Hayden Bentley, two-time Tatts Finke Desert Race winner, is praying for rain.
The 2007 and 2013 ‘King of the Desert’ believes a bit of rain is good for both the competitors and the spectators alike.
“Rain would be very handy,” Bentley said.
“It’s a lot more fun as a competitor if it’s less dusty because you can pass people and see and go faster… and it’s better for the spectators, we’re not sitting in dust at half pace and we can actually race instead of it being a procession.”
Bentley, who competed in his first Finke in 1991, is not sure how many he’s done but he says it’s definitely ‘“over 20 Finkes”.
He has great memories of his wins in 2007 and 2013 but doesn’t rate one over the other.
“It’s like asking which one of your kids is your favourite,” he said.
“They are both pretty special in their own ways. Winning your first Finke is always special. Especially as we came third in 2005, second in 2006 and won it in 2007. So we went three years on the podium and to get the win was great.
“2013 was special – we won it by a mile and my father was very ill who was on the finish line.
“We had a very fast car in 2013 and started 13th and got to line first. We passed a lot of cars and had a really big go when we could see and were patient when we couldn’t see. Even on the way home we had problems but we had a really strong lead and were able to nurse it home.
“In 2007 we potentially won it as there were some faster cars but they had some problems but in 2013 we won it on pace.”
To claim his third ‘King of the Desert’ title at this year’s race, Bentley says he needs to qualify well, have a good clean run and some luck on his side.
“Absolutely we are a chance. We are a little bit disappointed, we built a new truck for Finke that is not quite ready so we are going with the one we had for the last two or three years. But having said that, absolutely we are a chance, but you just need a few things to fall your way.
“It’s very difficult to qualify the trucks up the front because it’s a buggy prologue track and from there when it’s really dusty you need some luck. There’s probably a dozen cars up there that have a legitimate claim to being a chance and hopefully we are one of them.”
Bentley has a warning for his rivals as he looks toward the 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race in his new trophy truck.
“We’ll have a rocketship next year that will open some eyes at Finke,” he said.
“We’re building a new truck that is going to be a game changer, substantially faster than what we’ve got.”
And what is it that keeps Bentley coming back year after year?
“It’s Finke,” Bentley says simply.
“There’s not many people can say they’ve won Finke and its a big achievement to finish Finke let alone to win it.
“It’s a good fun family event, there’s world-wide recognition if you do well… Ultimately it’s a good fun weekend away with your family and it’s Finke, the name says it all.”