Alice Spring’s own David Walsh (#2 KTM) is one step closer to his first King of the Desert title after blitzing the bike field to arrive at Finke in 1 hour 55 minutes and 25.7 seconds on Race Day 1 of the 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race. The hometown hero lead the 612-strong field from the start line as he aims to take the elusive top step of the podium, having finished second in 2018, 2014 and 2012.
Walsh was just over 5-minutes clear of next-best Jacob Smith (#299 Husqvarna FE), who moved up two places from a Prologued position of 4th. In his eleventh Finke campaign, Smith (Condobolin, NSW) sits 5 minutes and 0.7 seconds behind Walsh as he looks for his first podium finish at the event in six years.
Beau Ralston (#295 Husqvarna FE) was just behind his teammate, setting a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 33.9 seconds on the rough and dusty track.
In his second Finke campaign, Geelong’s Callum Norton (#X98 KTM 450) was one of five Victorians to finish in the top ten, coming in fourth ahead of tomorrow’s return leg to Alice Springs. The eighteen-year-old race favourite is only 8 minutes and 37.5 seconds behind the race leader, an impressive effort with many other race favourites not making it to the Finke checkpoint on Day 1.
Fellow Victorian’s Jack Simpson (Seaford – #296 Honda CRF) and Sam Davie (Echuca – #292 Husqvarna FE) were fifth and sixth reaching the end of Day 1 with times of 2 hours 5 minutes and 46.1 seconds, and 2 hours 6 minutes and 10.5 seconds respectively. In seventh place and the first of the South Australian’s to cross the line was Mt Gambier’s Kent Collins (#4 KTM 500), 14 minutes and 35.1 seconds behind the leader. In their first Finke campaigns Thomas Jones (#681 KTM 500) and Nicholas Waters (#282 KTM 500) rounded out the top ten in what was a difficult day for all riders competing in Australia’s toughest off-road race.
Amongst the quads, #994 Cooper Van Vliet led the way in Class 9, while Y75, Craig Spiers had taken charge of the Class 10 (Over 40 Years) division.