Victorian driving Duo Shannon and Ian Rentsch have been crowned Kings of the Desert for the 4th time in the weekend's Tatts Finke Desert race.
Their other victories were in 2005 and 2006, as well as last year.
The pair covered the 452 kilometres in 3 hours, 42 minutes and 20 seconds.
Rider Toby Price from New South Wales also enjoyed his fourth victory, having won last year, as well as in 2010 and 2012.
His time was 3 hours 52 minutes and 54 seconds.
As if it could have escaped any Centralian’s attention, this weekend sees the 40th Finke Desert Race run, and 8HA will be there as the official broadcaster.
In a little booth right at the start/finish line 8HA’s Sandee Beech will be anchoring the coverage across the weekend, with the much-appreciated help of local motorsport expert Rod Berry.
Rod was involved with 8HA’s coverage last year and is well-known to listeners of the Saturday morning sports show. He says “it really is going to be raw emotion, I know probably half the buggy field, so to see them coming back towards the finish line is an absolutely huge achievement. Been there, done it myself so I know how hard it is on driver and machine”
And of the bikes Rod says “when you see them come across the line, you’ve got a tear in your eye. We were there right up until the last bike last year, I think there were about 10 left when we finished on air but we stayed there and cheered the last bike rider across the line and that is just absolutely amazing.”
Commentators Jodie and Rusty Bell are back for the fifth time, and Jodie’s already interviewed dozens of people in the lead-up, to create pre-recorded content that can be played while presenters organise the next round of interviews in the studio.
The other option open to the 8HA presenters is to throw to the commentary box where Rusty constantly translates information on rider and driver positions along the track, while Jodie wanders the start/finish line talking to people on the ground.
The team acknowledges feedback from last year’s broadcast, that listeners are keen to hear about the positions of all the competitors, not just the top selection from each field. But it’s going to be a tough ask to get everyone a mention, especially this year, as Jodie explains:
“With so many competitors, If we did continual calls as to what checkpoints they’d passed through we’d no sooner finish then it would be time to start again!”
But rest assured a half-hourly update will recap the top positions, and 8HA will do its very best to keep listeners across the positions of some 900 competitors in this record-breaking year.
And as the winners cross the line, 8HA will be there. One of Alice Springs’s best-loved volunteers is Mary Meldrum, a very recognisable voice to 8HA listeners. She loves to be in amongst the studio action and has a particular passion for bikes “when the riders come back, like last year we had Toby Price and David Walsh come straight in and tell us all about it. It’s good for the town and it’s good for everyone else involved too.”
8HA Operations Manager, Bruce Davenport believes the station can bring ‘a local feel’ to the event through ‘instant results and personality - all of our presenters have their own take on motorsport.
‘8HA is a heritage station - we’ve been here since 1971- and the Finke Desert Race has been going since the mid seventies so it’s great that we’re all bringing this Alice Springs feel together…the event, the radio station, our listeners…I couldn’t be happier.” (Click here to hear a full interview with Bruce Davenport)
And if there’s any doubt as to just how intense the experience will be, not only for those taking part, but for all the volunteers, and indeed those involved in the broadcast, commentator Jodie Bell puts it this way: “it’s madness, it’s non stop, it’s full noise. It’s Finke!”
Find 8HA at 900AM on your dial or 100.5FM at Yulara.
Tune in for prologue coverage on Saturday between 0800 and 1200, and again in the evening between 1830 and 1930 for a prologue wrap up with Rod Berry and Rusty and Jodie Bell.
Our special Finke 40 broadcasts with Sandee Beech and Rod Berry are on air between 0700 and 1600 on the race days.
Rowdy presents a results show with Mayor Damien Ryan between 1800 and 1900 both race days.
Online content and podcasts can be found via the 8HA Facebook page.
For more information on the race head to: finkedesertrace.com.au
Image courtesy of the Finke Desert Race committee.