KTM Desert Racing Team rider too strong in 2014 running.
KTM Desert Racing Team’s Toby Price has captured a dominant victory in the 2014 Tatts Finke Desert Race in the North Territory, maintaining his lead on Monday from Finke back to Alice Springs.
In doing so, the KTM 500 EXC rider completed one of the most spectacular comebacks in the sport’s history, having watched last year’s event in a neck brace following a broken neck suffered in April last year.
Price rode the factory-supported KTM 500 EXC to the win ahead of local hero David Walsh (Honda) and Ivan Long (KTM Desert Racing Team), who set the fastest time today with a 1h56m48s.
Price’s time to Finke was 1h58m43s and on the way back he maintained the advantage, setting a 1h57m45s for a total time of 3h56m29s. He also won the race in 2010 and 2012.
“Two minutes ahead at Finke was a lot better than two behind, but it was no guarantee,” Price said. “I went quicker in my time on the way back, but I tried not to go overboard through the whoops, and just keep it on two wheels. I could have gone quicker still, but I didn’t need to.
“The body was pretty good, my hand flew off the bars on the way down which jarred it and then I rode a little bit different so that blistered up a little, but overall fitness was pretty good. Everyone worked so hard to get this one back – Northstar Logistics, Equiprent, Smith and Broughton and Pit’n’Portal, Ben Grabham, Leisky, GDR Suspension, everybody from cooking to training, organising parts, bikes, the mechanics, they all worked really hard to make this Finke a lot easier.
“I think it’s going to be really hard to wipe the smile off my face for a while. I’ve put in the work, but I was never sure I could come back to this level after my injury, and be able to go flat out the whole way. It feels great to get that monkey off my back, and I feel like I can put the neck injury in my past and forget about it and go back to doing what I normally do.”
With masterful control Price kept a small margin in hand during today’s 240-kilometre return leg, conceding just 23 seconds of his lead and ensuring the most prestigious prize in desert racing would return to his and KTM’s respective trophy cases.
Leaving Finke third this morning, last year’s fifth place-getter Long had a mighty crack at Walsh’s second position, unleashing a 1h56m48 return leg which would turn out to be the fastest of the day. It unfortunately left him just 11 seconds shy of second, but stretched him more than three minutes clear of fourth.
Four-time Finke champion Ben Grabham battled with an ailing wrist on the return leg, finishing 11th outright and fourth in the 451cc and Above Four-Stroke class won by Price, but found on the occasion of his debut as a team manager, the outright victory to be sufficient compensation.
KTM 250 SX-F rider Wayde Carter blitzed the 250cc Four-Stroke class on debut, ahead of similarly mounted Robbie Armstead, while KTM-mounted Tayla Jones – the first female home by about 50 minutes – was an astonishing fourth in the class in 59th outright.
KTM riders dominated the Finke, winning five of the 10 classes, including the Up to 250cc Two-Stroke class won by Nathan Trigg, the 251cc and Above Two-stroke Class where Tasmanians Lincoln and Connor Bird finished first and second aboard KTM 300 EXCs, and the Quads 40 Years Plus, which went to Eddie Tattingham.
2014 Tatts Finke Desert Race
Alice Springs, NT
1. Toby Price
2. David Walsh
3. Ivan Long
4. Josh Green
5. Daymon Stokie
6. Jack Dooley-McDonnell
7. Todd Smith
8. Michael Walsh
9. Jared Ewin
10. Caleb Auricht