KTM readying six pronged assault on Finke Desert Race

Ben GrabhamKTM Australia is stepping up its commitment to desert racing, with a six rider team confirmed to enter the 2009 Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race from 5-8 June.

The team line up is a collaboration between motorcycling manufacturer KTM, and loyal partners HSE Group, Motorex Oils, and KTM dealership Race Motorcycles.

Entered in the bike division on board the KTM 505 XC-F is reigning Finke Desert Race title holder Ben Grabham, plus Brad Williscroft who finished third last year. The NSW duo will also be joined by local Alice Springs riders David Walsh and Jarrod Ewin, along with Craig Carmichael from Townsville QLD.

In the ATV division, KTM is entering reigning WA State ATV Champion, Chris Brenton on board the KTM ATV 505 SX, Brenton is also currently leading the Tri State ATV Series.

Up to 500 bike entries are confirmed for the 2009 Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race, with all riders eager to snap up the $10,000 on the line for first place.

Competitors will undergo bike scrutineering in Alice Springs on Friday 5 June, followed by a prologue on 6 June over an 8.3km course, to determine the fastest times for the best start.

Racing gets underway on 7 June with the ten fastest bikes in rows of two setting off at one minute intervals. The remainder of the field starts in rows of up to ten bikes at one minute intervals.

There is a time limit of four hours to complete the first 230km leg of the course between Alice Springs and Finke. If competitors don’t make it down to Finke with a four hour time limit they’re out of the race. The race camps in Finke, and continues for the return journey to Alice Springs on 8 June.

The terrain between Alice Springs and Finke extends to the historic Gahn Railway Line in the Northern Territory, whilst winding through the typical outback terrain of red dirt, sands, spinifex, and desert oaks.

For reigning title holder Ben Grabham, this year’s Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race will be his fifth entry into the annual event, and his aim is to secure his third consecutive outright win in the bike division.

Commenting on his entry, Ben Grabham said, “This is my first entry with KTM into the Finke Desert Race, and I’m feeling very solid with my preparation, and confident of success. I have been spending a lot of time in Alice Springs testing suspension and bike set up with the team, and I feel very comfortable on the KTM 505 XC-F.

“What’s most important for me is setting a good time in prologue to get out early and ride my own race. For me it’s all about racing the clock, and improving on my times.”

Team mate Brad Williscroft is entering Finke for the eighth time, and since his first entry Williscroft has placed third three times, with his best result being second.

“We’re very well prepared for this year’s Finke,” said Brad Williscroft. “I feel I have the right set up on the bike and we have a great team behind us, giving us both extra confidence in the support we will receive, and that’s really important because it helps us focus one hundred percent on our racing.

“There are a lot of fast riders confirmed to enter Finke and it’s a tough event. There always seems to be some state rivalry to keep the win on home soil, and I want to avoid that hype because just like Ben Grabham, I want to race the clock and bring home the best results possible for myself and KTM.”

Promoters confirm Finke is now one of the biggest annual sporting events in the country, and it’s recognised as the richest off-road race in the Southern Hemisphere, with the added reputation of being one of the most difficult courses in one of the most remote places in the world.

For three days, it is estimated that more than 12,000 people camp beside the race track, sleeping under the stars in their tents and swags.