Desert Racing

KTM And Toby Price Ready To Defend Finke Title

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KTM Australia will bring one of its strongest ever lineups into the weekend's 40th running of Australia's most iconic off-road racing event, the 2015 Tatts Finke Desert Race.

The 480-kilometre, two-day journey from Alice Springs south to Finke and back is a unique test of rider and motorcycle - and simply the biggest, most high profile event on the Aussie dirt bike racing calendar, with approximately 600 motorcycle and 134 car competitors, as well as 15,000 spectators camping along the length of the 240 km course.

Defending Finke champion and Dakar Rally podium finisher Toby Price will lead the orange assault. The Maitland Rider has been in particularly determined form of late, and despite a pre-running mishap last week where he hit a stick at high speed with his foot, it will be difficult to find an observer prepared to write-off the three-time King of the Desert as he takes aim at last year's winning time of three hours and 56 minutes.

Last year the 2010 and 2012 champion completed one of the most spectacular comebacks in the sport‰Ûªs history when he won the 2014 event a little over a year after suffering a broken neck.

‰ÛÏShe's definitely turning into a different world out here in Alice Springs." Price commented. "Just cruising around town you're seeing heaps of bikes and buggies and trucks with the Finke build-up.

"So now it‰Ûªs time for me to get the head down and get ready for the race. It‰Ûªs going to be a hard slog with all the extra cars and extra bikes. We'll have to wait and see but hopefully we can be near the front and try a get a dust-free run and see what happens.

"I‰Ûªd dearly love to win the 40th one, it's a pretty special feeling to cross that line first out here. It would be my fourth win and it would be unreal. That's the goal, but with this race, anything can happen, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting into it.‰Û
One of Prices's biggest challenges however, may just come from KTM Off-Road Racing Squad teammate and 2014 podium finisher Ivan Long.
One of Prices's biggest challenges however, may just come from KTM Off-Road Racing Squad teammate and 2014 podium finisher Ivan Long.

The South Australian has been exposed to what it takes to be on top in the Desert for more than a year now, and enters the famous event confident, in sparkling form and well aware of what is required to succeed in the desert.

‰ÛÏThe track is getting chewed out pretty quick, so it's going to be very interesting come race day." Long said. "We did a run pretty much all the way down back, and it was interesting trying to stay out of the way of all the other riders. I came across three 4WDs on the track; so I backed off on every hill after I saw that first one, I thought, ‰Û÷this is out of control‰Ûª.

"But in the last week here we‰Ûªve been fine tuning everything and I've got a setting which suits my riding style. This year I want to be at the pointy end of the field for sure, so, we‰Ûªll get Prologue out the way, see what we have to do and see what goals we have to adjust.

"It‰Ûªs certainly going to be very tough out there but we‰Ûªve got the best suspension in the country with Stephen Greenfield working endless hours on our bikes just making sure that they are 110%.‰Û
Finke rookie Tye Simmonds - the former motocross professional is making a big splash in his first year as an off-road racer.
The dark horse among the factory team trio is undoubtedly Finke rookie Tye Simmonds - the former motocross professional making a big splash in his first year as an off-road racer.

Simmonds has completed an extensive testing and pre-running program with arguably the most experienced team out there, and Team Manager and four-time Finke winning legend Ben Grabham won't be a bit surprised if Simmonds is at the pointy end of the field come Monday afternoon.

‰ÛÏThis is my first Finke and the other times we've been here pre-running it's been pretty quiet, but right now there's just people everywhere." Simmonds explained. "Down the track, out to eat, in the servo, everywhere. It‰Ûªs a big eye-opener!

"Every second car going past has bikes on the back, it's kind of cool.

"Toby and Ivan get caught up everywhere, but I can just buzz around and no one knows me, so it's nice flying in under the radar. The track is absolutely brutal and it‰Ûªs crazy how hard you‰Ûªve got to work just to hang on to the bike.

"It‰Ûªs such a hard physical challenge and so scary that somehow that turns it all around to be fun. I know it‰Ûªs going to be a very hard weekend in the office, but I'll just go out there and give it my all and see where we‰Ûªre sitting Monday afternoon.‰Û

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