The Ironman From Dargo River

6 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Donat O'Kelly, Jarrad Duffy

As you may have read in last week’s ‘Standout Stories’ piece on the 2017 Transmoto 8-Hour at Dargo, a bloke called Daniel Pahl racked up 18 ball-breaking laps of Dargo’s 16km loop aboard his 2017-model KTM 300EXC, and claimed his maiden Ironman-class win. Incredibly, the likeable Pahl ran 24th Outright in a field of 125 teams, which ain’t bad for a bloke who first jumped on a dirt bike just four years ago! A week after the event, we gave the 30-year-old Victorian a buzz to see how he’d pulled up, and asked him to reflect on the achievement.

TM: First up, Daniel … congrats, mate.
DP: Yeah, thanks. It was a great feeling to get that win.

You only took the lead in the final hour of racing at Dargo, so what happened to you before that? You were well down the Ironman standings in the morning.
I got a good start, but then I got a bloody flat on the first lap, which cost me a fair few positions. Shortly after that, I boiled my brakes and lost a heap of time. I think I did a 36-minute lap instead of the 21-minute laps I was typically doing. After that, though, I didn’t have any dramas and just worked my way forward though the field. You’re right; it was in the final hour that I took the lead in the class, and then I just held on for the win. I was so stoked. And it was really nice to have my girlfriend and family at the event to support me and to be there at the finish line to celebrate the win.

C’mon, is it really true that you only started riding dirt bikes four years ago?
It is. Literally. I was into road bikes, but then four years ago, two mates kind of lured me into having a go on a dirt bike. I felt pretty comfortable on it straight away, but didn’t think much about racing until last year, when I started doing a bit of club-level off-road racing here in Victoria with the Dandenong club. I really enjoyed that. So, I had a crack at the 2016 Golden Beach 6-Hour and then the Hattah Desert Race this year, where I ran 58th Outright. But those two were the only other endurance races I’d done before coming to the Transmoto 8-Hour.

What did you think of the 8-Hour?
Mate, it was my first Transmoto event, and I had a ball. The track was great and the atmosphere was something really special. It’s totally different to all other off-road events I’ve been to. The 8-Hour is still a race – serious for some and not so serious for others – but everyone seems to enjoy themselves the entire weekend. There’s a bigger emphasis on having fun, and riding with or against your mates.

Daniel Milner’s KTM team might have won the event Outright, but he sure paid tribute to how gutsy you Ironman guys were at Dargo.
Yeah, that was cool. I heard Daniel say that at the presentation and again on your website last week. He said something about the 8-Hour’s track and conditions being every bit as tough as an ISDE or Australian 4-Day Enduro, and that he was amazed how all the non-Pro riders in the Ironman class were so determined to finish. When I think about the fact I did 18 laps – when the winning four-rider team did 22 laps – it puts the achievement in context. But I wasn’t the only one. I think the top six Ironman riders did 17 or 18 laps at Dargo.

Seeing how gnarly that track was by the end of the eight hours, you looked remarkably fresh when you crossed the line. Did you have a body-double out there?
Nah [laughs]. I just felt great. I’ve never pulled up that fresh from a tough race, and it really surprised me. I was fresher after the 8-Hour than I was after the Golden Beach and Hattah races, so maybe I’ve learned a thing or two about pacing myself and bike set-up. Also, I had some great support in my corner at the 8-Hour, so I’m sure that helped – physically and mentally.

Kye Anderson has made some sponsorship mileage out of his Ironman wins at Transmoto’s events, so do you have plans to do the same?
Well, funnily enough, the guys from KSP Offroad [KTM dealership in Wodonga] called me in the week leading up to the 8-Hour to have a chat about maybe helping me out. I then met those KSP guys at the event, so I hope that can develop into some support for my racing next season. That’d be really cool.

That would be cool. Imagine what you could achieve with some backing, mate!
Well, getting some exposure on Transmoto’s website and social media pages sure helps, as that creates value for sponsors in return. And for a guy like me, that’s gold because other events in Oz simply don’t offer that sort of media exposure.






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