KTM’s 2019 Finke Roster
Having broken the longstanding record for most Finke Desert Race wins last year, Toby Price fans will be disappointed to hear that their mulleted-man won’t be on the starting line at Alice Spring this June in a bid to rack up his seventh King of the Desert crown. Last week, the two-time Dakar champ’s management released a statement to confirm that, “Toby has announced that he will race in the Truck Category of the 2019 Finke Desert Race … but will sit out the two-wheeled category this year, deciding to play it safe and focus on protecting his wrist following surgery, where a part of Toby’s hip was grafted onto his scaphoid to repair the damage from an injury aggravated during his winning ride at this year’s Dakar Rally”.
But Pricey absence doesn’t mean all is lost for KTM’s official Finke team – an outfit that has won Finke Outright in 8 of the past 10 Finke races – as this week’s PR from KTM Australia confirmed…
A new-look North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team will field David Walsh and Callum Norton in the 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race, due to be held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend on June 7-10. After finishing second last year as part of an all-KTM podium behind six-time winner Toby Price, Alice Springs local Walsh will spearhead the Austrian manufacturer’s official squad aboard the KTM 500EXC-F in this year’s edition. He’s a proven consistent podium threat who will be in the frame to challenge for a first Finke victory in 2019.
As for Norton, 18, the talented Victorian joins the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team in what will be his second attempt at the Finke Desert Race. He will be equipped with a KTM 450EXC-F as he primarily targets class honours in the 251-450cc 4-Stroke division. Norton will also contest the prestigious Hattah Desert Race on July 5-7. The high-profile Finke Desert Race is recognised as one of the most important desert races globally, an event that sees entrants contest a decisive qualifying prologue and then navigate the gruelling 480-kilometre distance between Alice Springs and Finke in what is an intense high-speed test of both rider and machine. Both 29-year-old Walsh and team newcomer Norton will spend no less than four weeks of vital pre-running in the Northern Territory prior to the race weekend, logging 7000-10,000km each with the factory North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team.
Glenn Kearney – Motorsport Manager, KTM Australia: “We’re excited to be entering the Finke Desert Race again to defend KTM’s title up there. The North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team will have David Walsh on the race-proven KTM 500EXC-F, plus we have brought on Callum Norton on the KTM 450EXC-F to cover two categories in 2019. Walsh is obviously very competitive in the desert and has achieved multiple podiums in the Finke event, while Norton has shown great potential in the desert and he’ll be able to ride under the guidance of David. After such a successful event last year in which KTM went 1-2-3 on the Overall podium, we will be doing all we can with our team partners to deliver a strong result again over the long weekend in June.”
David Walsh – KTM 500EXC-F: “It’s great to be back with the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team for 2019 and to be riding the KTM 500EXC-F once again. The bike’s results over the years speak for themselves; it’s such a good thing to ride and the entire team works around the clock to ensure we’re competing at 100 percent. I already can’t wait for the event and to see if we can go one better than last year. Pre-running has been a success again in the lead-up to Finke 2019. It’s quite a lot of preparation and obviously a real benefit for us.”
Callum Norton – KTM 450EXC-F: “I’m really stoked to have this opportunity with the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team. I really enjoy desert racing and it’s a great achievement for me to be joining KTM Australia’s factory team. To be teammates with David Walsh is unreal. He is a guy who I have looked up to for a long time now and I’m already learning a lot from him. We have been pre-running the Finke track with lots of kilometres down and back and I am really comfortable on the KTM 450EXC-F, so I just can’t wait to get to the race weekend. It’s been a great experience already working with Glenn and everybody from KTM – everything that I expected and more so far. I’m also excited about Hattah later in the year as well. It’s one of my favourite events and definitely a major race for me on the calendar alongside Finke.”