Last year’s Tatts Finke Desert Race’s bounced back from two COVID-effected years in perfect style as it was one of the biggest and best editions in recent times.
The record-breaking year for the iconic event was the third round of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship, and it was a familiar name in Toby Price, who picked up his second win after making it down to Finke and back in a record-breaking up time.
Price ensured he was first out on the road for Sunday morning after setting the fastest time in the Method Race Wheels Prologue, finishing a mere two tenths ahead of Josh Howells.
Finishing third outright was Aaron James, while WA star Beau Robinson found himself in fourth in his brand new Geiser Trophy Truck.
When it came to the journey down to Finke, it what was a brutal day for many contenders and crews, however like previous years, it was smooth sailing for Price after reaching the Apatula Community in a record time of one hour and 36 minutes.
Whilst only being able to come within five seconds of Price, Aaron James did enough to post the second fastest time of the session after 2019 runner-up Josh Howells in the process – with the AORC regular forced to retire midway through the run down.
Another driver forced to retire was 2022 Pooncarie Desert Dash podium finisher Shane Elphinstone, while the experienced Robinson had a day to forget after losing the engine within 20km of Finke to classify in 104th overall.
Eventual 2022 AORC champion, Ryan Taylor struggled to find his way down to Finke but still managed to get there, but with plenty of work to do on day two.
Come Sunday, a near-faultless from Price saw notch up his eighth Finke win – two in the cars and six on two-wheels.
“We’re stoked and it was a good run back,” Price said post-race.
“We didn’t push, we didn’t do anything crazy, I just can’t thank my crew enough for all their efforts.
“We had a really good run yesterday, and the hardest part is that you don’t know what’s going on behind you. You push really hard, and the boys have done a great job with the truck… everything has turned out really good.”
The now back-to-back Finke Desert Race champion finished with a combined time of three hours, 21 minutes and 46 seconds – two minutes ahead of second place finisher and solo entrant Aaron James.
James was able to post the fastest time of the day but fell just short after Price’s record-breaking opening run almost all but sealed the deal.
Coming home in third place was Brent Martin and Ben Dawson, with the duo posting a total time of one hour, 45 minutes and 30 seconds on day two on the way back.
Peter Carr and Matthew Wyndham claimed top honours in the SXS Motorsport Australia Championship, winning the SXS Turbo class while John Wisse and Emily Brandle were top of SXS Sport.
Price understandably saluted in Extreme 2WD, while in Extreme 4WD it was an epic outing as Hayden Bentley left victorious in their class.
The Pro Buggy class was claimed by second place outright finisher James, while third place finisher Martin stood tall in the Prolite class.
The final class winners included Jodie Allen in the Production 4WD, Chris Pickert in Production 2WD, Rodney Visser in Sportslite and Simon Tucker in the S1650 class.
In the end, only 82 entrants would finish the endurance race, highlighting the difficult nature of the historic desert race.
The 2023 Tatts Finke Desert Race takes place in Alice Springs on 9-12 June.