This year was a fantastic second go at the Finke Desert Race. Unfortunately, we did not finish.... but this makes us even more determined to cross that Start/Finish line in 2020!
Here is a breakdown of the four stages of Finke for us this year.
In the lead up to Finke 2019 we ensured the truck was fully checked over with almost every bolt, nut and fluid replaced. We also wanted to stand out on the track and leave no doubt who our sponsors are so we got a brand new wrap and a matching race suit for Amy! This year Amy took over the Co-driver position. This led to Amy being asked for her first Autograph from some young female motorsports fans!
The whole team was decked out in jackets, beanies and shirts with the read and blue super eye catching amongst the sea of competitors and spectators. Our team had a big job from handing out team and sponsor stickers to engaging spectators at scrutineering night to working on the truck in any conditions.
All 165 cars and 650 bikes are inspected for the final time before being lined up in front of the
Start/Finish line. This night attracts thousands of spectators who all get to be up close and personal with the competitors and their vehicles. We love scrutineering night and this year we were able to have all 12 of our team members there, rocking our team uniform and having lots of fun chatting with everyone who came by the truck.
We had over 40 kids jump in the driver’s seat for a photo and we gave out Auto One, Valvoline and team MOR stickers. Mini MOR did come out to play for a little while which was a hit with the crowd and attracted even more people to come and say hello. Meanwhile Amy and Jack did an interview for the live feed of the Finke event and also a video with Frosty from Frosty's Aussie Adventures.
This is the time trial that decides everyone’s starting positions for Day 1. This was also Amy’s first time in the truck at full noise, however we went into prologue with one very important rule ‘Don’t bin the truck’. As we rolled closer to the start we were both feeling extremely nervous but watching other trophy trucks take off and return was making us eager for our turn. This year we took it easy and our time was 6 minutes and 25 seconds.
After prologue we took the truck for a wash to make sure she was ready for Day 1, a few final
touches and then we were locked and loaded, ready to go on a day we had been thinking about all year!
Getting up early to attend sign on and drivers brief, the nerves were back. Our support crew
unloaded us, gave us a final pep talk and then got going so they could be at Finke when we got
there. Hanging around the pits we were able to chat with other competitors as we waited for our
start time. It didn’t take long for the Officials to get us into position and get us on our way, we
started with a side by side and it didn’t take long till we left him in our dust, we then overtook
approximately 30 other competitors and saw a few pulled up along the track.
We got ourselves into clear air and were really in the groove when we threw a belt, it took us around 10 minutes to put it back on and get going. Then we threw it again only 5 minutes further on, luckily with the help of spectators we replaced the belt with our spare and carried on. However, once we were back on the track Jack lost power steering for a third time and as the engine temp rose we rolled into a Father and Son camp at the 180km marker. At this point we made the decision to go easy and limped into Finke. Lots of spectators gave us a wave as we came by their camps and some even encouraged us along with a clap. We were down but not out and it was a relief to get into Finke and see our team their cheering us on and across the Finish line of Day 1.
Overnight we went to work at our makeshift workshop (a tarp on the ground and a marquee over our heads), to get the truck repaired and ready to race. We repaired a leaking shock, found a spare starter motor and replaced ours (Cheers Bruce!), re-bushed the lower front arms bushes (four in total), tig welded the engine mounts to the chassis, replaced the power steering pump with our spare and refuelled the truck and ourselves. Jack and Amy were sent to bed at midnight while the crew continued on till 3am.
On Day 2, 12 of the original 19 Class 4 Competitors started the race. Unfortunately, we were one of only three trophy trucks which did not make it back on Day 2. Around 15kms out of Finke once again the power steering failed and the engine temp rose. Only this time we wouldn’t be putting the belt back on as our power steering pump had seized and the belt had undone the pulley from the shaft and flung it into the bush. Once again mechanical failure meant we would not finish the Finke Desert Race.
Getting back to Alice from the middle of nowhere was quite the challenge! We were towed by three different vehicles as we travelled between checkpoints. We waited at Rodinga for Dicko from Alice Springs Towing and Transport to come and get us.
And we can't wait to do it all again in 2020!