Stokie Stamps his name in Finke History
It had been a long time between blue drinks in the desert up until last weekend’s 2017 Finke Desert race. Despite an injured hand, Active8 Yamalube Yamaha’s Daymon Stokie brought home the boys in blue their first Finke victory in 30 years – the first since Stephen Gall way back in 1986. But it wasn’t just a big victory for Yamaha on two wheels, they also took home the ‘W’ on four wheels in the UTV and ATV divisions. Read the full press release from Yamaha below…
Active8 Yamalube Yamaha’s Daymon Stokie has won a dramatic 2017 Finke Desert race, held in remote desert in the Northern Territory. In four hours and 11 minutes, Stolkie etched his name in the record books with a historic win, Yamaha’s first since 1986 when Stephen Gall claimed victory.
The event started well for Stokie, a resident of Alice Springs, when he posted the second best time in the prologue giving a great starting position for the trek down to Finke on day one. Despite carrying a hand injury from a previous endurance event, Stokie gritted his teeth and manned up in the country’s toughest race to reach Finke in second place and five minutes behind leader, David Walsh. With a nights-rest and a quick going over of the bike, Stokie was back in the saddle for the return run and out to close down the lead Walsh had. But just as the riders neared the first checkpoint of the return leg, Walsh was stranded trackside and Stoke inherited the lead. But with a hand swelling by the minute and still over 90 minutes of racing left, the 2017 Finke race winner was far from settled.
The dry conditions made the going challenging but Stokie stuck to his guns and continued to ride at speed with his grip on the bike weakening as the event wore on. His rivals started to close in but the North Territory native was determined to close the race out a winner and charged all the way to the finish line.
He stopped the clock at 4-hours 11-minutes, to take a narrow three-minute victory over Ivan Long in second and Luke Hayes in third, with just 30 seconds separating the minor placings.
The Active8 Yamalube Yamaha team embraced as they celebrated the win in what has been a long and challenging campaign.
“It’s been an unbelievable couple of days,” exclaims Stokie moments after he crossed the finish line. “The lead up to the event has been tough on the team with Beau Ralston hurting himself and then Josh Green having to pull out yesterday so it was a huge relief to get the win and reward the team for a massive effort. “I knew catching David was a tough ask but sometimes things go your way and we got a little lucky with that but that’s the way it goes at Finke, it just isn’t an easy race to win.
“A huge thank you to everyone at Yamaha and the Active8 Yamaha team for their support and belief in my this year. I was brought in for events like this so it is an awesome feeling to do exactly as we set out to do. “The WR500F was perfect from start to finish and the team did a great job with testing and the bike. Also, thank you to my friends and family who continue to support me each and every year and it’s great to have them all here with me on such a successful weekend,” Stokie ends.
As mentioned, the news wasn’t as good for his teammate, Josh Green, who had to withdraw from the event during the final stages of day one. Green started the event exceptionally well and had moved into a podium position when he had a mechanical issue that forced him out of the race. “It can be an emotionally challenging race here at Finke as it requires so much effort to be able to compete at this level, on this sort of terrain so to not be able to finish is heartbreaking for myself and the team,” Green explains. “The Active8 Yamaha team put in so much effort for this race so we are all naturally disappointed not to get the result we both wanted or expected. “But it’s awesome that Daymon was able to fly the team flag and get the job done for us. Congratulations to him and he deserved this win as it has been a long time coming for him,” Green said.
The Finke Desert Race is a gruelling event that is fast, frightening and not for the faint-hearted. Competitors unleash their high horse-powered machines down the 200-kilometre journey from Alice Springs to Finke in just under two hours before returning to Alice Springs the following day. Riders hit speeds over 170 km/h as they skim across the dry desert and rolling sand whoops that are just waiting to catch out unsuspecting riders.
It has the well-earned reputation of being the hardest event in the off-road calendar and its profile continues to grow as riders and teams try to conquer the old railway track that runs between Alice Springs and Finke. “I have been to Finke a lot of times and it’s nice to finally win one,” states Active8 Yamaha Manager, AJ Roberts. “It is a race that just punishes your mind, body and bike and to win it takes a lot of heart, courage and support from a lot of people. “To see Daymon hit the finish line first and take the race win was a great moment for everyone involved with the team, from Ray and Kevin back at Yamaha in Brisbane to the guys we have out here who haven’t had much sleep over the past week. “We are pumped and will celebrate this one long and hard tonight,” AJ ends.
2017 Finke Desert Race Motorcycle Results
1st Daymon Stokie – 4: 11.12.5 (Yamaha WR500F)
2nd Ivan Long – 4:15.07.0
3rd Luke Hayes – 4:15.38.1
4th Kent Collins – 4:24.02.0
5th Sam Davie – 4:26.54.7
Not only did Yamaha claim the top spot in the motorcycle division with Daymon Stokie winning the prestigious off-road event, Yamaha also did exceptionally well in other racing categories contested over the weekend in a strong showing for Yamaha racing in the great Australian outback.
Yamaha and the YXZ1000R dominated the Under 1200cc UTV division taking the top five positions in a complete sweep of the class, while it was an all blue podium in the ATV section with Yamaha-mounted riders taking the top three positions. The Yamaha Motor Australia/ WPS team of Jake and Aiden Williams took the race win after an eventful two days out in the Northern Territory wilderness. On day one, the boys had some difficulties and made to Finke in fifth place but were confident of a better showing on the return run back to Alice Springs the following day. And that’s exactly what happened. The brothers unleashed a blistering return time to not only make up the 14-minute deficit from day one but blast their way into the lead and take the race win by just over a minute in an amazing comeback drive from the Williams brothers. “That was insane,” said Jake Williams as he climbs out behind the steering wheel of the YXZ1000R. “I knew we had a big gap to make up and we just went for it thinking we had nothing to lose. We started passing a couple of people and then we hit the lead and we are just pumped to bring it home. “The YXZ1000R was unreal to drive and we gave it heaps over the past couple of days. “Thank you to everyone in the Yamaha Motor Australia/ WPS team, my brother Aiden and all our friends and family that came out to support us. We have had an awesome time,” Williams ends.
Taking second place was fellow YXZ team of Bryce Washington and Garry Connell. The team put in a huge effort and if not for the heroics of the Williams team on the final day, they would have claimed victory in the class.
Third place was another family affair with Bailey Motorsport with Roydn and Hannah Bailey at the controls. The duo put in a consistent two days of driving to snatch the final podium spot.Just behind them were Daniel Mackenzie and Garth Hannaford who steamed home on day two to come up just 17 seconds short of the podium after six hours of racing. Taking fifth was Kaos racing with Damien Nash, Alex Turner and Wayne Gailes behind the wheel and locking Yamaha in as the top five UTV’s in class.
The ATV division shared a similar dominance and this time, the dominance was shared between the Yamaha YFZ450R and the Van Vliet Brothers in a top podium sweep. Mitchell Van Vliet took the race win and led from start to finish. He cleared out to a comfortable gap on the run down to Finke and then continued to pile on the pressure on the return run to take the victory, seven minutes clear of his brother, Jake. Jake then held a 20-minute margin back to Cooper Van Vliet who took third.
So, it was a Van Vliet/ Yamaha YFZ450R podium sweep and with Mitchell holding the bragging rights until the brothers line up again in next years’ event. “It is cool to take the race win at such a prestigious event but even better when you share the entire podium with your brothers,” Mitchell declares. “Things went pretty smoothly for all of us, possibly the best issue was dealing with the dust but that’s how it is when you race in the desert. “Thank you to Yamaha and all our team sponsors and supporters. It’s been a huge week up here and its great the whole family achieved some success,” he ends.
The Finke Desert Race is a long-standing and high profile event that sees competitors on bikes, ATVs and Buggy’s charge down a 200-kilometre course that runs between Alice Springs and the small outback town of Finke. After a freshen up, the charge is back on to return to Alice Springs. The fastest bikes take around four hours to complete the course and reach speeds of 170 kilometres an hour while the ATV’s and UTV take around six hours. It is a tough and challenging race on the riders, drivers and machinery and definitely not for the faint-hearted.
2017 FINKE UTV/ATV Results
Superlite Under 1200cc
1st Jake Williams / Aiden Williams – Yamaha YXZ1000R (YMA / WPS)
2nd Bryce Washington / Garry Connell – Yamaha YXZ1000R (Harrow Racing)
3rd Roydn Bailey / Hannah Bailey – Yamaha YXZ1000R (Bailey Motorsport)
4th Dan Mckenzie / Garth Hannaford – Yamaha YXZ1000R (YMA Racing)
5th Damien Nash / Alex Turner / Wayne Gailes – Yamaha YXZ1000R (Kayos racing)
1st Mitchell Van Vliet – Yamaha YFZ450R
2nd Jake Van Vliet – Yamaha YFZ450R
3rd Cooper Van Vliet – Yamaha YFZ450R
For more information visit www.finkedesertrace.com.au