SIMMONDS AND SANDERS JOIN PRICE AND LONG ON NEW-LOOK KTM OFF-ROAD TEAM
KTM Australia has announced an exciting 2015 off-road racing squad which it hopes will again be the orange juggernaut for the others to chase, with the amalgamation of its enduro and desert racing teams into a single squad, and the signing of two new recruits to help tackle its packed and varied calendar.
The 2015 KTM Off-Road Racing Team will see champion off-road racer Toby Price return alongside South Australian desert racing hotshot Ivan Long, with new team members Victorian Daniel “Chucky” Sanders and former top-level pro motocrosser Tye Simmonds.
The team, managed by decorated racer Ben Grabham, will see Price, Simmonds, and Sanders target all enduro and off-road majors, with Price, Simmonds and Long forming the brand’s three-pronged desert racing arm.
Twenty-year-old Victorian Daniel “Chucky” Sanders has been elevated to the factory team on the back of a stellar 2014 in which, as a KTM-mounted privateer, he went almost undefeated in the U19 classification of the Australian Off-Road Championship on his way to 6th outright. He also won the Victorian ORC outright, and helped the Aussie Junior team onto the podium in his ISDE debut.
Former top-level pro motocrosser Tye Simmonds is the other exciting new member, with his passion for motorcycle racing now restored after a burnout-induced halt to his motocross career more than a year ago.
While he might be technically an enduro racing rookie, the 22-year-old from Bourke can drop into virtually any dirt riding format and excel, and KTM Enduro Racing Team Manager Ben Grabham has every faith in Simmonds’ ability to make his transition to AORC a highly notable one.
Aussie off-road racing maestro Toby Price has re-signed with the team after a barn-storming 2014 season which included Finke, Hattah and AORC championship wins, a top-eight finish in a round of the World Rally Championship in Morocco, and a stonking ISDE performance in which he dominated the E3 category and went within 45 seconds of winning the world’s biggest enduro event overall!
Even more impressive was the fact that this winning spree kicked off just over a year after a seemingly career-ending broken neck, but Price has certainly proved beyond all reasonable doubt that that recovery is more than complete.
Fellow incumbent Long soared with the backing of the factory this year and looks certain to only improve in 2015.
The new-look KTM off-road racing team will have its official competition debut at the first round of next year’s Enduro-X series at Brisbane’s Archerfield speedway on Saturday, February 7.
Toby Price – “It’s always a good feeling being back. I love being with the KTM brand, and all the guys that we’ve got here in Australia are a great bunch of people. It feels like a family so it’s good to have this locked away and we’re just looking forward to the 12 months ahead and seeing where the future takes us.
“It’s cool to have Chucky and Tye on board as teammates, I think we’ll get Chucky up to speed and putting some pressure on everyone from what Tye’s showing at the moment he won’t take too long to be a front runner I think. We’ve still got a few decisions to make with who’s riding what but all the KTM range is great so it’s going to be fine either way.”
Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders – “It’s exciting to be on a team, I’m stoked with that and I can’t wait to start. My teammates are a bit of a funny bunch to be around. I’m sort of the new guy and the youngest so they’re always picking on me – it’s a bit of fun and games with those two, you can’t leave your phone unlocked or else you’re in trouble. We do knuckle down as well though and we put some good lap times in Enduro-X testing. Ben is a great guy who really knows what he’s doing. He’s won a few championships, and he knows how to get a bike going. He’s always got a good idea what our setup should be.”
Tye Simmonds – “It’s something completely different for me, obviously I’ve raced motocross and supercross all my life. The only thing I’ve done with these guys has been Hattah, so it’s completely new, and I’m really stoked that Grabbo has given me a chance to have a go. It’s all escalated pretty quickly, and before I knew it we were down in Melbourne to race at the Expo, and I’d signed the contract. I’ve always known Grabbo, he was the King of the Desert, and we hung out a lot together when I was on KTMs in 08 and 09. He’s a top bloke and definitely a good role model. I think the KTM Off-Road Team is the best team in the off-road and desert scene, and the bikes are unreal – I think they are the best out there, both stock out of the box and with what they can do with a little testing.”
Ivan Long – “I’m pretty stoked to be on the race team again. I knew that it was going to be a learning stage this year and I’ve worked pretty hard. Obviously you are definitely pushing the boundaries to keep up with someone like Pricey in the Tri-Series, but I learned lots of little things to work on so we’ll see what happens next year. I think Tye’s already showing some good speed off-road and in enduro-X, so he’s definitely going to be one to beat. Hopefully the team can get along as good as what we did this year, and the results will come with it. Stoked to work under Grabbo again, he organised everything this year, from accommodation right down to the food needed to eat. In the tri-series we were out in the middle of the desert, and Toby and I just rolled up like rock stars and off we went.”
Ben Grabham (Team Manager) – “We’ve got an amazing group of riders this year and during our recent enduro-X testing all of the boys were looking great. Obviously we know what Toby’s capable of, so it’s great to be able to secure him in again. Sanders I’ve kept my eye on and he’s just getting stronger and stronger, and he’s a real character who doesn’t just blend into the crowd. With the desert side of things it looks like it will just be Finke and Hattah because the Tri-Series at this stage is not happening, so after all Toby’s wins last year we’ll try to continue on there, but we’ve also got Ivan Long who went from strength to strength this year and looks like he’s going to continue to move up. Tye is going to do the desert races with us as well, and with a similar motocross and desert background to Toby and his size, I think he’ll be fast. It will take him a little bit to learn the ropes but he is definitely going to be pushing towards the front.”
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