By ERWIN CHLANDA
Alice Springs rider David Walsh (pictured), on a KTM EXC 500, has just finished first on Day One of the Tatts Finke Desert Race ahead of a record field of more than 500 bikes.
Daymon Stokie came second, five minutes behind, and Luke Hayes, another local, came third.
Walsh is the highest winner in 2016 – third – of those who came back to contest the race this year’s event.
The winner last year, Toby Price, is nursing an injury but is competing on four wheels.
Three 3500cc Nissan powered Jimco buggies shone in this morning’s four-wheeled heat: West Australian Travis Robinson and Trent Anthony.
They were first away and were never challenged for the 226 kilometre journey completed in 1 hour 48 minutes and 44.6 seconds.
Second into Finke was the son and father team of Shannon and Ian Rentsch with a time of 1 hour 51 minutes 58.4 seconds.
Movers in today’s field included Beau Robinson/Shane Hutt (Geiser Bros Trophy Truck Chev 6000cc) who came in third with a time of 1 hour 54minutes 15.7 seconds ahead of Jack Rhodes/David Pullino, also in a Jimco, who were fourth in 1 hour 54 minutes 47.4 seconds.
Price with Luke Henry in the navigator’s seat, in a Geiser, also moved up from their prologue position of seventh to finish at Finke today in fifth position with a time of 1 hour 56 minutes 16.5 seconds.
Greg Gartner/Jamie Jennings (Ford F150 5900cc) who prologued in fifth position lost a large amount of time between the Bundooma and Mount Squires checkpoints and eventually came into Finke with a time of 2 hours 41 minutes 14.8 seconds well down the finishing list.
American competitor Harley Letner with Luke Ayers (Tatum 2005 Chev 6000cc) in his first Finke event finished in 13th position with a time of 2 hours 17 minutes and 47.3 seconds.
A notable non finisher today was five time Tatts Finke Desert Race winner Mark Burrows and Colin Hodge (Jimco 2012 Holden) who was reported to have hit a tree only 10 kilometres from Alice Springs in his 21st start of the event.
Last year’s winner Glenn Owen and Mathew Ryan (#30 Jimco Aussie Special Holden) were also non-finishers.
After camping overnight the car and buggy field will leave Finke tomorrow at 7.15am for the run back to the Alice Springs finish with the first cars expected to arrive at about 9.05am.
PHOTO of Walsh courtesy NT Event Photography.
Three locals lead huge national bike field into Finke
By ERWIN CHLANDA