Keith Stanford a serious contendor
Friday, 25th June, 2010
He may only compete for laughs but local motocross rider Keith Stanford has had a seriously good result in the recent Finke Desert Race.
Competing in his fourth "Finke", the 22-year-old, riding a 2008 Honda CRF450R, finished an impressive 24th in his class and 40th overall - by far his best ever result.
More than 500 riders and drivers took part in this year's race, described as the toughest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Over two days and following the Old Ghan Railway track, competitors raced 230km from Alice Springs to the small town of Finke and back again.
Its reputation as a tough event is justified, according to Stanford, who said several riders suffered broken arms and legs during the pre-race prologue stage.
Stanford, who reached speeds of 170km/h during the race which was held over the June long weekend, completed the first day in just over 2hrs and 43min.
His return trip was even faster, taking just over 2hrs 39min to return to Alice Springs, for a total time of 5hrs 23min, or 1hr 20min behind overall winner, Toby Price from Singleton.
He put his good performance down to a "well-prepared" new bike.
The result is even more impressive given his rather casual approach to the sport. The diesel mechanic's last competition race before entering the Finke was back in September last year at Mildura.
But Stanford, who achieved his goal of finishing in the top 50, is serious about not taking racing "too seriously".
Among other reasons, he says that it ensures he never gets too disappointed with his results.
So he hasn't set the bar too high next year when he will compete in his fifth Finke with his father, Mark, who acted as crew chief and refueller for his son this year.
"We'll see how we go. I'm not going to make any promises just yet," said Stanford, who had some help making it to the race.
"I'd like to thank all the sponsors who helped out this year."
Another local who competed in the event, Scott Dalby, said his team overcame an early setback to finish 14th in the pro-buggy class.
Dalby and partner James Madden of Razorback Racing were last out of 94 competitors to begin the race, after their buggy broke a CV.
The team still managed to finish 14th in their class and 27th overall, in a time of 4hrs 13min, just outside their target time of less than four hours.
"A flat rear tyre added another 10 minutes onto the return time," said Dalby.