News 24 Nov 2009

Off-Road: Disappointing debut for Team Australia in Baja 1000

Team Australia in action at the Baja 1000.

Team Australia in action at the Baja 1000.

Team Australia has had a tough initiation in the Tecatae Score Baja 1000 over the weekend, with KTM 530 XCW-mounted riders Ben Grabham and Brad Williscroft both failing to finish the race.

In an event won by JCR Honda’s Kendel Norman, Timmy Wiegand and Quin Cody, the KTM of Grabham and Williscroft expired when the solder broke on the stator purchased in the States in the lead-up to the event.

“We needed a bigger stator than the stock KTM 530 XCW stator to power the large lights required for the late night riding, but ours purchased through Ricky Stator in the USA failed when the solder broke on the wiring, stopping the bike at the 242 mile mark – ending our Baja ride with major disappointment,” explained team manager Brad Williscroft.

“From the moment we arrived in Baja everything was running really well.  We had great team support, and got in 1200 miles of pre running.  Our confidence was high, and we had a good game plan in place for chase vehicle positioning, and which sections myself and Grabbo would ride.

“Our strategy was for Grabbo to start the race.  He drew 12th position from a hat for the start, and unfortunately had to deal with a lot of riders dust.  The race got underway at 6:30am, and the air was very still with no wind, so it wasn’t until around the 70 mile mark before he could get clear air, and actually start riding hard.

“The first rider change was at the 100 mile mark, by the time Grabbo got to me the race leader had a 25 minute lead, an obvious advantage was the lack of dust they had on route.  Grabbo handed the bike to me in eighth place – he had already made up four positions.

“My stage was to get the KTM 530 XCW over a pretty big mountain face.  It was called The Summit and it had an elevation of 3500 feet above sea level.  The ride up was the rockiest section I have ever encountered in all my years of racing.   The backside of the mountain face was completely different it levelled out, and wove through old creek beds, fast flowing rocky roads, across a dry lake bed which was ten miles wide, and through big open sandy plains.

“By the next change over at 210 miles I had worked my way into fifth position, and pipped off three riders along the way.  Next up Ben took off for the 180 mile San Felipe loop which is notorious for big whoops, but when we were pre running it felt like they were nowhere near as big as the whoops at Alice Springs during the Finke Desert Race, so Grabbo was quietly confident he could dominate in this section.

“Grabbo got off to a flying start, and passed a racer early to move us into fourth position, but not long after he passed that racer the bike stopped at the 242 mark.

“By the time the chase vehicles and I got the radio message of Ben’s location it took us three hours to get to him, because he was on the race course with no access road.  We got to him with one hour left of daylight, and made a conscious decision not to risk ourselves any injury by trying to fix a problem that we had not clearly identified just to finish the race.  It’s a dangerous and risky race in terms of the ever changing terrain, so we loaded the bike on the truck and ended our race there.

“When we pulled the bike down to determine the problem, our disappointment intensified when we found it wasn’t mechanical, but rather the solder had broke on the wiring of the stator purchased through Ricky Stator in the USA.  We needed a larger stator to the standard one on the KTM 530 XCW to support the larger lights required for night riding, but this one recommended let us down.

“Both Grabbo and I are really disappointed because we honestly felt we could have secured a podium.  It was a huge effort to get over to Baja, and we want to give special thanks to our major sponsors and supporters including Brian Finn from Force Accessories, KTM USA, Steg Pegz, Chill Dynamics and Mitcham Contracting.

“Our support crew in America are also worthy of a big thanks especially Warren Lovelace from   We learnt a lot about Baja from Warren and his crew.

“We know we’re going to be asked a lot  if we will come back next year to give Baja another go, but that is undecided it will be determined by how much support we can get because it takes a massive team effort to enter Baja, and it cannot be done on a tight budget.”