[Events Bright]

2018 8-Hour @ Bright: 10 Talking Points

1 year ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Donat O'Kelly, Jarrad Duffy

The highlights videoimage gallery and the all the photos from the 8-Hour will have given you a visual window into the event. But what else went down at the inaugural Transmoto 8-Hour at Bright’s Happy Valley? From the all the anecdotes to come out of the memorable weekend in Victoria, here are our favourite tales that prompted the most talk…


Our hat goes off to anybody who’s got the sack to sign up and race the Ironman class. But there was something special about the front-running Men of Iron at Bright, evidenced by the fact that two hours into the race, four of them (Matt Ryan, Daniel Pahl, Sean Holmes and Kye Anderson) featured in the top 10 Outright places. As was almost inevitable, a war of attrition on man and/or machine meant that three of these guys would slip out of the top 10 Outright over the course of the day.

But at the seven-hour mark, Matt Ryan was still running second Outright against Teams of three or four riders, several of whom boasted big-name Pro riders. The former Pro MXer (and current sales guru at Wodonga-based dealership, KSP KTM) dialled it back a notch for the final hour, but he still racked up 21 laps to win the Ironman class and finish as astonishing fourth Outright – a result that bettered multiple Ironman-class champ, Kye Anderson’s best ever Outright result: a fifth. In spite of the fact Ryan’s got a bung kidney that messes with his hydration levels, he looked alarmingly fresh at the end of eight gruelling hours around that gnarly track. And he’d want to be too, cos on Tuesday morning, Ryan flew to Las Vegas to take part in KTM’s annual dealer conference – itself noted for being a torrid affair when it comes to hydration!

KSP-supported Daniel Pahl kept Matt Ryan honest for the first few hours in the Ironman class, until a split radiator cooked his 350EXC-F. After losing a lot of time, Pahl was handed a 300EXC TPI demo bike (which the KSP posse had on display), and he brought the thing home in second place (and a very respectable 14th Outright!). Also worthy of mention is Sherco’s Kate Norman, who was the only Ironwoman in the 24-strong Ironman field at Bright. She cranked out eight laps and finished 17th.


Dirt bike riders aren’t necessarily known for their literary skills, but it seems the pits at Bright were harbouring several budding Hemingways intent on playing industrial-scale scrabble with our illuminated, Hollywood-style “TRANSMOTO 8-HOUR” sign on the far hillside. In the course of two very entertaining hours on Saturday night, the lettering had morphed into “NO TOMATO”, “TRANSHOMO” and various other clever permutations, most of which made grown men drop their campfire beers in laughter. When dawn broke on raceday, the sign had miraculously reverted to its original arrangement, but the toilet humour it gave rise to will forever go down as a proudly juvenile moment in Transmoto event history. 


When a couple of knockabout blokes land themselves on the top of a class’ podium, it reinforces what Transmoto’s Enduro Events are all about. And that’s exactly what happened this year at Bright, where the laconic ‘The Plumbers’ duo of Jamie Robins and Rhys Kratzat not only won the Pairs class, but also ran sixth Outright. “Mate, we’re a couple of next-door neighbours from South Gippsland who decided at the last minute to have a crack at the 8-Hour,” explained 24-year-old Jamie Robins who, along with Kratzat, races the Victorian Off-Road Series and the odd AORC round. “I was riding a 2015-model 350SX-F that I borrowed from a mate because my bike was in need of some work.

It hadn’t even been ridden in three years and the rubber on the rear tyre had gone hard, so I’d torn all the side knobs off the thing by mid-afternoon. Rhys and I had an absolute ball of a day, and we were actually pretty surprised to wind up finishing so high in the results. We stayed in Harrietville up near Mount Hotham on Saturday night, where we met my old man and a dozen of his mates who were doing an adventure ride on Kato 690s and Husky 701s. So it was a bloody good weekend all-round,” Robins went on to say.


For the first time in eight years of Transmoto Enduro Events, one lucky entrant got the chance to go home with a new bike at Bright, simply for signing up to race. Yep, thanks to naming-rights sponsor, Husqvarna, all entrants automatically went in the draw to win their choice of any machine from Husky’s 2018 enduro or cross-country model range, and it’s a day that Goulburn’s based rider, Mike Beard, will never forget. So overwhelmed was Beard that, when his name was called out as the winner, he inadvertently abandoned his four-year-old, teary son in the crowd as he came up to claim his Swedish-born, Austrian-bred prize. According to the interview we did with Beard the next day though, it sounds like he plans to make it up to his young fella by adding a new Husky 50cc Adventure machine to his garage.


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.

And how fitting was it that the Aussie Dirt Chicks trio of Phoebe Snell, Kate Burt and Kasey Ludeman won the right to park their cash-flushed selves in freeloader Pro-town. Yep, the three Vicco girls lapped up their ‘VW Primo Pit’ experience, and capped off a great weekend by placing second in the Wonder Women class.


Eight years ago, when we first ran the Transmoto 12-Hour on his dad’s Batemans Bay property, Jack Heffernan was a 13-year-old moto-frother who just couldn’t get enough of this new teams-based race that’d landed in his backyard. In the years since, Jack and his brother Dean have played a key role in designing, building, maintaining and repatriating several of the tracks that play host to Transmoto Enduro Events. And as soon as they were 16, they’ve raced the things pretty successfully too.

So how cool was it to see Jack Heffernan, the 21-year-old man mountain, finally get up and win one Outright! He was teamed up with fellow Husky riders, Josh and Mitch Brierley – a couple of down-to-earth, Goulburn-based brothers who are repeatedly proving they’re got a big future in Australia’s national off-road scene.


All funds raised at the inaugural Transmoto 8-Hour at Bright went to a 22-year-old local resident called Jordan Miller whose life changed radically in November last year, when he received the terrifying news that he had a brain tumour. Thanks to the generosity of the Goulburn MCC’s Steve Robertson and reigning AORC and A4DE champ, Dan Milner (and a stroke of auctioneering genius from Transmoto’s Event Manager, Robbie Red Dog Dingo Warden), the Pole Position Auction raised $3200. And combined with the $1165 raised for the running race (the “bootleg-it for the starting grid’), a total of $4365 was raised for Jordy Miller during the weekend; money that’ll go toward the costs associated with his ongoing medical treatment.


For years, we’ve spruiked the fact that out event’s ‘self-regulating’ starting grids are unique in the world of motorsport, and that they’re an effective exercise is mass moto democracy. Well, a bit of unsavory argy-bargy at the recent 12-Hour prompted us to revise the ‘mechanism’ used to determine the starting grid order. Instead of the old self-regulating ‘system’, the first 10 rows (that’s 40 riders) of Bright’s starting grid were only made available to riders/teams who made a $25 donation to the Pole Position Auction, and who entered one of their riders into a running race at 5pm on Saturday – the only rules being that they needed to carry their team transponder in a pocket and wear boots to make their running action suitably awkward. And didn’t that boot-scoot turn into one of the hottest, funniest tickets in town for spectators.

Sure, there were protests, fallers, and whingers who reckoned their times were out by a few tenths, but it served its purpose and dictated terms for the first 10 rows of Sunday morning’s grid. And more importantly, it contributed more than a grand to the event’s fundraising efforts.


With 100 groms tearing around the Myrtleford MX track just up the road, Saturday’s non-competitive Junior/Fun loop was never going to set any attendance records.

But as this was the first time we offered kids aged nine to 15 the chance to get involved with a Transmoto event, we were pretty happy about the roll-up of 15 kids who got the opportunity to sample the custom-made Happy Valley loop, a few of them with their dads in tow as honourary sweep riders.


Why is the region 10km southeast of Myrtleford called Happy Valley? It could have something to do with the fact it’s covered in magic mushrooms, contented farmers and well-fed grazing stock. Or the name could have something to do with picturesque vistas in every direction, and the amazing canvas it offers for dirt squirters. But more likely, it’s the fact this amazing piece of terra firma funnels its inhabitants into an amazing old, family-owned and run pub called the Happy Valley Hotel, which has served the region since 1854.

The beautifully renovated HVH is bike-friendly, has a cracking good atmosphere, and some of the best steaks you’ll find in the country. And being just 4km down the road from the Transmoto 8-Hour meant it sure amplified the feel-good factor for many happy campers at the event.

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