[KTM]

Standout Stories from Conondale’s 2019 6-Hour

4 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Donat O'Kelly

In late July, when 440 riders rocked up to the legendary Green Park for the 2019 Transmoto 6-Hour, sweet justice awaited. After three bone-dry back-to-back years, entrants in this year’s 6-Hour were treated to prime conditions, an all-new race loop and pit layout, and a weekend worth of customary good-time vibes.
So, whether you were one of the lucky participants at Green Park or not, you may have ogled over the event’s highlights video, scrutinised the results, and found yourself in the online images gallery and/or online photo library.

But what else went down at Conondale’s fourth annual running of the Transmoto 6-Hour? Here are 10 stories we reckon rate a mention.

1. ‘HOO CHI MINH’ TRAIL

A bloke call Lee Simpson might be your average, mild-mannered Nambour postman, occasionally outrunning an angry dog aboard his under-sprung CT110 on someone’s nature strip. But when you take Simpson out of letterbox suburbia and unleash him on the undulating, picturesque bushland of the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland, this mild-mannered postie morphs into an implacable, machete-wielding, trail-building fanatic.
This year, for the first time in four Transmoto 6-Hour events at the venue, the long-time Sunshine Coast Motorcycle Club member finally had prime conditions to work with, and he and his SCMCC team produced one of the best race loops a Transmoto Enduro Event has ever had. With more than 600m of elevation change, the memorable loop incorporated prime grasstrack, tricky creek-crossings, challenging hillclimbs and descents, snotty singletrack, and a strange-looking new dog’s hind leg-shaped section that ventured out to the very far side of the property. When quizzed about the aberrant addition to the 2019 6-Hour’s loop, Simpson simply offered a wink and mumbled something about the section being called the Hoo Chi Minh trail. Say no more, postman!

2. THE PLAY FOR POLE

After Saturday’s riders’ briefing and official prize raffle, the big-hitters shuffle to the front of the crowd to ensure they’re visible for the Pole Position Auction whose winner is granted a minute’s start on the field, lots of media attention, and the satisfaction of donating to a worth fundraising cause. When the bidding hits the $1500 mark, Transmoto Event Manager cum auctioneer, Red Dog Robbie Warden, cunningly suggests the two contesting bidders – Nimbin Grass-Fed Wagyu’s Trent Paola and JesseMak Fabrications’ Kieren Bellert – both tip in $1550 and share a two-minute headstart on the field. A quick nod from Paola and Bellert and the deal is done – $3100 is raised for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, and two teams will share Sunday morning’s pole position spotlight. Come Sunday, Paola goes a step further by donating his team’s pole position to three crazy cats from the ‘Fighting Mongooses’ team. For what? “For giving me some water when I was playing traffic marshal on the front gate on Saturday and parched as all, get-out,” Paola explains with laughter.

3. THE ACCIDENTAL SWIMMER

While a greater majority of Terra Australis remains in the grips of a drought, there’s always one bozo who manages to submerge his dirt bike in the one body of water deep enough to engulf it. Transmoto Course Director, Lyndon Heffernan, takes up the creek swimmer story from Conondale…
“There was a broken collarbone on the other side of the creek, so I went over to see how the guy was (he was being attended to by the event paramedics, sucking the green whistle, and all good!). While I’m there, a rider stops and says something about a dude being in the river. So I run down to the creek – which was flowing nicely, thanks to recent rain – and here’s this guy looking forlornly at his YZ250F. The water is about seat-height, so I tell the guy to sit tight while I go get a snatch strap from the trusty VW Amarok recovery vehicle. But while I’m gone, he’s decides he can get it out on the opposite bank easier than us dragging it up the near-vertical bank he had launched off. Anyway, he’s pushed it to where it was a bit shallower and it started first pop. Lucky, it was a Yamaha with the high air intake, and he rode straight out of there, albeit a lot cooler and wetter. Turns out he was negotiating a tricky little singletrack section beside the creek and got deflected by one of the slimy little tree roots that had started to appear and … exit stage right,” Heffo went on to explain.

4. THE #RIDE4LUKA SUPPORT

Formerly a mountain bike racer of some note, Ben Monroe went on to become the GM of Deus Ex Machina, before moving up to Lennox Head on the NSW north coast a couple of years ago and taking on a role in the surf industry. But for the past six months, Ben and his wife have had their lives turned upside-down after their son, Luka – an avid dirt bike rider – was diagnosed with a large malignant tumour on his kidney. Still undergoing chemotherapy after an operation to remove the tumour, Luka was too weak to attend the 6-Hour. But his old man was joined by another five teams’ worth of mates, all of whom raced under a #Ride4Luka team name. And aside from the boys all having a ball, they also did a great job or drawing attention to the fundraising efforts for Luka. We’re proud to say that more than $7500 was raised – the proceeds from the footrace entry fee and prize raffle ($4650) went to the Munroe family, while the money raised from the Pole Position Auction ($3100) went to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Get well, Luka. See you at Conondale next year, you tough little tyke.
PS: How cool was it to see Luka proudly sporting the Outright Team winner’s trophy back at home after the race?! It was kindly donated by former Pro rider, Lachy Stanford, who rode on one of the Ride4Luka teams and himself recently become a father for the first time.

5. STYKE’S #1 OBSESSION

Luke Styke is one competitive son of a bitch. He’s the only dude in Australia – and possibly the world – to have won a national supercross, motocross and enduro title. So when the reigning E1-cass champ in both the A4DE and AORC had some time to kill on Saturday arvo after sign-on, what do you think he got up to? More winning, of course! It might have taken Styke 45 minutes, but he finally reigned supreme in the Tool Store’s Leaf Blower Ping Pong Challenge (a figure-eight race with ping-pong ball propelled by a Makita leaf-blower), which meant he claimed a $300 in-store voucher at The Tool Store … and bragging rights, of sorts. Ping pong challenge win in pocket, Styke moved on to the next sponsor challenge. Then the next. Pretty much the only comp he didn’t win all day was the Dunlop Tyre Toss, which was claimed by a burly dude about twice Styke’s dimensions. For the record, Styke – who was hanging it out on the 6-Hour track like a world championship was a stake – was narrowly bettered for fastest lap time by some bloke on a KTM called Daniel Milner.

6. JUNIORS IN WORLD-CLASS COMPANY

Imagine that you’re pint-sized moto frother and that you’re not only given the chance to ride around Conondale’s infamous Green Park circuit, but also have reigning ISDE, AORC, A4DE and Hattah Desert Race champ, Daniel Milner, on hand to add to your experience. Well, that’s exactly how 15 nine through 15-year-olds spent their Saturday arvo at Conondale; talking about body positioning, line selection and bike set-up with KTM’s Daniel Milner. “Mate, I was a pretty average rider when I was young, but I always had Pro riders who I looked up to as my heroes back then,” Milner explained, as he posed for a group photo with the group of groms. “So it’s pretty cool to think that I’m now in a position to give back to the next generation of riders coming through; to give them some advice, help steer them in the right direction, and remind them of the importance of always enjoying themselves on the bike.”

7. DIRT BIKE RUT LIMBO

When it comes to dirt bikes, is there anything better than railing a rut and dragging your bars in the process? No, there is not. Unless you ask your knees that question, that is. Which is why we took the idea of a Saturday arvo dirt bike rut limbo comp to the boys from POD Active – the Aussie company who are now the world’s biggest kneebrace brand. And they jumped at. We flicked them a link to the YouTube video, where we’d shamelessly poached the idea. And based on that footage, they knocked up a fancy-looking limbo bar set-up, complete with calibrated height measurements and signage; the whole shebang. And with that, the POD Dirt Bike Rut Limbo showdown was born. More than 20 riders signed up as two-wheeled limbo guinea pigs and, though an elimination system, we whittled the group down to a two-man showdown between brothers, Harry and Ben Teed. Much to Harry’s disgust, his younger bro took the honours, and the new pair of POD K4 kneebraces that came with the inaugural Limbo King title.

8. WISE WIZARDS ON A ROLL

When the Wise Wizard team trio of Geoff Ballad, Brad Williscroft, and Matt Dymock ran ninth Outright at Nabiac’s Transmoto 6-Hour back in May, it was the talk of the town. People wondered how the hell a team with an average age of at least 50 managed to do so well on that track’s brutal sandy whoops. Well, galvanised by that experience, GB’s ‘MXstore Express’ trio rocked up at Conondale and upstaged themselves. The boys ran seventh Outright and third in the Teams class. But it didn’t come without a ding-dong battle with a few other big-name wizards from yesteryear, especially the ‘MX Legends & Tam’ team of Dave “Party Boy” Armstrong, James Deakin and Tam Paul. Not that these old boys are still competitive or anything!

9. WHATEVER IT TAKES TO FINISH

Alex Ball was one of 15 Ironman riders, and the 6-Hour was his first crack in the solo-rider class. So when he rolled up to the event’s HQ early on Sunday arvo with a sob story about his bike not running properly and looking to hand his transponder back, we weren’t about to let him hoist the white flag, and we rallied to find him a solution. Within minutes, the MPE Husqvarna crew came to the rescue with a fresh spark plug, which seemed to rectify the intermittent problem with Ball’s 2017-model KTM 500EXC-F. Then, when his 500 stopped again a lap or two later, Ball tried to return his transponder a second time. No dice, bro; we still wouldn’t accept it. Instead, we hunted around the pits and found the frustrated Ironman a loaner bike – a 2005 WR450F owned by a former Sunshine Coast MCC president. Ball finished the lap, finished the six hours and, despite things not going his way for most of the day, he was recorded as an Ironman-class finisher (he ran 14th in class). He even hung around for the presentation, where he scored the Hard Luck Award trophy.
“It turns out the problem was an intermittent issue with my 500’s fuel pump, which fixed itself when the bike cooled down,” Ball told Transmoto a week after the event. “So it had nothing to do with the spark plug after all; it was just a buggered fuel pump, which is fair enough as the bike had 220 hours’ run-time on it. It was an ‘interesting’ final lap on that old WR-F, but it was really generous for that guy to lend it to me as it allowed me to complete the race. That night, my bloody ute wouldn’t start and I got stuck at the venue until 8pm. Electrical fault, apparently. It just wasn’t my day, but I still had a heap of fun and will be back – probably on a team – at next year’s 6-Hour for sure,” Ball went on to explain.

10. THREE PLUCKY PAIRS

There’s no secret of the fact that the odd Pro rider has a crack at Transmoto’s events. And why wouldn’t they? It’s the only event all year they get back to their roots and race for fun; the only event where they can enjoy a quiet Saturday-night beer, team up with their mates and not give a rat’s arse about where they finish in the race. And that’s precisely why a bunch of ‘name’ Pro off-roaders (such as Daniel Milner, Fraser Higlett, Lachy Stanford, Brad Hardaker, et al) finished absolutely nowhere at this year’s 6-Hour. They were too busy having fun to worry about winning. All of which paved the way for three Queensland-based Pairs teams – Three Years Straight’s Jack Judge and Ritchie Leech, KTM Construction Team’s Adam Martin and John Hobson, and The Comeback Kids’ Joel Phillips and Michael Fehlhaber – to clean-sweep the Pairs class and Outright podium. Nice work, lads. We like nothing more to see amateur riders on the podium.


More From the 6-Hour @ Conondale

TRANSMOTO 6-HOUR @ CONONDALE: RESULTS

TRANSMOTO 6-HOUR @ CONONDALE: PHOTOS OF YOU

TRANSMOTO 6-HOUR @ CONONDALE: HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO

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