Lack of rain makes Australia' s toughest motor race even tougher

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-13 15:24:10|Editor: Song Lifang
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SYDNEY, June 13 (Xinhua) -- When it comes to off-road racing, little compares to Australia's Finke Desert Race: a gruelling two day event which saw 530 thrill-seeking motorbike riders and 140 adrenalin-addicted motor vehicle teams battle some of the world's roughest terrain in order to be crowned king of the desert.

On Sunday, competitors set out for the first day of racing from the central Australian city of Alice Springs and headed for the remote indigenous community of Finke.

What's usually a brutal 226 kilometer journey, over mud, gravel, rocks, bushland and dangerously uneven surfaces was made even more treacherous this year due to the recent drought, which made the track incredibly hard and unforgiving on the event's competitors.

To make matters worse, severe fog and freezing conditions meant that visibility was near impossible during the early morning stages.

In total, 17 riders were treated by medical staff during the race, and of that number 12 had to be taken to hospital, with one racer airlifted by helicopter.

"There was a range of injuries, from our musculoskeletal injuries, to suspected internal injuries, pelvic injuries, we've had a few spinal injuries, arm fractures, and we had three shoulder dislocations," head of operations at St John's Ambulance in Alice Springs, Andrew Everingham, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Some of them were in quite serious condition but they're in a stable condition in hospital at the moment," he added.

When the dust settled on Monday and the teams had completed both legs of the 452-kilometer return course, it was local rider Daymon Stokie who took the honors in the motorbike category on his Yamaha WR500F, despite breaking his hand during the race.

"I feel pretty beat up, I'm really happy that it's over," Stokie told local media.

Stokie added that, after finishing the event seven times previously, this year was "the roughest (he had) seen by far just because of the amount of traffic on it, and the lack of rainfall."

The victory was made all the more sweeter as the first time in eleven years that a local has won the category.

"I feel really, really proud that I can bring it home for the town," Stokie said.

In the car category, Victoria state father and son team, Shannon and Ian Rentsch won the event for the fifth time in their Jimco Nissan 3500cc buggy, narrowly beating out second place by one minute.

"We had over a three-minute gap to make up this morning but really the dust was horrendous out there," Shannon Rentsch said.

We chewed a lot of dust, so when I could see we just sort of went for it and thought we should just push pretty hard and see where we end up."

Despite all the dangers involved in the treacherous race, organizers of the event said the competition went well and that the officials worked as hard as possible to make the desert spectacle as safe as it can be.

"We've not been told of anything that has been major over the weekend, overall we've been very happy because it has been a very dusty race, we've been very conscious of our safety and the way where we've place all of our medical officers," vice-president of the Finke Desert Race Committee Damien Ryan said.