stats
The 2011 even was the 26th Australasian Safari held.
Ninety teams from around the world competed over eight days in auto, moto and quad bike categories.
Kilometres covered: 4000.
Support crew: 500.
Planes: Two
Helicopters: One.
Toilets and showers: 20.
Motor homes: Four.
Equipment: 1.9 tonnes worth.

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