News 10 Jun 2017

High-speed Finke crash denies Simpson of factory KTM debut

KTM Desert Racing Team will field all-Territorian combination.

Source: Supplied.

Reigning E1 class Australian Off-Road Champion (AORC) Jack Simpson’s chance to line up with the factory KTM Desert Racing Team at this weekend’s Tatts Finke Desert Race was withdrawn due to a major testing incident on Monday.

After winning the 250cc four-stroke division last year, Simpson was drafted into KTM’s official squad for the 2017 edition, but crashed at over 140km/h this week and sustained a heavy concussion, two cracked ribs, a lacerated lung and disrupted vertebra.

“I’m bummed not to race, but it doesn’t make sense to risk major or long term damage,” said Simpson, who was hospitalised for two days in Alice Springs directly following the incident. “I think my crash came because I was too at ease in my mind – feeling a little bit bulletproof and, next thing, bang! The Finke track’s got you! Now I know you’ve got to be switched on 110 percent the whole time, up and back.

“We were running in the race bikes and after 110km they said you can wind them on and push them because the suspension was really tight. I was sitting on about 95 percent, trying to break this bike in and I came over a crest and must have hit a square-edge tapped out in fifth gear. She’s kicked left and right and I’ve fought it, but it must have dropped into a whoop and it sent me like a full 180 backwards and it felt like I was in the air for five seconds.

“I remember watching the sky then going ‘whack’ on the ground. I knew I was alright, but it was hard to breathe. Until the crash things had been great, I’ve done a lot of kays pre-running and every time we were at 100 percent. The KTM boys are known to work hardest out of anyone with pre-running and that’s why the orange bikes are always up the front – we bring everything to the table.”

With Simpson’s exit confirmed just one day after defending champion Toby Price confirmed he isn’t yet fit enough to ride, KTM will field Northern Territory duo David Walsh – third overall one year ago – and Luke Hayes, who lives on the track at Deep Well Station. Last year’s runner-up Tye Simmonds also recently withdrew from the event after initially being penciled in at KTM.