Alice Springs rider Daymon Stokie was today crowned ‘King of the Desert’, winning the 2017 Finke Desert Race. Stokie won the two day grueling affair with a time of 4 hours 11 minutes 12.5 seconds on his Yamaha WR500F, marking the manufacturer’s first Finke win since 1986.
The event started well for Stokie, a resident of Alice Springs, when he posted the second best time in the prologue giving a great starting position for the trek down to Finke on day one. Despite carrying a hand injury from a previous endurance event, Stokie gritted his teeth and manned up in the countries toughest race.
“It’s been an unbelievable couple of days. The lead up to the event has been tough on the team with Beau Ralston hurting himself and then Josh Green having to pull out yesterday so it was a huge relief to get the win and reward the team for a massive effort. I knew catching David was a tough ask but sometimes things go your way and we got a little lucky with that but that’s the way it goes at Finke, it just isn’t an easy race to win. A huge thank you to everyone at Yamaha and the Active8 Yamaha team for their support and belief in my this year. I was bought in for events like this so it is an awesome feeling to do exactly as we set out to do. The WR500F was perfect from start to finish and the team did a great job with testing and the bike. Also, thank you to my friends and family who continue to support me each and every year and it’s great to have them all here with me on such a successful weekend.”
The battle for second was a nail-biting affair between South Australian Ivan Long (#X99 Husqvarna FE450) and Alice Springs competitor Luke Hayes (#6 KTM EXC500). Long had finished fifth on the road at the overnight stop at Finke after blowing a tyre yesterday, but rode brilliantly today to make the podium.
Long’s total race time 4 hours 15 minutes 7 seconds, with Hayes completing the 452 kilometre race distance in a time of 4 hours 15 minutes 38.1 seconds. The change in position between the second and third podium riders took place between the Deep Well checkpoint and the Alice Springs finish.
The hard luck story of the bike field belonged to Alice Springs rider David Walsh (#3 KT EXC500) who held a 5 minute 45.1 second lead over eventual winner Stokie at the overnight stop. Sadly Walsh’s race was over barely after it started with mechanical problems occurring just 10 kilometres from the Finke start.
The news wasn’t as good for Stokie’s team mate, Josh Green, who had to withdraw from the event during the final stages of day one. Green started the event exceptionally well and had moved into a podium position when he had a mechanical issue that forced him out of the race.
“It can be an emotionally challenging race here at Finke as it requires so much effort to be able to compete at this level, on this sort of terrain so to not be able to finish is heartbreaking for myself and the team. The Active8 Yamaha team put in so much effort for this race so we are all naturally disappointed not to get the result we both wanted or expected. But it’s awesome that Daymon was able to fly the team flag and get the job done for us. Congratulations to him and he deserved this win as it has been a long time coming for him.”
Not only did Yamaha claim the top spot in the motorcycle division with Daymon Stokie winning the prestigious off road event, Yamaha also did exceptionally well in other racing categories contested over the weekend in a strong showing for Yamaha racing in the great Australian outback.
Yamaha and the YXZ1000R dominated the Under 1200cc UTV division taking the top five positions in a complete sweep of the class, while it was an all blue podium in the ATV section with Yamaha mounted riders taking the top three positions.
The Yamaha Motor Australia/ WPS team of Jake and Aiden Williams took the race win after an eventful two days out in the Northern Territory wilderness.
“That was insane, I knew we had a big gap to make up and we just went for it thinking we had nothing to lose. We started passing a couple of people and then we hit the lead and we are just pumped to bring it home. The YXZ1000R was unreal to drive and we gave it heaps over the past couple of days. Thank you to everyone in the Yamaha Motor Australia/ WPS team, my brother Aiden and all our friends and family that came out to support us. We have had an awesome time.”
The ATV division shared a similar dominance and this time, the dominance was shared between the Yamaha YFZ450R and the Van Vliet Brothers in a top podium sweep.
Mitchell Van Vliet took the race win and led from start to finish. He cleared out to a comfortable gap on the run down to Finke and then continued to pile on the pressure on the return run to take the victory, seven minutes clear of his brother, Jake.
2017 Finke Desert Race Results – Motorcycles Top 20
Stokie, Daymon – Araluen, NT – Yamaha Wr500f 04:11:12.5
Long, Ivan – Murray Bridge, SA – Husqvarna Fe450 +00:03:54.5
Hayes, Luke – Alice Springs, NT – KTM Exc500 +00:00:31.1
Collins, Kent – Mount Gambier, SA – KTM Exc +00:08:23.9
Davie, SAm – Echuca, Vic – Husqvarna Fe 501 +00:02:57.7
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