[Features]

Tales from Two Transmoto 6-Hours

3 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Troy Pears, Kurt Teague

With the two 2017 Transmoto 6-Hour events on the horizon, we thought we would throw it back and take a look at last year’s most memorable vignettes.

Haphazard anecdotes and a whole lot of eye-catching imagery from two dust-drenched dedications to dirt: the Transmoto 6-Hour events at Conondale and Gunns Gully. 

If we had our way, we’d run all of our events for 12 gruelling hours. Sadly, daylight hours, local council permits and landowners don’t always see things the same way. The upshot? The recent emergence of Transmoto’s six- and eight-hour events, which have quickly proved super-popular with Pros and punters alike.
So much so that, just three weeks apart in October and November, we staged two 6-Hour events – the inaugural Transmoto 6-Hour on the rolling grass hills of Conondale in southeast Queensland’s hinterland, and the sequel to last year’s inaugural Transmoto 6-Hour at Gunns Gully in the picturesque dirt bike heartland of the Lower Hunter Valley.
In the interests of maintaining space – in the pits and on the racing loop – both events were capped at 300 entrants apiece. And here are just a few of the countless stories generated by these two pit paddocks full of dirt bike fanatics…

Conondale

A clean compound?

The one rider who suffered a serious injury at Conondale was a Kiwi called Dean Freer. Having heard from the medical team that Dean was carted away with a pretty gnarly compound fracture of his ankle, we buzzed the bloke a few days later to see how he pulled up. “Yeah, all good, bro,” Freer told us, chirpy as you like. “It was a clean break and straightforward op. Great event. Can’t wait for the next one. What date is it on next year? Hey, and thanks for the check-up call too, boys.” Not sure how ‘clean’ a compound fracture can be, but it was great to hear the guy was ready to subject himself to more punishment next year. For the record, Freer’s ‘Kiwitech Racing’ team still finished 32nd in the Pairs class.

Award Winners

Brisbane Dirt Bike Services, in recognition of the fact that, after leading the event Outright for some time, they soldiered on without complaint after a busted fork spring (of all things!) saw them slide off the podium. After salvaging a respectable fifth, the trio (Michael Marty, Pete Rab-Jones and former MX2-class MX Nationals champ, Luke Styke) were so keen to have another crack, they tried to enter the Transmoto 6-Hour at Gunns Gully three weeks hence. Sadly for them, that event had sold-out a month prior, just 12 hours after tickets went on sale.

The Primo Pit Award went to former Pro racer, Peter Spiteri, the spiritual leader of ‘Team 51’ and ‘Dominators of Team 51’ teams. Why? Let’s just say that Spiteri’s motorhome-style trailer rig folded out into what looked like a living room whose size, appointments and veranda made the average suburban house look second-rate.
The Proactive Partner Award went to first-time sponsor, Team Moto, for their relentless and creative assistance in helping us promote Transmoto’s inaugural Queensland-based event.

Since their inception in 2011, Transmoto’s events have always awarded trophies for the first mixed-gender team. At Conondale, there were actually two all-women teams: ‘All Girls’, who ran 39th in class and 68th Outright, and ‘Crème de la Femme’, who finished 56th in class and 96th Outright. The ‘All Girls’ team also ran second in the Mixed Team-of-Three class, splitting winners ‘The Bush Cats’ and third-placed ‘Team Moto Benchwarmers’.
The mid-October Transmoto 6-Hour at Conondale was the first time we held an event in Queensland, and the first time that the iconic Green Park track was used as the operational base and pit paddock for a teams-based endurance event. It was also the first time that a Transmoto event needed to be red-flagged (due to a steep section of the track becoming literally impassable). A dubious honour to hold, admittedly, but it was a situation that was professionally dealt with by the Sunshine Coast MCC. After a slick mod to the course, racing soon got underway again, with riders’ seeding based on their morning’s performance.

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Sportsmanship

At the presentation, Dudley Duffy was awarded second place in the Ironman class. All good. Everyone’s happy. Later that week, however, Duffy contacted Transmoto HQ and explained that the guy he’d pitted near, Jason Dwyer, had completed several more laps that he had, and that he’d deduced he and Dwyer (who was credited with 7th place in Ironman) may have inadvertently swapped timing transponders. In a fitting show of sportsmanship, Duffy promptly mailed the trophy to Dwyer and then insisted we alter the event’s results accordingly. Incidentally, Jason Dwyer also won Saturday’s Dunlop Tyre Changing Challenge with a cracking time of 1:06.

Dice with Price

Even during a six-hour race, there are plenty of tussles going on between riders of all abilities. But the ding-dong, back-and-forth scrap between Team KTM’s Toby Price and Team Husqvarna’s Christian Horwood was a sight to behold – Price aboard his big Dakar machine and Horwood on a new-generation, 2017-model Husky FE350. As the two weaved in and out of the creekbed and surrounding bushland, and then held it pinned around the sweeping grasstrack of Green Park, most everyone in the pits was on their feet and immersed in the bar-banging action. And at the presentation, you could overhear countless punters’ stories about how “Pricey passed me like a stream train on his Dakar bike.”

Guns Gully – Stroud

What Weather?

Talk about diametrically opposed conditions. The inaugural Transmoto 6-Hour at Gunns Gully, held in July 2015, was quite possibly the wettest event staged in Australia all year (short of the NT’s Kamfari, that is). Which is why we moved the event to November, when there’s statistically less rainfall in the region. We got less rain alright! The 2016 event was staged in 30-35º heat, bone-dry conditions, and enough dust to choke a thousand camels. The only saving grace was the gale-force winds, which meant the dust didn’t linger long. It did, however, fan the flames of the dozen bushfires burning in close proximity to the event, and ensured we kept an open line of communication with the Rural Fire Service to avoid the unpalatable idea that a valley full of people and their precious property could be incinerated if the wind were to change direction slightly.

Yogi Bears

For anyone bamboozled by the “The Land of Rainbows & Yogi Bears” jingo on the back of the Gunns Gully event’s T-shirt, look no further than Darren “Yogi” Goodwin – a local bloke who rallied a team of mates to build one of the most epic trail loops anyone had ever seen. Word, bear!

Men of Iron

Ironman-class specialist, Kye Anderson, and reigning champ of the Transmoto 6-Hour at Gunns Gully wasn’t about to repeat the physical meltdown he’d experienced three weeks prior at the Conondale 6-Hour, which he raced just hours after arriving back in Oz from his gruelling Red Bull Sea To Sky campaign in Turkey. No, this time around, the inaugural Transmoto Triple Crown winner was well hydrated, well slept and well and truly ready to rock. Anderson butchered two bikes in the process of defending his coveted Gunns Gully Ironman crown, which was his fourth Transmoto event win. That’s stamina and perseverance on a level that few people can relate to. Respect, KA.

When Darrin Strauch rolled up at sign-on and informed us that his teenage son and Pairs team partner, Luke, had (predictably) stood him up at the eleventh-hour, the 53-year-old had no choice but to race the Ironman class. “It’ll be good training for next week’s 4-Day Enduro,” he told us enthusiastically. Despite the dubious looks we’re now ashamed to have given the Queenslander, he proceeded to steadily climb his way up the standings in the Ironman class throughout the day and, after 11 gruelling laps, finished on the podium. That makes Darrin Strauch the oldest Ironman-class podium placegetter in the six-year history of Transmoto’s events. PS: You’re welcome for publicly airing you age, DS.

Award Winners

The Upbeat Team Award went to the ‘Newcastle KTM A Team’ of Myles Bowen and Ricky Kalisz, in recognition of the pair’s efforts to keep the show on the road in spite of injuries picked up early in the event. After Kalisz tore ligaments in his ankle, Bowen soldiered on – himself carrying a busted foot and a mangled thumb for three laps. Funnily enough, it was much the same story last year, when Myles’ leg injury sidelined him early in the day and left his bro, Mitch, to complete the event by himself, Ironman-style. No wonder these two Bowen boys aren’t on talking terms!
The Primo Pit Award went to Hunter Valley Motorsports who, under the cover of darkness, somehow managed to smuggle a shipping container into the event’s pit paddock. Immune to the wind that was tearing quikshades out of the parched ground left and right, the solid steel HMV structure opened up to feature a covered veranda, under which the HMV posse – led by the inimitable Phil Lovett – put their feet up and whiled away their dusty Sunday arvo. Hunter Valley gold, that!

Newcastle KTM was the obvious choice for the Proactive Partner Award because, aside from entering eight teams in the event (combined with partner dealership, Coastal Motorcycles, that is), the country’s number-one KTM dealer contributed a heap of raffle prizes and dedicated their social media channels to plugging the event for weeks. In fact, we’re thinking of appointing them as honorary event ambassadors!
Much to our dismay, there were no Mixed Team entries at Gunns Gully, so we had to get creative. And the proud recipient of the Mixed Team-of-Three trophy was the ‘Yamaha B-team’, whose Paul Dean was nominated as the token woman due to alleged bouts of cross-dressing. Thankfully, the bloke was thick-skinned and didn’t deck us as we hung the trophy around his pretty little neck.


Don’t forget, entries are currently open for the 2017 Transmoto 6-Hour @ Conondale, powered by KTM. Limited Team (of 3) spots are still available, click here for more info.

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