Sunday Territorian 12 Jun 2016
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
62 SPORT SUNDAY JUNE 12 2016 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 ALICE Springs-born Jack Rhodes, with co-driver David Pullino, have set the pace for the 2016 Tatts Finke Desert Race and will head the field on the southward track today. Their Jimco Aussie Special Nissan 3500cc set the fastest time in the prologue yesterday. It is the third time that Rhodes, who said before the event that he had learnt from previous experiences and was more relaxed now, has been fastest around the 8.3km prologue track. FALCON driver Chaz Mostert has a message for fans of the blue oval were coming north and all intentions are good. The 24-year-old Victorian (pictured) won a race in Darwin last year and has grabbed pole positions in Perth and Winton to be 12th in the championship coming into the Hidden Valley round. Forever associated with that horrific crash at horrific crash at Bathurst eight months ago that left him with a broken leg and a broken wrist that ended his season, the 2014 Bathurst champion with Terri where Ive been able to do my job perfectly fine, he added. I still struggle with a bit of tightness in my knee when Im walking in some of the colder places, where sometimes a bit of a limp comes out. But its all getting better and each weeks a bit different. Its all better and Im looking Mostert insists Falcon set to soar in Top End torian Paul Morris is up and running again. We seem to have our qualifying pace back again, leaving us with a couple of errors here and there to fix after weve been hurt with race finishes, Mostert said. That in turn has cost us points in the championship race so theres some adjusting to do. Were just trying to piece the whole weekend in Darwin together at the moment and hopefully we can get up there and grab some success before a good run home. Hidden Valley is no stranger to Mostert after cutting his teeth on Formula Fords in his first trip north in 2009. Look, I love the atmosphere up there where you guys dont get to see us in person all year round and embrace us pretty well, he said. And were going up there with the temperature up as well, warming us up compared to some of the cold places we go to. Mostert said the October, 2015 crash at Bathurst was becoming a distant memory. Its all good, Ive been feeling 100 per cent in the car forward to tackling the endurance season, which I guess will knock it around. Mostert said his Falcon was purring and getting stronger as the series headed north to Darwin and Townsville. We had a strong package last year and again in 2016, he said. So for me its taken a bit of time to get back feeling the car in the right way and getting the setup suited for me. The early rounds have got me on the right track and now thats happened youre starting to see us up the front end of qualifying which is where we want to be. GREY MORRIS Price on track to equal win record TOBY Price from Aberglasslyn in NSW has made the perfect start in his attempt to equal the most wins by a bike rider in the Tatts Finke Desert Race. Already a four-time Finke winner (2015, 2014, 2012, 2010), Price qualified fastest yesterday on his KTM 500 EXC with a time of 4 minutes and 58 seconds. His lap of the 8.3km prologue track was eight seconds quicker than Alice Springs rider Daymon Stokie, who will be next to him on the start line, on the #X99 Honda CRF 450R. Hondas featured well in the top 10 with Jacob Smith third, Todd Smith eighth and Stokies and Desert Edge Racing Team teammate Caleb Aurecht in 10th place, There are also five KTMs in the top 10 with 2015 runnerup Tye Simmonds fourth, Alice Springs rider David Walsh fifth, Ivan Long sixth and Nathan Trigg ninth. Price, who is also the reigning Dakar bike champion, hopes to equal the record five wins achieved in the Finke Desert Race by Randall Gregory, who took the chequered flag from 1991 to 1995. Adding to the degree of difficulty for Price is the fact that he is attempting the iron man double by contesting both bike and car divisions in this years race. Only one competitor, Billy Geddes, has completed the double before but he did not win either crown. The bike race begins at 11.30am today with the final bike leaving the start/finish line at 12.18pm. There are 384 riders still racing in the event. They include six-time female Australian motocross champion Meghan Rutledge in 30th place at her first attempt in the classic Centralian desert race and 16-yearold Jordan Rose Dray, who is the youngest female to compete in the race. Rhodes sets the pace in Finke prologue He won prologue in 2015 (again with David Pullino) and in 2012 with navigator Craig Mattingly. The time set by Rhodes/ Pullino this year was 5 minutes and 12 seconds as compared to a time of 5 minutes 3 seconds in 2015. He is joined in the top 10 by another former Centralian, Matthew Kittle, with co-driver Jordan Johannsen, who were only 12 seconds behind Rhodes but there are seven drivers between the two on the start line this morning. They include reigning King of the Desert son-and-father duo of Shannon and Ian Rentsch, Beau Robinson, fivetime champion Mark Burrows and 2011 winner Greg Gartner. It was a good drive by Kittle, who was sitting in the vehicle at the head of the queue waiting for the all clear for 64 minutes after the accident to Tanner James. The delay was not too bad, the seats are pretty comfortable, Kittle said We knew there was the accident and were more worried about Tanner being OK. The track was good and now we will go out and do what we can. We know what is in front of us. Dakar winner and four time Tatts Finke Desert Race bike winner Toby Price, along with Kyle Pfitzner in a Geiser Brothers Trophy Truck Chev 6000cc, overcame the delayed arrival of their vehicle and rolled on Friday to be 18th fastest. They will start at 7.29am today, with Price hoping to make good time so he can fly back from Aputula in time to race the bike leg starting at 11.30am. The race for cars begins at 7.15am for the leg to Finke 226km south for the overnight stop before the return leg tomorrow. Travis Robinson could not complete the prologue in his Jimco Nisson 3500cc but has been seeded in the race in 13th position. Not so lucky was Nathan Shears, who has been forced out of the race due to mechanical problems during prologue. Full results can be found on the event website: www.finkedesertrace.com.au. STEVE MENZIES South Australias Greg Gartner winner of the 2011 Finke Desert Race drives his Ford 6000cc during the races prologue yesterday in Alice Springs Picture: ELISE DERWIN STEVE MENZIES 5 DAYs TO GO 2016 V8 SupercarS championShip crownBet Darwin triple crown SupercarS Dakar champion Toby Price