Daniel Sanders continues Endrocross form with Wildwood Extreme win ahead of Matt Phillips
KTM Enduro Racing Team rider Daniel Sanders and former World Enduro Champion Matthew Phillips completed a memorable KTM 1-2 at today’s gruelling running of Australia’s toughest hard enduro, the Wildwood Rock Extreme.
Completing an exciting 2015 that has included winning the E3 championship at the ISDE in Slovakia, 21-year-old Sanders took the lead on the first lap, relinquished it in the second to English visitor Ben Hemingway, then took over for good on the third, powering away to a near five-minute win over Phillips, with another former winner, Mitch Harper, third.
Phillips’ race was equally exciting in its own unique way, the Tasmanian making an eleventh hour decision to compete in the race despite being a month into his off-season, and having done little other than some plumbing around the house in recent days!
The spontaneity and lack of hard enduro preparation did little to hold back internationally experienced former Wildwood winner however, and Phillips and used his KTM 300 EXC to post the second fastest time in this morning’s Prologue before backing up with the runner-up position in the main event.
Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders – KTM 300 EXC – “It’s the hardest race in Australia, a good challenge, and somehow I had fun out there, just because of the challenge aspect. It’s not really a race, you just soldier on through it. There were some big names there so it was good to beat them, and see that my fitness was right up there. I’ll keep working on it over the off-season, it helped me to know where my weaknesses are and it will help the next year I reckon.
“I was winning it from the start, then Ben Hemingway led from the second lap, and then I passed him just before the third, so it is good to lead from there. I just had to concentrate so hard, and then the sun ended up coming out and started cooking my brain. A tough race.
“The bike was unreal, straight off the four-day Mick and Grabbo had to build it up, with all the protection, radiator braces and pipe guards disk protectors. And boy did I test the crash protection today, it went through hell today, she was upside down at times, everyone had some carnage at some point, and on the nasty hill you could be off the bike five times in 50 metres!”
Matthew Phillips – KTM 300 EXC – “We were having a bit of a relax in the shed on Friday night and decided at the last minute to come over and give it a crack. There’s been no training build up – I’ve been at home doing plumbing so I’ve been pretty busy, but Dad was keen to go and it was a good chance to go to a race with him and the crew, so got off the boat this morning and went out to the track and got straight into it.
“I started off a little bit tight and lethargic, but I started getting the hang of it and had a good day. Chucky was just strong all day, he led from start to finish and looked really good so I’m really happy seeing him win.
“My run was all right, I had a bit of trouble in the rock garden but my bike ran very well and I had a good crew with me today with family and friends so it was a good fun day.”
Former Wildwood winner Mitch Harper belied the effects of a year spent on the sidelines when he powered a stock Husqvarna TE 300 to a podium finish in arguably Australia’s most technically difficult enduro event; the 2015 Wildwood Rock Extreme Enduro.
Broc Grabham scored his second Wildwood top five in as many years when he powered another Moto GC entry – a standard Husqvarna FC 350 – into fifth place overall.
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team rider Lachy Stanford starred in the morning prologue, logging the third fastest time behind Sanders and Phillips, however the Queensland Enduro Champion struck trouble in the race itself and could only manage 11th.
AORC junior champion Fraser Higlett had his first senior hard enduro at Wildwood, and powered his new Husqvarna TE 300 to an impressive fourth in the expert class behind Jacob Stapleton, Wade Ibrahim and Jesse Kistler.
Mitch Harper (TE300): “Pretty stoked with how I went, I haven’t been riding all year because I haven’t had a bike, so to come in 2 minutes behind Phillips who has been racing the World Enduro Championships all year after three hours is good. The guys who have been racing all year, their fitness has been right up and they’ve been in the know, so I reckon with more training I could do well.
“The Husky was awesome. It was full stock, I just put a pipe guard and rear disc guard on it – the rock sections were so gnarly that even the trials riders were struggling in them – but that was about it. Suspension and engine were stock. The suspension was perfect for the rocks, real plush and wasn’t deflecting off everything so it preserved your energy a lot, and the power was smooth as, especially on the tricky rock sections. Your back wheel would be about to slide down the face of a rock, and you could put it in a high gear and torque the power and just slowly get the grip you want. Awesome. Glen from Moto GC has generously allowed me to take this bike home for a little while and I’m working on some stuff for next year so hopefully something will come off.”
Broc Grabham (FE350): “This year I just struggled a lot with lappers, at one point I was catching up to Harper, but it was that dusty I had to sit and wait for them to get off the track or stop making dust so I could actually see to get up there.
“I loved the four-stroke everywhere, it was great for a standard bike, it worked perfect, it was great for all the rocks and stuff and I still feel pretty good after the race so I mustn’t have gotten to belted.
“I’m keen to go back again next year, I don’t know why, I hate it, but I want to go back and try to improve, preferably after staying on the same bike all year so I can have a proper go at it. Each year I’ve ridden a standard bike there so it would be good to have a set up and have a real good go at it.”
Husqvarna Enduro Racing rider Lachy Stanford (TE300): “What a hard race. It is insane. I prologued third behind Chucky Sanders and Matthew Phillips this morning on the enduro cross track and I felt I was adapting to the 300 fairly well. When the race started though, I got a massive load of dust on the first half decent hill, couldn’t see my lines and ended up doing a 180 and having to go again, which cost me a lot of track position. The big hill climb was just crazy, the photos won’t do it justice but it was unbelievable. I think without that I would have gone good, but I lost a fair bit of time there on a couple of laps and had a few other little dramas. It wasn’t the best day, but I experienced it, and I had a lot of fun. A think club put on a really great event with a good atmosphere. I’d just like to say a huge thanks to Moto GC and Glenn Cantwell for supplying me a bike and to Kevvy and Dave for coming out and filling me up!”
Fraser Higlett (TE300): “Wildwood is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I am absolutely stuffed! I wasn’t really expecting it to be that hard physically. It was a good experience though and it was good to come fourth in the Expert class.
“I started off all right, then I started to peak and know the track around my third lap, and after that I started getting tired – plus my legs aren’t that long so that was a bit of a struggle trying to touch. I fell off a few times but not too many, I kept it up pretty well. That was my first enduro on the 300 and it went strong all weekend, I dropped it too much, but that wasn’t the bike’s fault. I’m pretty stoked that I finished, and next year I will probably train a bit more for it.”
2015 Wildwood Rock Extreme Extreme Challenge Results
Pro: 1 Daniel Sanders, 2 Matt Phillips, 3 Mitcham Harper, 4 Ben Hemingway, 5 Broc Grabham, 6 Robert Nowak, 7 Chris Perry, 8 Dan Hemingway, 9 Tom Scott, 10 Ruben Chadwick, 11 Lachlan Stanford
Prologue: 1 Daniel Sanders, 2 Matt Phillips, 3 Lachlan Stanford
Expert: 1 Jacob Stapleton, 2 Wade Ibrahim, 3 Jesse Kistler, 4 Fraser Higlett