Lining up for scrutineering this afternoon: Entrants from Gol Gol in southern NSW with a six litre GET Performance buggy.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Race director Antony Yoffa says streaming of the Tatts Finke Desert Race on the internet has commanded an audience of “tremendous” numbers – around half a million visits over the four days last year, in 50-plus countries.
“A big crowd in the United States, big crowd in Europe.
“Toby Price has an enormous northern hemisphere and American following – even though he hasn’t won the car section.”
Mr Yoffa says the online audience has been growing every year, which augurs well for the 45th Finke starting today with scrutineering under way now.
Price won the bikes for the sixth time last year, but his trophy truck had a mechanical failure, ending his bid to win both races. Will he make it this year?
“Well there’s a lot of people riding on that,” says Mr Yoffa.
“This would really make him quite a remarkable sportsman if he could pull off both.”
Meanwhile Dean Neal, from Airtime Media, will be providing television material for Channel 10, the host broadcaster, plus other media.
“There will be coverage, nationally and regionally, through the Channnel 10 network,” he says.
“There will be a one and a half hour show in late July.
“Then early in August there will be a Fox Sports extended show, closer to two hours, and that will be also be national.
“There will be some international distribution of the show, to North America particularly, and probably to Asia as well, through third party distribution groups and agencies.”
Mr Neal says in Australia there will be hundreds of thousands of viewers, and hundreds of thousands of social media engagements, through storylines and interest pieces.
“There will be regular news coverage through Channel 10 throughout the weekend.
“RPM, Channel 10’s motorsport magazine show, will be doing updates before, during and after the event.
“Foxsports News will be doing on-the-day updates. Quite a significant coverage.”
And that’s of course on top of the output from 30-odd other journalists attending the media briefing this afternoon.
Some of them are from overseas, including K. Dai, from Japan, filing for 4×4 Magazine on YouTube and the web with 44,000 viewers. It’s his second Finke.
There will be entries from about 620 bikes and 140 cars.
Hundreds of volunteers are the backbone for this event, including (from left) Marilyn and Warwick Barrett, in their 12th year of service to the great event, during registration of media personnel this afternoon. They are with fellow volunteer Chris Fridd (four years on the job) and media managers from Adelaide, Betty Heaslip and Samantha McLaughlin.
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UPDATE June 8:
Volunteer Darren White (pictured) was honoured with the Finke Hero award last night, according a media release from the Tatts Finke Desert Race Club.
An Alice Springs local, Mr White has served as a volunteer at the event for the past eight years and also competed in the event himself in the bike category.
Mr White has been responsible for managing the fuel for the four club fuel stops at the event, including the fuel stop at Mt Squires checkpoint where White cooks for the volunteers, supports the St John recovery team and scoring crew and assists with transponder checks.
Club president Antony Yoffa presented the award at the scrutineering, saying Mr White was a deserving recipient of the event’s highest honour.
“There are more than 300 volunteers assisting across a range of roles.
Mr White also delivers the fuel drums to all fuel stops along the 226 kilometre track in the week leading up to the race.
He has also been instrumental in the development and implementation of the traffic management plan for the 2019 event.
This is the 15th year of the Finke Hero Award, and 2019 is the 20th year of Tatts’s naming-rights partnership of the race.
UPDATE June 8, 5.14pm
Toby Price is not racing in bikes “as he nurses his wrist back from injury sustained during his win of the Dakar Rally earlier this year,” says the Finke Club. But he has recorded the fastest time for cars in today’s prologue.