David Walsh started the race in fourth and blitzed to the top of the timesheet, completing the first leg of the 2023 Tatts Finke Desert Race in 1 hour, 46 minutes and 25.8 seconds as he hunts down his fourth in a row King of the Desert crown.
Adrift of his 2022 Race Day 1 time by approximately 15 seconds, the hometown hero and three-time King of the Desert gapped the field by just over two minutes, recording an average speed of 127 kilometres per hour on the 226 kilometre journey.
“Pretty stoked with my ride,” said Walsh at the end of Race Day 1.
“Jacob [Smith] and I had a little battle there before the fuels and then I had a bit of clean air and sort of settled in and hit the lines that I knew and not do anything too stupid.”
Walsh’s ride was his second journey to Aputula today, having travelled to the Finke checkpoint during the Car race earlier this morning as navigator for Brent Smoothy in the Extreme 4WD class. The pair finished 6th in the Car’s Race Day 1.
“It honestly filled in the morning!” he said of his assault in the Car race today.
“Otherwise you’re standing around waiting to get on your bike all day and the nerves kick in too much, so it actually helped me I think.”
After a collision at the start of the race with Method Race Wheels Prologue winner Jacob Smith, Callum Norton recovered to cross the line in second, while Smith fell down the order to finish fifth.
“I Had a crash at the start and unfortunately I just misjudged the line with Jacob [Smith], and unfortunately we came together,” said Norton.
“But my fault, not his, he was on his line and I just misjudged it and went down, so that was a bit of a bummer start.
“I just had to pick myself up and charge on. Walshy got me around the buggy club there about 40 kilometres in and then just put my head down… managed to get around Jake around the 150 [kilometre mark] and yeah,just ticked away to here and come in second.”
Ivan Long completed the Race Day 1 top three, while Liam Walsh was on the fringe of the podium in fourth.
The Bike category at the 2023 Tatts Finke Desert Race will resume tomorrow when the lights go out for Race Day 2 at 12.00pm (ACST). The first bike is due to arrive in Alice Springs at approximately 1.45pm, where the 2023 King of the Desert will be crowned.