News 6 Jul 2009

Off-Road: Ben Grabham wins Hattah Desert Race for KTM

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–       2009 Hattah Desert Race
–    Event date: Sunday 5 July, 2009
–    Location: Colingnan (near Mildura)
–    Format:  four hour sprint race
–       Track conditions: soft boggy sand, got rough and chopped up as the race went on


Rider     Class    Bike    Home Town    Class result    Outright
Ben Grabham    Over 450 four stroke    KTM 505 XC-F    Bathurst, NSW    1st    1st
Ben Kearney    250 four stroke    KTM 250 EXC-F   Picton, NSW    1st     8th
Brad Williscroft    Vets    KTM 505 XC-F    Helensburgh, NSW    1st    4th
Tye Simmonds    Over 450 four stroke    KTM 505 XC-F    Bourke, NSW    DNF    DNF


–       Sandy and consistent
–       Fast open flowing sections


Ben Grabham – over 450 four stroke class

“This is obviously my year after winning Finke last month to now back up another desert race with a win at Hattah,” said Grabham.  “It’s an awesome feeling.   The KTM 505 XC-F made Hattah a pretty easy ride for me, but the conditions were tough.  The KTM 505 XC-F is also what I rode in Finke, and it was the best bike I have ever entered in Hattah.

“I felt good in prologue where I placed second to local favourite Warren Smart.  It was obvious he was going to be the benchmark, with so much local track knowledge.  We banged bars consistently for the first three hours of the race, but then I found an edge, and started to make a break.

“I ended up winning ahead of Smart by one minute and 12 seconds.  It was great to have someone like him push me, and make it a real race.”

Ben Kearney – 250 four stroke class

“This year’s Hattah was one of the hardest races I have ever done,” said Kearney. “I’m stoked that I won the 250 four stroke class, and outright I was eighth.  I had a decent prologue, which got me off the line in around 12th for the main event.

“The start of the race was a massive straight giving the bigger bikes an advantage, but I set a decent pace, and chipped away at the bigger bikes as riders tired, and couldn’t handle the tighter section.

“I enjoyed some battling along the way with Caleb Auricht who was on a 450, there were times when we were side-by-side, but I think he may have crashed, or I just picked up a lot more speed because I made a pass, and didn’t see him again until the finish line, when he rode home ninth outright behind me.

“I’m exhausted now, but feel a great sense of achievement bringing home the KTM 250 EXC-F first in class, and also ahead of a heap of 450 machines.”

Tye Simmonds – over 450 four stroke class

“I honestly feel I could have brought home third outright, after an excellent start to my first Hattah race,” said Simmonds.  “I was pretty disappointed when mechanical challenges took me out of the race at the two hour mark, when I was sitting in third.    My gear box locked up, and then the bike stopped so it was all over for me, and the rider behind me was four minutes behind, so I was really going strong.  I noticed before a check point that the bike was missing, and I tried to nurse it to the check point, but didn’t get there.

“I still had a heap of fun and will definitely give Hattah a go next year.  I clipped a fair few trees hanging low in the tight sections, but I was surprised how well I rode in these sections.  I could see Grabbo (Ben Grabham) and Smart (Warren Smart) in front of me in the trees, and felt confident to close ground on them, but then once they were on the long straight stuff they took off into the distance.”

Brad Williscroft – vets class

“I got fourth in prologue, which put me up with the front runners, and then off the start I was in a battle with Peter Boyle and Tye Simmonds for a good 10-15 minutes of the first lap,” said Williscroft.

“Grabbo (Ben Grabham) Smarty (Warren Smart), and Tye started to pull away from me on the second lap, and I found myself in a three-way battle for fourth position with Jehi Willis and Peter Boyle.

“As the race continued that battle became between me, and Peter Boyle, and we had a good pace going.   Then half way through the race, I got hit with a one minute penalty for apparently not stopping at the scoring shoot, so that allowed Peter Boyle to get away, and for Jehi to pass me, as I was servicing the one minute penalty.

“I got going again, and I ended up catching Jehi, and passed him pulling a bit of a gap, but Peter Boyle had pulled another minute on me, so he was two minutes ahead, and I finished fourth 2.5 minutes behind him (Boyle).  I was pretty happy with fourth outright, and I won the Veterans class pretty easily so all in all it was a good race.

Motorex KTM Racing Team Off-Road Team Manager – Brad Williscroft

Myself, Ben Kearney, and Ben Grabham were in Mildura for the week before the race, testing and training every day,” said Williscroft.  “We ended up getting a good set up with the bikes, and everyone felt comfortable.  With Grabbo (Ben Grabham) as 2009 Finke Desert Race winner on our team, we were confident of challenging the locals like race favourite Warren Smart, who has won Hattah five times before.

“Together we worked on a plan for Grabbo to attack early, and after finishing second in prologue he started right behind Smarty (Warren Smart) for the main event.  Grabbo got out early just like we planned, and never once let Smarty out of his site.  He ended up leading six of the eight laps, and bringing home the win for Motorex KTM by over a minute, so we couldn’t be happier.

“Ben Kearney stuck it out, and won the 250 four stroke class, and improved one position from last year finishing eighth outright which was also commendable, especially on a little 250 F in the fast sandy conditions.

“We were pleased to see motocross racer Tye Simmonds come out, and try desert racing, and he showed exceptional speed in the early stages of the race.  Tye put in an awesome effort, and it was unfortunate for him that he had mechanical challenges, but he had a lot of fun in the event and by the sounds of things if the event doesn’t conflict with his 2010 motocross season, he will be back for another Hattah entry.”




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