Like many red-blooded Aussie dirt bike riders, Darren Wilder had the infamous Finke Desert Race on his must-do, bucket-list. The 40th anniversary of the great race in 2015 was his target and he chose to race a Sherco 300SEF-R Racing model.
Sure, the little 300cc four-stroke might seem an odd choice for the fast desert event but Darren proved just how tough and fast this bike can be.
To minimize fuel stops a Sherco 13-litre fuel tank was fitted. StegPegz and an MSC Moto steering damper were added for rider comfort and stability. An FMF PowerCore 4 slip-on muffler was fitted for extra go and gearing was changed from the standard 13/48 to 13/46 for more top-speed.
“Perhaps a 44 rear would have been a better choice,” Darren said afterwards. “With a 44 rear sprocket I could have used 4th and 5th gear more in the heavier going and through the whoops. I believe that the FMF is as strong as the Akrapovic and it changed the bike completely. Still very smooth. It pulled a lot harder up high in the rev range. It carried me comfortably at 135km/h.”
Incredibly, Darren took to the race without even seeing he track beforehand, yet he managed to place 177th out of 600 entries and 16th in class from 50 starters.
“I fitted heavier suspension springs to cope with my weight and I was surprised by the stability of the bike despite not changing valving. I wasn’t looking for extra power and at no time did I think I would have done better on a 450. The first 6km was a drag race with a Honda 450 and we raced for a while but I got him in the end. I couldn’t believe how long the whoops went for and the amount of brutal sharp edges.
“The 300 engine is so smooth it doesn’t feel incredibly fast but it is. I’ve raced this bike in motocross and raced competitively against 450s. It’s a brilliant bike.”