-- Wildwood Rock 2012
-- By Russell Colvin
The 2012 Force Accessories Wildwood Rock Extreme Challenge has once again lived up to expectation of being the hardest and most demanding enduro in the country.
For the third time running in a row, on a dusty and dry Sunday, November the 11th riders faced a 13Km man-made track with tyres, water holes, ute tubs and barrels, bricks and lots of rocks and step hills to contend for a grueling three hours!
The big name star to make the long trip to Australia this year for the event was Spanish star Alfredo Gomez riding for Husaberg. It was the 23-year-old’s first trip to the ‘land down under’ and the 2007 Youth Trial and 2011 Junior Trial World champion said, “I’m very happy to be racing here in Australia for the first time.”
In the morning prologue session which sorted the starting grid out for the main show it was taken out by Mitch Harper with time of 2:25.006, 19.048 seconds ahead of Gomez.
“I took it kind of easy so I didn't bust myself for the main race, and ended up winning it over Alfredo Gomez by 19 seconds so I’m stoked about that” said Harper.
For Gomez, it wasn’t all smooth sailing after hitting the deck; “I made a little mistake in the water when I crashed, but I picked the bike up to finish second behind (Mitch) Harper)” explained Gomez.
Thomas Tuckerman was third with Robert Nowak and Dylan Rees rounding out the top five.
The stage was set for a sunny afternoons worth of racing around the rolling hills of Sunbury, and after a minutes silent at 11am to remember those who lost their lives fighting for this great country, the battle was on!
Drama unfolded for the fast man in the prologue session for Harper when his bike wouldn’t start which left him behind at in a cloud of dust. He did manage to take the lead by the first quarter of a lap then had a minor tumble which ended with his Yamaha landing on his hand, twisting his middle finger fully sideways which forced the 20-year-old from Bright (VIC) to pull out.
“It was very painful and couldn't hang on from there, managed to a lap pretty much one handed then pulled out.” Harper said.
The end result after a scan, showed Harper had broken his hand and dislocated his middle finger.
Overall victory went to 19-year-old fast rising star Matthew Phillips (Motorcycle scene/YRD/Force Accessories). After starting ninth Phillips lead for the remaining five laps and ended up winning with a total time of 3:09:12.221. 2:45.221 clear of Gomez.
With a $10,000 pay cheque and a first place trophy Phillips said after the race “Another tough day at the office.
“I came into this event very motivated to try and take the win. The prologue didn’t go to plan, I got hooked up in the house the tyres hanging off the roof, so ended up qualifying ninth for the main race so I started on the second row.
“I started behind, but slowly made my way to the front. Once in front I swapped the lead a few times before I secured it and then checked out.
“My biggest weakness today was in the real technical rocks, it was really the next level above what we are used to.
“But overall I’m really happy, my Yamaha YZF-250 didn’t let me down it performed really well today.”
When asked what is this race like mentally wise, Phillips summed it up in one by explaining, “It’s not like going trail bike riding in the bush, you do one lap, then as you finish the hard rock section you have some roads which are just rock filled then you come around to the finish and you have man-made obstacles which you never get a rest there, they are slippery because they are always covered in water, so it’s a tough three-hour event.
“It is pretty incredible for these club riders and these other riders who come out to have a go, it’s pretty impressive.”
So what will this young Tasmania do with $10,000? “I’m investing on a house at the moment so probably won’t see that ten thousand dollars it will be straight into the bank” he laughed.
For 2013 will he back again to slog it out for another three hours, “I think so, not sure what brand of bike I’ll be riding, but I’ll be back next year to defend the title.
“Today was very special, being Remembrance Day and managing to finish the event and put an Australian on top feels real good, I’m sure my Pop will be proud.”
Runner-up Alfredo Gomez was all smiles after the race, “In the race, I was able to ride fast, but (Matthew) Phillips was quicker in the fast section of the circuit.
“He was too fast for me. I made little mistakes, he followed me every time, but then he took the lead and won the race.”
In third position, and one lap behind was Victorian’s Dylan Rees on his Sherco (Powerhouse Motorcycles) who put in a gutsy performance and was thrilled with his final step on the podium.
“I’m exhausted” said Rees after the race. “The last hour felt like six hours, but I’m wrapped to have come home in third” added the 32 year old.
Fourth place went to Jade Gartlan, who was also the first Expert Class rider home. Chris Cash took fifth, and second place in the Expert class.
A stand out performance in sixth place was Tim Colemen riding his 2008 model KTM 200. Colemen who is no stranger to bouncing over rocks but normally on a trials bike, made his second ever enduro outing and had a ball on Sunday.
“I thought Wildwood was a really tough event. More physically demanding just being three hours, not so much the course being really difficult.
“This was my second enduro and had a great time. I’d love to do more of these extreme events, they really interest me” added Colemen.
The final word but should be left to the event organiser Steven Braszell who put his heart and soul into this event helping to make it a ripper of a show for the riders and race fans.
“I think the day was perfect and it was great to see Matthew Phillips banging bars all day with Spanish rider Alfredo Gomez.
“I design the track with changes every year to give the riders a hard enduro track that tests their skill and endurance over the three-hour time, this also let's spectators see bikes doing things that they would sometimes never get to experience so closely at any other event.
“I really just enjoy seeing each rider have a go at what everyone already knows will be a hard event. It is all about having a go and with the amount of Pro rider numbers dropping off and the clubman class growing, it is clear that a new breed of hard enduro riders are growing in numbers.
“I am looking forward to 2013 and what it brings, with the event being FIM listed as one of few world extreme enduro events the door is open for overseas riders to come and challenge for the $10,000 that is on offer for the outright winner.
“A huge thank you to FORCE ACCESSORIES for being the biggest supporter of the event and also a big thanks to all the other sponsors, Coates Hire, Malise Clothing, Choice Suspension, Sunbury Bakers delight, Sunbury Motorcycle Hub, Central Steel, Ringmaster Images, Sports camera, Newlite Bike, Motorcycle movers, Sound system studios, Sunbury Buses, network scaffolding, Trials experience. Also the Wildwood Rock Motorcycle Club, Kim, Kaiden, Sofie and to all my family that help out with getting the event ready.”
1st: Matthew Phillips (Yamaha) 9 laps 3:09:12.221
2nd: Alfredo Gomez-Cantero (Husaberg) 9 laps 3:11:57.432
3rd: Dylan Rees (Sherco) 8 laps 3:23:49.464
4th: Timothy Colemen (KTM) 6 laps 2:55:54.084
5: Robert Nowak 6 laps 3:01:39.285
6: Tony Albert 3 laps 3:15::30.570
7: Brad Madigan 4 laps 2:55:04.972
Mitch Harper 1:59.452
Trevor Campbell 2:39.829
1st: Jade Gartlan (TM) 7 laps 3:21:09.405
2nd: Chris Cash 7 laps 3:21:15.073
3rd: Shaun Bruton 6 laps 3:24:28.663
4th: Kristie McKinnon 5 laps 2:57:07.705
5th: Jason Hass 5 laps 3:05:25.207
6th: Sam Rummery 5 laps 3:24:11.645
Shane Moss 2 laps 54:48.627
Thomas Tuckerman 2 laps 1:03:24.870
Jessica Gardiner 5:43.427
Craig Evans 7:00.911
1st: Chris Perry 6 laps 3:12:08.245
2nd: Simon Van-Baalen 6 laps 3:31:26.662
3rd: Craig Charleston 5 laps 3:15:36.864
4th: Ben Alfred 5 laps 3:33:12.023
5th: Aaron Cousins 4 laps 2:53:40.150
6th: Rohan Richards 4 laps 2:54:53.890
7th: Darren Jessett 4 laps 2:57:54.581
8th: Allan Dahlitz 4 laps 3:06:03.366
9th: Jesse Redpath 4 laps 3:15:32.907
10th: Jean-Christophe Bonneville 4 laps 3:25:39.057
11th: Ben Foster 4 laps 3:34:22.568
12th: Don Murray 3 laps 3:27:35.029
13th: Sean Campbell 2 laps 3:07:19.554
14th: Grady Byrne 2 laps 3:12:24.069
15th: Travis Schwarz 1 lap 3:07:40.498
16th: Chris Cox 1 lap 3:09:16:.763
17th: Nathan Watson 1 lap 3:47:39.562
Angus Boud 1 lap 35:06.058
Sam Willison 2:41.990
Joshua Hayes 4:10.310
Brett Nemec 5:47.639
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