Three weeks after a spectacular debut win in the Finke Desert Race, the KTM Desert Racing Team has eclipsed another quality field to occupy all three steps of the podium at the first round of the Desert Tri-Series, the Kumarina 500, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Finke winner Toby Price made it two on the trot, powering his KTM 500 EXC to victory over Ivan Long with Ben Grabham, ahead of brothers Jacob and Todd Smith, with Josh Green finishing sixth.
It was however, KTM Desert Racing Team Manager and winner of the inaugural tri-series, Ben Grabham who drew first blood in the series, by qualifying fastest in the prologue ahead of Price and Long.
Twenty-four-year-old Long rebounded on Saturday to top the time sheets after the first 250 kilometres, before Price ultimately assumed the lead on Sunday.
The series continues on July 25-27 at the Doorawarrah 500 near Carnarvon, before concluding with the Indee 500 near Port Hedland in August.
Ben Grabham, Team Manager: “It couldn’t have gone any better here for the team. It was a good strong field with all the teams and it was an awesome way to finish for the team. It was a pretty hard track on the bikes, like there was an eight-kilometre straight with a radar out there and the cool thing is that our 500s were 1, 2 and 3 in top speed. Actually they had it in a bit of a silly spot – it wasn’t even fast there. Me and Toby were like 161 and the 500 EXCs go a fair bit quicker than that.
It was awesome to see Longy have the lead overnight, he’s been putting in a lot of work and it was a good little battle amongst us all. Personally it was good to win prologue and get up front. After that I just had a nice, consistent run, didn’t do anything crazy and just hung in there.”
Toby Price: “We had a few small dramas on day one, but today everything went pretty well. We caught up to Ivan. He was on the gas and killing it, and it was hard to see in the dust, but we made that time up and got to the front, and then Ivan had a bit of a get-off which made it a little bit easier for me to get through and we came away with the win. But we’re pretty stoked, the whole KTM Desert Team went well. We’re having a good run at the moment and Grabbo is doing an unreal job and keeping us up near the front and all the boys are riding good so it’s a good result for all of us.”
Ivan Long: “I was so stoked to be on top on Saturday, especially with the company that we were in with the other teams there and Ben and Toby being there as well. Especially not knowing the track or anything I was over the moon with that.
I got to start first this morning and tried to set my own pace and get a good first lap, but after my second fuel stop the fuel breather hose had come off and was splashing fuel all over my crotch area! While I was trying to work out what was going on I hit a hole and deflected into a tree laying in the creek bed and cart-wheeled the bike. Toby pulled up and asked if I was alright and I got back on and stayed in his dust pretty much all the way until the end.”
Tri-Series Round 1 Provisional Results:
1. Toby Price, 2. Ivan Long, 3. Ben Grabham, 4. Jacob Smith, 5. Todd Smith, 6. Josh Green.
2014 Desert Racing Tri-Series:
27-29 June – Kumarina 500, (Newman Enduro Club)
25-27 July – Doorawarrah 500, (Desert Motorcycle Club)
22-24 August – Indee 500 (Port Hedland Motorcycle Club)