The Centralian advocate Tue 9 Jun 2009
Centralian Advocate; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Alice Springs; Tennant Creek (N.T.) -- Newspapers; Alice Springs (N.T.) -- Newspapers.; Australia, Central -- Newspapers
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
v. 63 no. 5
Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
4 Centralian Advocate, Tuesday, June 9, 2009 P U B : C A D V D A T E : 9 -J U N -2 0 0 9 P A G E : 4 C O L O R : C M Y K 3 1 5 0 0 2 /0 9 Hanging out Daniel Franklin emerges from the dust. Arriving at the campground. Reporter DANIEL BURDON and photographer DERRICK DEN HOLLANDER went to the Finke community to catch all the action at the halfway mark. The way back home. I T was plain sailing on the drive of about 430km down the Stuart Highway to Kulgera, site of the first and last pub in the Territory, depending which way youre heading. And on to Finke was fairly uneventful too. We bounced into Finke (Aputula) about the same time fans and visitors were flocking to the Start-Finish line in Alice Springs to watch the bikes prologue. Volunteers were testing timing facilities as support crews and friends of competitors began setting up camps along the track. The race did not begin until Sunday morning but the campground was buzzing with action. As long-time volunteer and coordinator at the Finke end, Nina Hargrave, and the team of support staff were testing the timing rig, volunteers from St John Ambulance were preparing for what is one of the biggest weekends on the Central Australian calendar. But it was not until Sunday morning when the spirit of the race permeated through the c o m m u n i t y a n d campground. From professional rigs there to support top-notch racers, to the crew made up of a few mates who had driven hundreds of kilometres to help a competitor, the racers, fans and families started pouring in to the campground. At about 9.30am, the sound of a screaming buggy tore through the wilderness at an awesome pace to cross the halfway mark. It was previous race kings David Fellows and Andrew Kittle. From that moment, fans, friends and families were glued to the best spectator positions either the big jump about 30 metres before the start-finish line, or near the Finke River c r e e k b e d , w h e r e drivers and riders would rip through the sand sending waves of excitement through the onlookers. And, for the wideeyed children, smiling men and women with car tools, or maybe a beer in hand, the excitement did not let up all weekend. Volunteers scrambled to keep track of all competitors. They made sure the arrivals were looked after, handing out bottles of water to thirsty drivers and, later in the day, to the bike riders. Looking down the last stretch of track from the Finke finish line, spectators could tell when a major competitor was about to emerge from the dust you could hear the helicopters a mile away masking the throb of a fourstroke motor or high pitched whine of the two-banger variety. Bathurst man and returned King of the Desert Ben Grabham was first the bike ride in, some seven minutes before pole positioned former Alice Springs man Caleb Auricht. It was handshakes all round as the top of the field rolled into Finke. The racers laughed and joked with each other but spared a thought for what might have happened to other competitors who didnt get that far. B ack at the camp, there were still more than 450 bikes to come in plenty of time for a cold one, or chilling out in a deckchair and riderspotting for the hundreds of people who now thronged the community. Mind you, it wasnt all fun and games. After all, a lot of the people were there to ensure the vehicles that had made it halfway would make it back. What the leaders said THE first two drivers and bike riders to reach the Finke Desert Race halfway mark talked to the Centralian Advocate about how things had gone. First into Finke, buggy driver and multiple King of the Desert, David Fellows said: We had a good run coming down, just a couple of mishaps, but we made it here in the end. The track was a little rougher than expected, but well see how we go tomorrow. We only have 10 seconds on Chris Coulthard, so it could be interesting. Second into Finke, Alice Springs Coulthard said: It was a good run overall but I had a bit of trouble with my helmet in the beginning. It kept fogging up and I had to slow down to see, so I opened it and of course, it filled up with dust. I knew it was going to be rough this year. The dust tomorrow might be a bit of a problem, but well see how we go. Three-time King of the Desert Ben Grabham was the first bike into Finke, followed by Caleb Auricht. Grabham said: I had a good clean run, pretty trouble- free. It felt good but there were times when I backed off to be safe. I had a pretty good time. View over the track at Finke. A fiery welcome. The catering facilities. All set for the morning start. 2009 FINKE DESERT RACE
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