LOCAL brothers Jake and Aiden Williams have returned from their first Finke Desert Race as winners, taking out the Superlite Under 1200cc Buggy race.
Known as Australia’s greatest desert race, the Finke Desert Race is an off-road, multi-terrain two-day race for bikes, cars, buggies and quads through desert country from Alice Springs to the small Aputula (Finke) community.
Finke also has the reputation of being one of the most difficult off-road courses in the one of the most remote places in the world, held over the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
With Jake as driver and Aiden the navigator in a Yamaha YXZ1000R buggy, the pair won the prologue qualifying race on an 8km loop circuit on the Friday.
The pair qualified to start first in the Under 1200cc Buggy class, and started the 230km race to Finke on the Sunday.
In extremely dusty conditions the pair was in the lead when one of the buggy’s front steering arms came loose 20km from the finish line, causing the front wheel to twist around and dislodge.
Jake and Aiden lost 25 to 30 minutes trying to fix the buggy on the side of the road, and eventually sorted the problem with zip ties and duct tape, and limped through the last 20km of day one at 15 to 20km/h to reach the finish line at Finke.
The team fixed the buggy overnight and Jake was set with a tough task of chasing down the race leader on day two, who was now 19 minutes ahead.
Jake said the pair had a big drive ahead of them on the 230km race back to Alice Springs.
“During the first stage before the first checkpoint we’d made our way to third, then not long after that we came across second place, who was having some issues,” he said.
“We kept fighting to catch up to the leaders and by the halfway mark we’d made up 19 minutes and passed them. We passed them then had a bit of a battle with them for a while.
“We blew a rear shocker so the car wasn’t handling very good so once we passed them we babied the car to the finish line.
“We came into the finish line with a one minute and a half lead, so we made up 20 minutes.”
Jake, who has ridden motorbikes for a number of years and started driving buggies last year, said he enjoyed racing in the biggest off road desert race in Australia.
“It’s completely different in the way you have to drive and lines you have to choose, using four wheels of the buggy rather than two of a bike,” he said.
“I’ve been to Finke before to help with other riders so it was good to finally go down the track and experience it.”
The pair will now compete in the Milbrodale Mountain Classic in New South Wales on July 8 and 9, before competing in another desert race in South Australia later in the year.