2018 12-Hour: 12 Telling Tales

2 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Donat O’Kelly, Andy Wigan

In the week since the sun set on the 2018 Transmoto 12-Hour, you’ve drooled over the highlights video, ogled at the image galleries, pored over the results, and been introduced to the winners of the Special Awards and Team Categories.
But what else went down at this year’s battle of Batemans Bay? Who and what will the 2018 event be remembered for? Well, from the smorgasbord of anecdotes to come out of the eighth installment of Transmoto’s flagship enduro event, here are 12 tales to sink your teeth into…


Sure, it takes guts to throw your balls on the crossbar and huck a Backflip, or to bang bars with 39 other maniacal MXers through a first turn. But to commit your mind, body and manhood to 12 continuous hours aboard a dirt bike at the Transmoto 12-Hour evokes another level of admiration altogether. For reasons that make more sense to them than us, 22 blokes entered the Ironman class at this year’s 12-Hour. And 15 of them finished it. Spearheading the tough-guy class again this year was KTM Newcastle-supported endurance supremo, Kye Anderson, who notched up his seventh Ironman-class win.

Anderson’s astonishing tally of 31 laps (not far off the winning four-man team’s 36 laps) put him in 18th position Outright – a physical feat that left everyone lost for words. “This time around, I pulled up feeling better than in previous years after the 12-Hour,” explained the 28-year-old around Sunday night’s campfire, in matter-of-fact terms. “I got my nutrition and hydration right, but I was forced to slow up for the final few hours because the tendons in my wrists went all funky and I lost grip strength. Still, I was stoked on the result, and my KTM 350EXC-F was a dream to ride. I’m just glad we decided to stay the night here rather than drive all the way home to Port Macquarie. That’s been brutal in previous years.”
Daniel Pahl – a relative newcomer to the sport, who won the Transmoto 8-Hour at Dargo late last year – put in an incredible 30-lap performance to finish second to Anderson. And in third place, also notching up 30 gruelling laps, was 2013 12-Hour Ironman winner, Matt Lavis.


Admittedly, the boys from Ellaspede beat us to it with the signage at their ‘Dust Hustle’ events in Queensland last year, but that didn’t stop anyone in the 12-Hour’s pits from pointing out how cool the Hollywood-style “Transmoto 12-Hour” signage looked. Poised imperiously on the hillside above the pit paddock, with each letter standing almost two metres tall, the bright white lettering took pride of place in countless entrants’ selfies. It also came up a treat in the aerial footage and, when lit up at night, served as mesmerising neon backdrop for the 1000 people camping out under the Buckenbowra stars.


To ensure intermediate-level riders don’t feel intimidated, the race loops we build at Transmoto Enduro Events aren’t overly technical. The challenge is designed to stem primarily from the race’s longevity, rather than any extreme obstacles themselves. And the 14km loop at the 2018 12-Hour was a perfect example of that track-building philosophy … well, aside from this year’s two creek crossings, that is.

While the creeks’ water was only knee-deep, the muddy banks and stretch of super-slippery river pebbles made life tricky for Pro and punters alike. Predictably, photographers and spectators flocked to these two-wheeled flytraps, where a posse of sweep riders skull-dragged stranded riders to safety. And when the first crossing’s exit ‘ramp’ turned from technical to impassable by mid-afternoon, a group of enterprising young locals – who called themselves “The Buckenbowra Billygoats” – joined forces with the sweeps and used pickaxes to fashion an alternative exit route. Ingenious!


Thanks to 100mm of rain in the two weeks leading up to the 2018 12-Hour, and mid-20 temps forecast for the event weekend, organisers and entrants were relieved not to be up against another year of weather extremes (this time last year, the access road’s causeway was waist-deep, which came within a poofteenth of prompting the event’s postponement). In fact, with Saturday’s temps climbing into the 30s and the gravel-based roads into the venue bone dry, many expected Sunday’s race loop to be dusty. But when Sunday dawned a cool autumn day, Course Director Lyndon Heffernan called it. “Get ready for prime conditions,” Heffo said, with all the confidence in the world. “There’s a reason council records refer to the venue’s soil type as ‘massive sandy loam’. It mops up rain really well, and it’ll hold that 100 we recently had just beautifully. Combined with these overcast conditions and we’re set for some chocolate cake mix, boys. Mark my words!’
Sure enough, Heffo was on the money. A few ridgeline sections started to get a little dusty by the afternoon, but conditions for a greater majority of Sunday’s race loop were literally as good as it gets. Thank you, Lord Loam!


At Transmoto Enduro Events, race day is always marked by 5.30am Reveille. But instead of a lone bugle, it comes in the form of an eardrum-bursting, pre-sunrise blast across the PA system with a song that’s been the subject of months of debate. This year, we settled on the first Aussie anthem since ACDC’s Hells Bells back in 2013 – Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning – to break the pre-dawn silence and rattle entrants out of bed and into 12 hours worth of fossil fuel-burning action.


As far as we know, Transmoto runs the only motorsport events in the world in which teams’ starting grid positions are ‘self-regulated’; where the starting order is determined by the riders themselves, rather than via qualifying or a prologue. The idea is simple: entrants who reckon they’re at fast end of the spectrum grab a spot near the front of the grid on Saturday night, while those racing for fun find a spot toward the middle or rear at their leisure on Sunday morning. Of course, this ‘system’ intentionally leaves things open to interpretation; a void that’s inevitably filled by a clash of some frontrunners’ egos. And with our cameras trained on the action when the starting grid is officially opened at 6pm on Saturday, the trash talk and bar-banging at the top-end of fast-guy town is priceless!


One thing we’ve not managed to do particularly well at our events is create a good communal area. But at this year’s 12-Hour, we stumbled on what appears to be the perfect solution: a massive, Nordic-style tipi that came complete with fairy lights, a built-in fireplace, and rustic timber chairs and tables. Situated right next to the movies playing on the mega screen, the KataLane tipi transformed the 2018 event by lending an air of conviviality to Saturday night’s atmosphere. Come race day, the tipi morphed into a giant shade cloth – conveniently adjacent to the food stall, timing services, trade alley stands and admin desks – from which spectators and teammates could keep an eye on the big screen’s running results.


Show us another dirt bike event where you can win bespoke jewellery. Yeah, thought so. Thanks to 12-Hour sponsor, Bunda Fine Jewels (a Sydney-based family business that’s owned by former Australian Enduro Champion, Ben Bunda), anyone who bought a raffle ticket at this year’s Transmoto 12-Hour went in the running to win a pair of silver Bunda Sprocket Diamond Stud Earrings. Meanwhile, the victorious Ironman, Kye Anderson, walked away with the coveted Bunda 12-Hour Golden Sprocket, which is worth a cool $1250! But the magic of Benny Bunda’s involvement didn’t stop there. The man also provided the entire Transmoto Events team with when seemed like an endless supply of gourmet pork and beef that was so mouth-watering, it’s become the stuff of legend.


No one likes cleaning and oiling air filters, let alone performing the sticky task for someone else. But that’s exactly what the guys from Uni Filter offered entrants at the 2018 12-Hour (well, the oiling part anyway). And they did it for free (irrespective of what brand of filter you rocked up with), using their tried and tested mineral-based red filter oil and special ‘tumble-oiler’ technique. In spite of the fact there was bugger-all dust to speak of, Uni Filter’s Myles Gooch was kept busy by entrants on Saturday. “I ended up oiling nearly 150 foam filters,” Myles told us. “One bloke even rocked up with 15 filters. That was a bit cheeky, but we sorted him out all the same. He sounds like a bloke who needs to sign up for our new Pro or Club Pack deals, which bundles 12 months worth of air filter supply and maintenance,” Myles went on to say with a laugh.


It has become tradition at Transmoto events for pole position to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to a worthy cause. At the 2018 12-Hour, Team 51’s Wayne McAulay won the bid with a $1300 donation (from his Civil Projects business, CIVX) to DV Free, a charity recently established to help raise awareness about domestic violence. Making sure they milked their promotional value from the winning bid, the amusing Team 51 posse arranged for their pole position pilot (a rattled Jack Blackmore) to be accompanied by a perky umbrella boy who, just in case his red hotpants and bare chest didn’t attract everyone’s attention, kept dropping to the ground and pumping out 20 push-ups for some reason. Comic gold!


Thanks to our partners at VW Amarok, all teams get the opportunity to not only win a free entry at each of Transmoto’s events this year; they also score a ‘pit upgrade’, which entitles them to set up alongside one of KTM’s or Husqvarna’s Pro race teams and rub shoulders with some of Australia’s best-known industry players and Pro racers all weekend. Winning the inaugural VW ‘freeloaders’ competition at the 12-Hour were four classic characters from a team called ‘The Ronnie Macs’ – Dan Mole, Josh Tapscott, Josh Hemley and Eddie Bell – all of whom had travelled from Victoria or, in Eddie’s case, Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory! And didn’t the Ronnie Macs lap up their ‘VW Primo Pit’ experience. Aside from the boys getting to share a Saturday night beer with Pro riders and personnel from our naming-right sponsors, we’re pretty sure we saw them calling on the factory mechanics for a few running repairs and bike tuning on race day, too. Attaboys!


We couldn’t finish up without making mention of the 2018 Transmoto 12-Hour’s Outright winner – the Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team line-up of Lachlan Stanford, Daniel Sanders, Fraser Higlett and Christian Horwood. No doubt this Husky quartet took great pleasure in upstaging their sister-company colleagues from the KTM Off-Road Racing Team, but we couldn’t help but notice that their team was stacked with three currently active Pro riders, while their KTM counterparts ‘only’ boasted two Pros. “Look, we realise that stacking our teams with Pro riders kind of flies in the face of the spirit of the 12-Hour,” conceded KTM/Husqvarna Motorsport Marketing Manager, Kyle Blunden, in the week leading up to the event. “But the fact is, with this year’s 12-Hour being just a week ahead of the opening round of the Australian Off-Road Championship, it offered both our race teams the perfect opportunity for a final shakedown before the national series got underway. We promise our Pro riders will be split and teamed up with dealer customers at the other six events this year.” Damn straight they will, Kyle!

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