Two Members of Parliament are working on a concept to create certainty of tenure for the nation's top off-road race, and for other areas around the NT where bush drivers and riders can do their stuff. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Toby Price's trophy truck breaks down to end his dream of becoming the dual King of the Desert. Shannon and Ian Rentsch (pictured) snatch their sixth victory, a staggering 17 minutes ahead David Fellows. But Price easily takes out the bikes race. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The Tatts Finke Desert Race 2015 will have 110 places in the car section and 600 places in the bike section, writes Antony Yoffa, President. PHOTO: Last year's winners, Victorians Ian and Shannon Rentsch.
When Victorians Ian and Shannon Rentsch (pictured) blasted home to win the Tattersalls Finke Desert Race this morning, they got a well-deserved thumbs up. But the other half of the story is the sensational effort by hundreds of local volunteers, performing tasks ranging from cleaning dunnies to operating the Finke website, year after year, without pay. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The Finke, that grand fest of competitiveness, local can-do, fun and mateship is over again for a year, a boost not only to the town's self-esteem – at times short in supply – but also its coffers.
VIDEO: Hayden Bentley from South Australia limped home with a sick engine but still became the outright winner of the cars and buggy section of the 2013 Tatts Finke Desert Race.
The solo driver's time over the 226 km day two section was 01:52:49, a minute and 10 seconds ahead of Victorians Shannon and Ian Rentsch.
Mark Burrows and Colin Hodge, from NSW, were in third place in 01:56:27.
The first locals across the line were Andrew Moles and Matthew Ryan, in 9th place, coming second in the Prolite class in 02:00:48. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Sarah Fitzgerald, 21, (left) from Mildura, Victoria, wants to win in next year's Tatts Finke Desert Race, one way or another: She will apply to be a grid girl, and if that doesn't work, she'll straddle her new 125cc pit bike – her first – and give the boys a run for their money.
Another early hopeful to join the glamor girls, sponsored by Inland Electrical, is born and bred local, Jade Hatt, who says she can’t wait to apply when entries open on November 1, "continuing her journey of growing up with the race".
“Our race is a national event open to anyone and everyone wishing to compete," says race committee member, Claire Ryan. "The same applies with our volunteers and Grid Girls.”
"Where is the dunny?"
This was the first question asked by Chinese Rally Champion Xiao Fa Guo when he arrived in Finke.
He had to use sign language because he doesn't speak a word of English. He thought the Finke Desert Race would have a toilet stop half-way.
Alice Mayor Damien Ryan later explained, through an interpreter no doubt, that the local custom out bush is to have a dingo's breakfast: a pee and a good look around.
A swag and billy tea were subsequent local discoveries for the driving champion.
Anyway, that's how Alice photographer and businessman Steve Strike tells the story.
Mr Strike has an office in Guangzhou, southern China, and it was his brainchild to invite Mr Xiao and navigator Xie Jin Lin, plus a crew of around 15, to the Finke.
Their performance in the tough race was nothing short of outstanding: driving a 6 litre Chev V8 truck after just 20 minutes of practice they came 29th outright and third in their class.
The vehicle was borrowed from Top End pollie Ross Bohlin, MLA for Drysdale.
Mr Xiao announced he wanted buy a top-of-the-line buggy and was told they go for around $450,000.
"No worries," replied Mr Xiao – or whatever the Chinese equivalent is.
While the visitors finished mid-field, The Centre had a great victory: a TV crew for a Guangzhou sports channel with an audience of 100 million is tagging along, says Mr Strike, shooting not just the race but the competitors' visits to the full gamut of local attractions – including the Reptile Centre, Flying Doctor, hot air ballooning and the School of the Air in town, and Glen Helen, Palm Valley, Hermannsburg and Ayers Rock Resort further afield. Photos STEVE STRIKE. L- R Navigator 46 yr old Xie Jin Lin and 52 yr old Driver Xiao Fa Guo from Gaungzhou in Southern China. It was their first attempt at an international race and said they will be back next year with more experience.