Toby Price takes fifth Hattah Desert Race victory

Toby Price once again demonstrated why he is Australia’s King of the Desert, showing complete mastery of the unique Hattah conditions aboard his KTM 500 EXC to win his fifth career Hattah Desert race.

The first rider away after setting the fastest time in Saturday’s prologue, Price exploded out to an early lead before settling into a steady race-winning pace that yielded a 3 minute victory over similarly mounted Simmonds, with Yamaha’s Josh Green third overall.

Hattah Desert Race 2015- Toby Price
Hattah Desert Race 2015- Toby Price

Daniel Sanders gave away a mountain of top speed to the big-bore 4-strokes, but as the race went on and top speeds became less reachable Sanders capitalised more and more on the superior manoeuvrability and large, 19-litre KTM Power Parts fuel tank of his ‘little’ KTM 300 EXC -as well as some frenetic riding.

He took over fourth place at the start of the final lap and won the over 250 2-stroke class.

Perth motocrosser Louis Calvin who finished third in last year’s Hattah found the going somewhat tougher this year after prologuing 10th fastest on Saturday. Calvin struggled in the dust during the early laps, leaving the track several times, and spent the rest of the race redressing the damage to eventually finish eighth.

KTM Junior Racing Team rider Mason Semmens also led home a KTM 1-2 at Hattah, winning the 13-16 years 150cc class on his KTM 125, ahead of Jed Polomka, with the Husqvarna of Billy Bray in third.

Husqvarna’s trio of FE 501 machines all bagged top-10 finishes in the annual Mildura epic.

Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team riders Glenn Kearney and Lachy Stanford were seventh and ninth overall respectively, while another champion enduro racer, Jarrod Bewley, finished 10th in his return from semi-retirement, in one of only two race appearances he has scheduled for 2015.

Competitors were tested with seven laps of the 38km course, and Kearney’s ride to seventh outright gave him a podium finish in the high-profile, big bore 4-stroke class, where he finished third behind outright winner Toby Price and Tye Simmonds.

Stanford began the race out of ninth starting position after prologuing just inside the top 10, and struggled early on with dust and turning at high speed in the smooth track conditions before the ruts and berms began to form up.

Husqvarna Junior Motocross rider Callum Norton won his fourth Hattah junior championship in a row, leading home KTM’s Ben Kearns and Liam Mason.

Toby Price – KTM 500 EXC  – 3rd – “Another win today and I’m stoked. It was a good run, after winning the Prologue yesterday we started off from the front and I think that definitely helped, the dust was thicker in the first part of the race before the track chewed and exposed a little bit of moisture in the sandy parts. In the first couple of laps I put on a really good charge and pulled a bit of a gap, and after that I settled into a comfortable pace in and felt really good. The whole team worked really well once again and gave us the equipment that we needed to get a 1-2, as well as a fourth place position and Louis in eighth. It’s unreal. The whole crew did a really good job on our pitstops, Mick Carusi did a really good job prepping all our bikes and Grabbo has done an amazing job is always. The whole team, Mick and Trav and Blizzard, those guys have done in a real job.”

Tye Simmonds – KTM 500 EXC – 2nd – “It was a good day, I loved it back in the day when I did it so I kind of had big expectations and in the end we got there so I’m over the moon. It was so much fun; the first four laps before it started to get a little bit rough, I was having an absolute ball. Obviously there is a reason why Toby is the number one and he showed again today that he is the man to beat. We got a good start and yesterday we walked 8K of the track, so I was all over his wheels for the first 8 kays, but then we got to a new part of the track that I hadn’t seen and he checked out. After that I had a lonely race; Toby was gone and I pulled a gap pretty quick on third, and I don’t think it really got under a minute and a half. Mick, Trav and Grabbo, they set everything up perfect for us, we didn’t even have to do much testing this week, I think we changed a few clickers and that was it. That was all we had to do. So that tells you how good our bikes are and how good we’ve got everything set up.

Josh Green – Yamaha YZ450F – 3rd – “The mistake on the opening lap is what cost me a better result. I felt I could have ran the leaders pace and my fitness is good but when you lose so much time on the first lap to a rider like Toby, you don’t often get the chance to make it back up. Still, it’s nice to be up on the podium and I really enjoy racing here at Hattah. It’s a great event and a real challenge for us riders.”

Hattah Desert Race 2015- Tye Simmonds
Hattah Desert Race 2015- Tye Simmonds

Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders – KTM 300 EXC – “I said I would be giving it a crack and I was swinging off it – I’m stoked with fourth-place. I struggled big-time on the first lap just because it was a flat track the whole way around. S just couldn’t get my legs up the front so I was just hooning it off the back. But after the first lap I could just come in and drag the pegs in the corners, I was pretty much just standing up the whole way and giving it full gas. The 300 really liked that stuff and in the rough stuff it was really good, it could cut across lines and break a bit later and you would miss all the choppy stuff, you can be real choosy with the lines in the tight stuff because it was so manoeuvrable. The weight was a bit different with the extra 10 kg off the front to what you would usually run, but overall I probably saved 2 minutes with that big tank being on. The track wasn’t as rough as I expected to be, but the straights were just really hard to get onto in the end. I was just flapping off it holding on, I caught fourth place at the start of the last lap but I didn’t know how far behind me fifth place was, so I was pushing super hard. Grabbo was stoked with me.”

Hattah Desert Race 2015- Daniel Sanders
Hattah Desert Race 2015- Daniel Sanders

Louis Calvin – 500 EXC – “The start really killed it for me, I was going off track a heap and getting stuck in the dust, it wasn’t the way to start, I just made more work from myself. Aut I rode good, made some really good passes, caught up a lot of time so I’m pretty happy with that. It was another tough race but I just need to keep at it and do more of them. I haven’t been able to do much this year, just been so busy building my house and we had a baby six weeks ago – it’s been flat out this year and the preparation has sort of suffered a bit, but it was still a decent effort I think, and it was awesome fun.”

Hattah Desert Race 2015- Louis Calvin
Hattah Desert Race 2015- Louis Calvin

Ben Grabham, Team Manager – “We had a fantastic day, Toby got his fifth win, Tye got second outright to Toby, then Chucky on the mighty 300 came in fourth. We had a 19-litre KTM Power Parts tank on that thing and it worked out great. He passed a few people when they were doing a fuel stop each lap and he was able to soldier on. All of them rode great to be honest. Louis had a little bit of a tough run compared to what it did last year in eighth. He didn’t prologue that well in 10th, but he rode solid and beat a few good guys. I’d also like to say a special thanks to QuickFix Motorcycles, our KTM dealership here in Mildura, they’ve lent us vehicles and workshops and just been a very big help this week.”

Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney (FE501): “It was a little different than we sort of prepared for and expected this year. Probably a much easier Hattah than they have been. I think a combination of the way they prepped the track and the dry conditions, the track stayed fairly smooth – for Hattah – it tended to get square edged bumps more than sand whoops. It was quite a short, fast race really. Seventh and ninth was where Lachy and I prologued, but both of us dropped back at the beginning and then had to come back through. I’m reasonably happy with how I rode but I sort of lost too much in the first two laps when it was really dusty and the smoothness meant I had no ruts to turn off. Bewley finished 10th on a Husky too so that was pretty cool. Our bikes were flawless and didn’t miss a beat the whole race. Even though it wasn’t as rough as normal it’s still a pretty hard race on the bikes. The fuel stops were exceptional too so a big thanks to Kevvy and Christian, and we have a helper in Dave and Lachy’s Dad Dean helped us as well in the pits, and then we had the wives and girlfriends out on the pit boards, so it was a pretty good effort by everyone.”

Hattah Desert Race 2015- Glenn Kearney
Hattah Desert Race 2015- Glenn Kearney

Lachy Stanford (FE501): “It wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be, so I had a bit of juice left in the tank afterwards, I wish we would have raced a bit longer or something! The first lap was really sketchy with dust, but once we got going one or two laps in it was good. I rode smooth and didn’t make many mistakes, but I lost the front pack on the first lap which was a shame. The track was amazing, the bike was amazing – it was so much fun being on the 501 and I really enjoyed my ride. I’d also like to say a huge thanks to the Husky off-road team for their awesome effort with fuel stops.”

Hattah Desert Race 2015- Lachy Stanford
Hattah Desert Race 2015- Lachy Stanford

Jarrod Bewley (FE 501): “It was really good to be back racing. I haven’t raced since the Six-Day last year and seeing all of the familiar faces was great. I was fairly fit and ready, but it didn’t all go to plan. I started making some moves early in the race and got up to seventh, but then I had a pretty nasty blister form in the middle of my hand. This year the dry track conditions meant that it wasn’t as nicely whooped as normal; it was more hard-packed, square-edged. It eventually tore and it became a bit of a struggle to hold on and to concentrate. I made the decision not to race this year because I wanted to work and try to earn some more money, but this race made me hungry to come back and improve. I’ll be at the four-day and I’ll definitely be back for this next year.”

Callum Norton (FC250): “It was awesome! This is my fourth win in a row. I qualified fastest in the prologue which is a good way to start the day, I was leading the race for a couple of laps, dropped back for a little bit, then made my way back to the front again and won it. It’s one of my favourite races each year, and I’ve won it on the 85 twice and now the 250 twice. It’s different to motocross – I love the speed and the sand, it’s awesome. The crowd is fantastic and the event’s run really well. Then especially on the Sunday it’s awesome to watch all the pro riders and see how fast they go and how good they are.”   

Penrite 2015 Hattah Desert Race Outright Results

1 Toby PRICE KTM EXC 500 3:35:22.774

2 Tye SIMMONDS KTM EXC 500 3:38:22.295         

3 Josh GREEN Yamaha 3:40:23.294

4 Daniel SANDERS KTM 300 EXC 3:43:54.022

5 Beau RALSTON Yamaha 3:46:24.385

6 Nathan TRIGG KTM SXF 450 3:47:01.937             

7 Glenn KEARNEY Husqvarna FE501 3:47:39.980

8 Louis CALVIN KTM 500 3:49:05.107

9 Lachlan STANFORD Husqvarna FE 501 3:49:55.793

10 Jarrod BEWLEY Husqvarna FE 501 3:50:50.757

Penrite 2015 Hattah Desert Race – Juniors – 250cc 13-16 years

1 Callum NORTON Husqvarna 250/4s 2:04:21.329

2 Ben KEARNS KTM 2:06:27.230

3 Liam MASON KTM 2:07:01.693

4 Joshua BRIERLEY 2:08:14.874    

5 Mason SEMMENS KTM 2:10:15.424

Penrite 2015 Hattah Desert Race – Junior Big Wheel 150cc 13-16 years

1 Mason SEMMENS KTM SX 125 2:10:15.424

2 Jed POLOMKA KTM SX 150 2:17:29.357

3 Billy BRAY R&D Husqvarna