Talented duo to spearhead KTM's efforts in 2019 Finke Desert Race.
It’s been revealed a new-look North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team will field David Walsh and Callum Norton in the 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race, due to be held on 7-10 June in the Northern Territory.
After finishing second last year as part of an all-KTM podium behind six-time winner Toby Price, Alice Springs local Walsh will spearhead the Austrian manufacturer’s official squad aboard the KTM 500 EXC-F in this year’s edition. He’s a proven consistent podium threat who will be in the frame to challenge for a first Finke victory in 2019.
“It’s great to be back with the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team for 2019 and to be riding the KTM 500 EXC-F once again,” Walsh commented. “The bike’s results over the years speak for themselves, it’s such a good thing to ride and the entire team works around the clock to ensure we’re competing at 100 percent.
“I already can’t wait for the event and to see if we can go one better than last year! Pre-running has been a success again in the lead-up to Finke 2019, it’s quite a lot of preparation and obviously a real benefit for us.”
As for Norton, 18, the talented Victorian joins the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team in what will be his second attempt at the Finke Desert Race. He will be equipped with a KTM 450 EXC-F as he primarily targets class honours in the 251-450cc four-stroke division. Norton will also contest the prestigious Hattah Desert Race on 5-7 July.
“I’m really stoked to have this opportunity with the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team,” said Norton. “I really enjoy desert racing and it’s a great achievement for me to be joining KTM Australia’s factory team. To be teammates with David Walsh is unreal, he is a guy who I have looked up to for a long time now and I’m already learning a lot from him.
“We have been pre-running the Finke track with lots of kilometres down and back and I am really comfortable on the KTM 450 EXC-F, so I just can’t wait to get to the race weekend. It’s been a great experience already working with Glenn and everybody from KTM – everything that I expected and more so far!
“I’m also excited about Hattah later in the year as well, it’s one of my favourite events and definitely a major race for me on the calendar alongside Finke.”
KTM Australia motorsport manager Glenn Kearney added: “We’re excited to be entering the Finke Desert Race again to defend KTM’s title up there. The North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team will have David Walsh on the race-proven KTM 500 EXC-F, plus we have brought on Callum Norton on the KTM 450 EXC-F to cover two categories in 2019.
“Walsh is obviously very competitive in the desert and has achieved multiple podiums in the Finke event, while Norton has shown great potential in the desert and he’ll be able to ride under the guidance of David.
“After such a successful event last year in which KTM went 1-2-3 on the overall podium, we will be doing all we can with our team partners to deliver a strong result again over the long weekend in June.”
The high-profile Finke Desert Race is recognised as one of the most important desert races globally, an event that sees entrants contest an decisive qualifying prologue and then navigate the gruelling 480-kilometre distance between Alice Springs and Finke in what is an intense high-speed test of both rider and machine.