Aussie desert racing legend Ben Grabham has continued his winning form, powering his 2014 KTM500EXC to victory in the 2013 Gascoyne Dash desert race over the weekend. The HSE Motorex KTM Off-Road Team racer prevailed by over ten minutes in the event which is situated between the seaside town of Carnarvon and Gascoyne Junction, WA.
Just two weeks after his spectacular win in the final stage of the Moroccan World Rally Championship finale, Grabham won both the Saturday and Sunday 200-kilometre stages of the ‘Gas Dash’ in super-high temperatures that exceeded 40 degrees.
His team mate Matt Fish made it a double win for the team, taking his KTM450SX-F to the class win, and finishing second to Grabbo on overall classification, with Gavin Russell making it a trifecta for the orange machines.
Approximately 80 bikes and ATVs faced the starter for Friday’s Prologue, which saw Brodie Black top the time sheets ahead of Grabham, who took a little while to get back into the rhythm of racing the much lighter enduro bike after his recent time aboard the heavy rally bike.
Grabham took the lead in the Saturday loop at Bidgemia Station, and returned back to the Coonatha Bivouac with a lead of 6 minutes and 36 seconds over Black, with Fish having moved from his fourth place start position up to third.
Sunday’s 200-kilometre loop saw approximately 50 kilometres of the dry Gascoyne river bed, and Grabham was able to manage any threats to his lead while Fish fought to eventually find a way past Black, and into second overall.
Ben Grabham: “The Gascoyne is known for the river and it’s got a bit of everything, but it’s a fairly unforgiving track so if you switch off for a second you can have a big crash. Both days it was 43 degrees which was a bit crazy, but then I’ve had a bit of experience in heat over the year and Morocco wasn’t exactly cold. It’s just really hard on the body and not too enjoyable but it’s the same for everyone. I was a little rusty going in. My rally bike I raced in Morocco a fortnight ago weighs 140kg even before the 36 litres of fuel goes in, so my 100-kilo EXC felt like a push bike there for a while and I had to get used to the braking distances. But that 2014 500 EXC has been awesome since I jumped on it – it’s just been a perfect desert bike. By half way through Saturday I was able to hit the lead, then I was able to look after the lead yesterday and win by ten minutes over Fishy.”
Matt Fish: “That’s the hottest I’ve been on a bike in a while but I had a fairly clean weekend. It would have been nice to Prologue better but Saturday was good and it was nice to get in behind Benny yesterday. Dust is always a problem in desert racing but there were some big long sections where there was a strong enough cross wind to push the dust aside so I could pass. That was my last major race of the year and the class win and second overall was a great result to finish on. It’s been a long season but now I’ll give the body a rest then rebuild again for next year.”
Gascoyne Dash Results:
1. Ben Grabham (KTM500 EXC)
2. Matt Fish (KTM450 SX-F)
3. Gavin Russell (KTM450 SX-F)