After the recent bout of rough weather events and dusty venues one could not be well enough prepared for the sublime surface that presented itself on arrival at the Coonalpyn track in South Australia over the weekend.
An abundance of pearlescent white beach sand mixed in with canola crops and some tight mallee scrub made for an amazing location that was universally enjoyed.
The Gawler Motorcycle Club had obviously put a lot of time and effort into this event and it was evident from the moment you drove onto the property. As far as racing spectacles were to go, there was only one real point of contention with the E1 class having the most potential for upset winners.
Both E2 and E3 were expected to run according to script as they had done all year. With the track marked out and riders primed for what was to be some epic riding the only thing holding everybody back was the starter’s gun.
Saturday quickly evolved into a game of who could bury their bike the deepest in successive corners. The sand was fluffy and deep. It was reminiscent of a day at the Stockton Beach dunes. Don’t get me wrong, there was a little bit of rock and mallee scrub thrown in for good measure out the back but none of the spectators could see this so it didn’t matter.
In what was some of the most spectacular racing we’ve seen all year, there was sand being thrown far and wide, left and right. At the end of Round 8 the usual suspects had forged their way to the front in clinical displays of riding deep sand.
Husqvarna Offroad rider Daniel “Chucky” Sanders had walked away with the E3 points while KTM Offroad order Daniel Milner showed why he’s the man to beat in E2.
Threesix Motorsports Yamaha rider Luke Styke edged out KTM Offroad’s Lyndon Snodgrass for the E1 prize. In the women, Jess Gardiner pushed her way to the front beating Emma Milesevic and Yamaha compatriot Emelie Karlsson.
Sunday saw the tracks rotated giving the Vets, Masters, Womens and Clubman classes a look at the thoroughly flogged track ridden on Saturday by the pro classes. To say the whoops were large was a monumental understatement.
In scenes reminiscent of past Hattah Desert races there were whoops out there large enough to swallow bike and rider. The pros shifted to what was previously the Junior track that in one place contained a section of primo sand motocross track. This drew the crowd.
With the tops of the dunes overlooking the marvel of modern earthworks covered in spectators, the pro classes went to war once again.
It soon became obvious that you could put your house on who was going to take out E3 and with the absence of Husqvarna mounted Beau Ralston – who had been sidelined late in the week after a training injury, Daniel Sanders had a real chance to wrap up the E3 championship at the end of the day.
He just needed to finish safely and glory would be his. As the Husqvarna crew held their breath in the pits, Sanders beat the Coonalpyn track into submission to claim the Round 9 and 2019 E3 championship honours in destructive fashion some six minutes clear of his nearest rival.
Daniel Milner was again victorious in E2 leading home Yamaha’s Josh Green by around 3 minutes. He will still need to fight to the end if he is to claim the E2 crown.
As far as E1 goes the final decision will be less clear with a number of different class winners throughout the season however Threesix Yamaha’s Luke Styke looks a strong contender if KTM’s Lyndon Snodgrass or Husqvarna’s Fraser Higlett can’t keep him honest in the final rounds.
Rounds 10 and 11 will take place on 14-15th September at Hedley in Victoria. The deep black dust and sand that makes up the majority of this track is always a good test of man and machine and at this time of year the weather can be capable of just about anything.
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