Tye Simmonds delivers the good for KTM to win the Australian Hattah Desert Race near Mildura.
Making it a KTM 1-2, Simmonds was joined on the podium by teammate Daniel Sanders, while Yamaha’s Beau Ralston completed the top three.
Just three weeks after Toby Price claimed the first of the country's big winter desert races – the Finke - Finke runner-up Simmonds and AORC championship leader Sanders fought out an intense battle for supremacy for the second, exchanging the lead approximately 10 times during the third and fourth laps of the rugged four-hour desert epic before Simmonds was able to break clear.
At the end of four hours Simmonds won the event by over 12 seconds from Sanders, their battle dragging them almost 11 minutes clear of third placed Beau Ralston.
“It’s definitely the biggest win I've achieved so far,” told Simmonds. “It was on all day with Chucky, I had a bit of a game plan and by the fourth lap I realised it wasn't going to work. I wanted to try and outrun him and get out of there, but we probably swapped for the lead 8 to 10 times over two laps.
“It was good racing, and for it to come down to the wire that close, was an awesome finish for us two boys and the team. It wasn't a big win, but 12 seconds, we’ll take it.”
Switching from his regular KTM 300 two-stroke to a 500 EXC, Sanders took the early advantage as he qualified fastest, earning the right to lead the field out onto the track. But when he took a tumble while battling over the lead with Simmonds late on the fourth lap, his team mate was able to open a gap that Sanders could not fully close.
“I got the win at Prologue and it was good to take off first; that was a good experience,” said Sanders. “Tye blew past me a couple of minutes in, and I sat on him for a couple of laps. As soon as the lappers came into play on the third lap, we passed each other about 10 times.
“I had good fun with him, it was pretty funny, he'd get screwed up by a lapper and I'd come past him, giggling. Then on the fourth lap he had a big moment and just saved it and then I hit the same thing after him and cartwheeled and lost him.”
It was almost a 1-2-3, with Finke class winner Nathan Trigg holding third on a KTM 500 EXC until the very last lap, when his bib mousse rear tyre failed, and he was forced to limp home in 11th place on just the rim. Active8 Yamalube Yamaha’s Beau Ralston instead claimed third outright and first in class.
In just his second attempt at the physically demanding event, Ralston rode exceptionally well all day to take third outright in a time of 4 hours and 17 minutes, but more importantly, win the 450cc division with a comfortable margin back to his nearest rivals.
Riding a WR450F, Ralston started the event positively qualifying in fourth place and feeling good on the bike.
During the opening laps of the eight lap event, Ralston was able to consolidate his position in fourth before moving into third in the latter stages of the race. All riders ahead of Ralston were on 500cc machines.
In the 450cc class, he led from the get-go to take a start to finish class victory in a dominant display for the WR450F.
“This is one of the hardest races to do as you just go wide open for four hours,” Ralston explains. “It’s like a big sand based motocross track so there is no relaxing out there and by the last couple of laps, the track is rough and the sand is deep and is really hard work but the reward is worth it in the end. I like racing here.”
Photos: John Pearson, Mad Dog Images
Hattah Desert Race Outright
1. Tye SIMMONDS KTM 4:06:28.673
2. Daniel SANDERS KTM 4:06:41.133
3. Beau RALSTON YAM 4:17:11.530
4. Glenn KEARNEY HQVA 4:23:45.385
5. Peter BOYLE HON 4:30:50.831