South Australia’s Brad Gallard and Scott Modistach joined an elite group of Australian Off Road Racers, by winning the 37th Tatts Finke Desert Race in the red centre on the Queens Birthday Long Weekend. In their seventh attempt at the iconic race, Gallard and Modistach drove the #454 Monster Energy Geiser Truck to victory in a time of 3hr 51min 33sec to become crowned the Kings of the Desert, ahead of the #55 Alpha Buggy of Coleman and Teagle in second, and the #413 OBR Geiser Truck of Robinson and Skinner in third.
Now in it’s 37th year, the Tatts Finke Desert Race continues to be the ultimate test for offroad racers, with the track which runs down the old Ghan Railway from Alice Springs to the Apatula Community (Finke) and back over two days providing the ultimate proving ground for tyres, suspension and drivetrains. Man and machine are pushed to the limits as they tackle the famous red sand dunes and huge Finke whoops that resemble an unforgiving large ocean swell.
The road to becoming King of the Desert wasn’t an easy one for Gallard. Qualifing sixth during Saturday’s prologue, Gallard dug deep and applied the motto of “Attack the Dirt” emblazoned on the side of the 37” Toyo’s. Unleashing the fury of the six litre V8 powered Geiser Bros Trophy Truck on the famous Finke whoops and sand hill fly overs. Charging into first position on the first leg of the race from Alice Springs to Finke with a time of 1hr 56min 39 seconds.
“We started in sixth spot and it was hard work even getting through the gate out of the prologue complex. We had dust pretty much all the way from Alice Springs down to Finke, mentally it was the toughest drive I have ever done.” Said Gallard at the Finke overnight camp, continuing “We would have only spent about 20% of the time in clear air on the way to Finke and we didn’t need lunch as we had solids the whole way.”
In contrast Monday’s return leg was a breeze. Starting first on the road with a 3 minute 19 second buffer over Rentsch, Gallard had a dust free run all the way back to Alice Springs. Completing the final leg home in a time of 1hr 54min 53 sec to take the Tatts Finke Desert Race win and claim the “King of the Desert” title for the first time.
“The Geiser truck was flawless, we’ve got it dialed in now and didn’t miss a beat. It did it easy, real easy.” Said Gallard, “I knew the truck always had it in it and it was just a matter of getting up towards the front in the prologue and seeing what happened.”
“I’ve been coming here 7 years I’ve been coming here for 7 years with my sights set on taking out no 1 overall in Australia’s Greatest Desert Race. I’m overwhelmed to have achieved it and stoked to be on the record books with some of the best names in Off Road Racing.”
The victory rewarded the Monster Energy team for their no holds barred approach to the race, which started just as the dust was settling from the 2011 event. Firm believers that the race is won well before the green flag drops, Gallard and Modistach both spent time in the Geiser Brothers workshop in the US earlier this year to hone their preparation skills. Then when testing at the Flinders 400 in late April revealed a rear axle weakness, the rear end of the truck was upgraded to the latest Tubeworx offerings. No chances were taken when it came to choosing rubber, with Toyo air freighting the same race spec 37×13.5R17 Open Country M/T-R’s as used by Robbie Gordon and BJ Baldwin on their barn storming Trophy Trucks in the US.
“We were confident in the complete truck package. The Toyo tyres held up perfectly the whole way and had awesome grip over the wide variety of terrain. They still have the sharp edges on them at the finish line, even after tackling the torturous terrain. I know we hit some rocks a couple of times hard, but there was still no sign of damage.” Commented Gallard
Gallards Finke victory capped off back to back wins at major events for Geiser Brothers, with Bryce Menzies taking line honours at the Baja 500 in a Geiser truck a week earlier. While Beau Robinson taking 3rd outright even after a big end-for-end roll at the 40km dune in the #413 OBR Geiser and central Queensland’s #441 Billy Geddes nailing down third in the Extreme 2wd class and ninth outright.
Brad and the #454 Monster Energy Team will now focus their attention to the Hi-Tec Oils Riverland 300 at Waikerie on June 29 – July 1, before heading north to tackle the infamous melon holes of the Albins Offroad Gear Goondiwindi 400 in August.
The team would like to thank Monster Energy, Hi-Tec Oils, Toyo Tires, Unifilter, F1 Logistics, PWR, Geiser Bros, Autosport, Velo Racing Products and Dirtcomp for their continued support in 2012.