-- Todd Smith wins Finke
Todd Smith from Condobolin in New South Wales has been ‘crowned’ King of the Desert after taking victory today in the 38th running of the annual off-road classic event, the Tatts Finke Desert Race.
Following him across the line in second position was his brother Jacob, making for a sibling situation that has not occurred before in the history of the event.
Todd Smith also brought Honda its 20th victory in event’s history, breaking a four year string of wins by KTM.
Riding the #3 Honda CRF450R Todd Smith returned to the Alice Springs start from the overnight stop in Finke in a time of 2 hours 1 minute and 44 seconds. His total time for the event was 4 hours 2 minutes and 8 seconds
Jacob Smith (#11 Honda CRF450R) made the return trip today in a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 58 seconds.
In third place, in his debut Tatts Finke appearance, was Joshua Green from Soldiers Point in NSW on the #X49 Yamaha YZF450.
Green’s time today was 2 hours 3 minutes and 38 seconds. His total event time was 4 hours 7 minutes and 42 seconds.
Fourth outright was Jarrod Bewley (Oberon NSW) on bike #5 Husaberg FE501 who took the chequered flag with a total event time of 4 hours 9 minutes and 30 seconds.
In fifth position overall, Ivan Long (Tanunda SA) #298 KTM 500EXC rode brilliantly today to be third fastest on the road.
Four time Tatts Finke Desert Race winner Ben Grabham (#X99 KTM 450 SX-F) finished 11th overall in a total event time of 4 hours 25 minutes and 17 seconds.
-- Honda Report
Glenn Hoffmann Racing (GHR) riders Todd and Jacob Smith led the Honda domination of the 2013 Finke Desert Race taking 1st and 2nd place respectively. Supported by a total of five Honda CRF450Rs in the top ten, Honda more than proved its endurance ability in what is known as one of Australia’s most difficult off-road competitions.
Strong from the outset, the Smith brothers, lead by Jacob, took the top two spots in the prologue and then went onto enjoy a family duel for much of the two-day race before Todd took the victory from his brother by just under four minutes.
In what is shaping up to be a very successful year for the Smith brothers, they add their 2013 Finke results to several other wins and podiums. Jacob and Todd Smith recently took 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Condo 750 and have proved their stamina and skills in competitions such as the Dakar Rally, the Australasian Safari and the Hattah Desert Race.
Numurkah rider and Peter Hill Honda employee, Ryan Cossens proved his talent and agility on board Honda’s CRF250R arriving at the finish line 1st in class.
While the Desert Edge Race Team (DERT) did not quite achieve the results they were looking for with two riders ending with a DNS, Caleb Auricht achieved an impressive 7th position while team mate Michael Walsh took 13th in the competitive race.
Honda’s CRF450R and CRF250R have long been celebrated off-road champions. With their powerful engines, light frames and the revolutionary Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD) these machines really show their power in competitions such as the Finke Desert Race.
The Finke Desert Race has developed a reputation for being one of the toughest off-road races in the country attracting thousands of interstate visitors to the Northern Territory region every year.
-- KTM Report
Despite a herculean effort in preparation for and during the event, HSE Motorex KTM team’s bid for a fifth-straight win in the Tatts Finke Desert Race did not come off this time round.
Two of the most talented and professional steerers in the game, Matt Fish and Ben Grabham gave it a big fistful for the team, but found themselves unable to combine all the elements required to feature in Australia’s fastest dirt bike race, finishing a disappointed eighth and eleventh respectively.
The race was won by Todd Smith (Honda) from his brother Jake Smith (Honda) and Josh Green (Yamaha).
HSE Motorex KTM team’s Finke champion of 2012 and 2010, Toby Price was unable to defend his crown as he recovers from serious injury suffered during a trip to the US to test for the Baja Rally.
Fourth overall went to Over 450cc class winner Jarrod Bewley (Husaberg’s), while KTM-mounted Ivan Long, who was the third-fastest rider on the trip back from Finke this morning, rounded out the overall top-five.
Fish overcame a pinched nerve which left him unable to feel his throttle hand on the down leg, to slice more than two minutes off his return time and post a respectable 2:08:06.
The comeback story of Australian rally and desert racing, Bathurst’s Ben Grabham, continued down the long path back to the kind of speed which won him four Finke crowns, with an 11th place finish.
While most mortals would be happy with such an achievement a mere 15 months after fracturing their spine, Grabbo knew he just wasn’t feeling it, and was bitterly disappointed.
Four and a half minutes behind him Luke Hayes was just the fourth of the locals home, eight minutes clear of another Alice local, Kenny Armstead, in 16th.
KTM mounted class winners included Tasmanian Lincoln Bird (250cc+ Two-Stroke) and 500EXC-mounted Brandon Kienhuis (40-44 years).
JEFF LEISK, KTM AUSTRALIA GM– “If we weren’t disappointed with how we went this time there'd be something wrong, but there are some positives for us to take away and we’ll regroup and come back twice as strong.
"This is an extremely tough race and that’s what attracts KTM. Both boys put in solid rides and the bikes were extremely reliable and came home strong. It wasn’t our year this time but we’ve got a great platform to go forward with next year. I know Ben is disappointed as a four-time winner but this time last year he wasn’t even a starter so the challenge was a good confidence builder."
BRAD WILLISCROFT, TEAM MANAGER – “We’ve won the last four races here and you can’t win every year - occasionally the cards won’t fall into place for you and for us that was this year. You learn from winning but you sometimes learn more from losing so we’ll take it on board and come back bigger and better next year.
It’s been a massive team effort and I’d just like to thank the whole team for their efforts."
BEN GRABHAM – “Straight up I'm pretty disappointed with myself. The last four times I’ve ridden across that finish line it’s been in first place so I’ve become a bit used to it!
"To be honest, I feel I let the boys down, but at least I’ve learned a lot these last few days about where I need to be to run at the pointy end.
"My run was pretty clean. I tried to push early yesterday but I had a few moments early and I lost my rhythm, but at least it’s something to build on.
"Thanks to everyone who put in the effort, the bike was great; I just couldn’t do it on the day.
"I suppose it would be too easy if I could spend six months laying on my back and come straight back in at the top - there's gotta’ be some hard work in it! Besides, compared to where I was this time last year, where I am now is a pretty good place.”
MATT FISH – “Well, no excuses there were a number of things that weren’t quite there today and we had our butts handed to us. The bike was fast enough, the team put in a huge effort, but we missed the mark by a little bit with our setup and it cost us badly.
"I had an okay run apart from a pinched nerve on the way down. My right hand went numb on the way down and I lost some time but Tim Cole worked on it last night in camp and it went away.
"We’ll take a lot out of this and be back with a vengeance next time to put the KTMs back on top."
Provisional Results: 2013 Tatts Finke Desert Race
1. T. Smith, Honda 04:02:08
2. J. Smith, Honda 04:06:03
3. J. Green, Yamaha 04:07:42
4. J. Bewley, Husaberg 04:09:30
5. I. Long, KTM 04:10:44
6. J. Dooley-Mcdonnell, Honda 04:13:14
7. C. Auricht, Honda 04:16:08
8. M. Fish, KTM 04:17:48
9. L. Summers, Kawasaki 04:21:43 10. L. Marr, Honda 04:22:18
11. B. Grabham, KTM 04:25:17
12. L. Hayes, KTM 04:28:46
-- Husaberg Report
Husaberg rider Jarrod Bewley rode a near faultless Monday leg to the Tatts Finke Desert Race to win the Over-450 class and be fourth rider back into Alice Springs this afternoon.
The former Australian Enduro Champion from Oberon had earlier qualified fourth fastest in the Saturday Prologue and started Sunday’s down-leg on the second two-rider grid, alongside Yamaha rider AJ Roberts.
Bewley launched the Husaberg FE501 into the lead of his minute, enjoying clear air all the way to Finke to be fourth on the road behind three 450-class riders, eventual winner Todd Smith (Honda), Jake Smith (Honda) and Josh Green (Yamaha).
With the blisters setting in, Bewley shaved an astonishing two minutes off his return leg to set a time just three seconds slower than third placed rider Green, however, it wasn’t enough to change the outright top four positions and he took a well-deserved fourth overall and Over- 450cc class win.
The Husaberg Australia rider will ride the mighty FE501 at the Hattah Desert Race early next month.
JARROD BEWLEY “Well that was a tough one. I got fourth in the prologue and a second grid start and I was really happy with that. I holeshotted AJ Roberts and had clear air the whole way down. The bike was going great although I maybe had the suspension too stiff because it beat me up a little. I had a pretty safe run with no crashes or major mishaps.
"On the run back today the boys from the 1800 Simford Team nailed the fuel stop, but the track was the hardest I’ve experienced in three years. With all the moisture in it the buggies really dug it out and brought out all the really bad square edges. I had a few moments in the whoops but got back safe and it’s great to win the class.
"I feel like I had a win because I was the first non-full factory guy home and I can’t thank the people who supported me enough.
"The Husaberg 501FE was such a great bike for the trip, mine is stock standard with an exhaust and it make plenty of power and speed. Any guy who wants to do it as privateer you couldn’t go past it as a Finke bike.”
-- Active8 Yamaha Report
Active8 Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team’s Josh Green rode to an impressive third place finish in this year's grueling Tatts Finke Desert Race, held Sunday and Monday in the Northern Territory.
Green, 22, finished the 456-kilometer blast from Alice Springs to the small Aputula (Finke) community and back just a minute forty behind seasoned desert racer, Jake Smith. Todd Smith was the Outright victor.
“It’s the first time since about 2005 that a Yamaha has been on the podium,” Green's team manager and fellow competitor, AJ Roberts, said.
“The last time we took the Outright was when Stephen Gall won in 1986.
“This is our team’s ambition, to hopefully put Yamaha back on the top step one day.
“Josh’s podium result this year was a huge step forward for us and we couldn't be more proud of his effort.”
Green said that he was thrilled to get a blue machine up on the box in an event that had “pretty much been an orange show".
"KTM have dominated Finke for a long time," Green said. " I certainly didn't expect to come out and finish ahead of guys like Ben Grabham or land on the podium, especially considering this is my first Finke and the first time I've even attended one of them.
"My YZ450F really was the best bike for the job and the support I have received from Yamaha and my team has been incredible.
"I couldn't have achieved any of this without them."
Green said the race certainly was “scary".
"Apparently it was the toughest the track's been in years," he said. "It was about four times rougher than I was prepared for.
“The soft sand came through and the ruts and whoops got really deep.
"My run down was super dusty and I had to pass like four people - no mean feat when you're traveling at over a hundred and fifty kilometers per hour through meter deep sand whoops.
"I was going great on the way home, catching people and making clean passes. It was going really well, until my hands tore to shreds.
"They hadn't totally healed from the Yamaha AORC a few weeks ago... I've never had blisters and tears in my hands this bad, that's for sure."
But Green said the atmosphere of this iconic race and its more than 10,000 revelers more than made up for any pain he was experiencing.
"It's amazing the amount of people that get involved," he said.
"It's crazy - the whole 226 kilometers you don't go five minutes without seeing people camping and cheering, right on the edge of the track.
"The camping atmosphere at the other end was awesome, too. I saw better fireworks than I saw at New Year's and everyone was camped out. It was very cool."
Green adds this podium result to his first Yamaha AORC Outright victory, scored at round five in Victoria.
"Everything's starting to come together for me. I'm maturing as a rider and I think a lot more - I'm not hanging it out as much.
"I just want to keep getting good results and getting Yamaha on the podium.
"It's not even about winning for me. I just want to get good results every weekend, be consistent and be seen everywhere I go."
Green’s team boss, AJ Roberts, also competed aboard a YZ450F and finished third in the prologue for the race, but was unfortunately forced to retire at about the 80-kilometer mark on day one after pinching a nerve in his neck.
The 30-year-old from Bribie Island (QLD) said he was recovering well and should definitely be back on the bike for the next national race: rounds seven and eight of the Yamaha AORC being held at Coonawarra (SA) on June 29th and 30th.
Yamaha did claim a class win for the motorcycles, with long-time Finke campaigner, Rod Faggotter, claiming the top spot in the Master’s 35 to 39-years Class.
Faggotter finished a commendable 14th Outright and was 30-minutes ahead of the second-placed masters class rider.
The Finke Desert Race is one of the biggest community sporting events in the nation and one of the largest annual events in the Northern Territory.
Now in its 38th year, more than 500 bike, car and quad entrants hit the desert to see who was the quickest from Alice Springs to the small Aputula (Finke) community and back - a total of about 440-kilometers in two days.
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