FOR one it’s his first time, for others it’s their 17th.
Some are going to win, while others will be happy just to finish.
The Australasian Safari, one of the country’s most gruelling off-road races, will this year have three entrants from the south-west taking on the bush tracks and bull dust.
The safari runs from September 21-29 and traverses numerous pastoral properties and tough terrain between Perth, Geraldton, Carnarvon and back to Geraldton.
More than 100 competitors in 4x4s, motorcycles and quad bikes will be challenged not only by getting through the terrain at speed but also having to navigate their way.
Among the locals competing is champion quad bike racer Paul Smith, of Mepunga, who is hoping to use the 3000-kilometre race as a launching pad for his assault on the world’s peak off-road race, the Dakar Rally, next year.
Mr Smith said he would be using the safari for “research and development” on a bike he had developed for next year’s 9000km Dakar race in South America.
But he would still be “going out to win” this year’s safari after crashing and breaking his leg in last year’s event.
The injury also broke his run of success in the event, which he won in 2010 after being in the top three in the two previous events.
Clocking up their 17th foray in the safari are seasoned off-road racers Reg Owen and Russell Cairns, of Warrnambool.
Mr Owen said the two had “a gap year” in 2011 but would be back in earnest this time.
He said the event’s attraction was “having to concentrate for a week” and not destroying themselves or their car.
Mr Owen, 67, said the two had won the event about 20 years ago and scored placings since.
“We are going in it just for fun,” he said.
Taking on the event for the first time is Jason Lucas, of Timboon.
Mr Lucas, 54, will race his Honda 700 quad bike, with a support team of his daughter and son-in-law, Kate and Daniel Hutchins.