The Motul Pirelli Sherco Factory Team took to the 2016 Hattah Desert Race with Under-19 Class rider Wil Ruprecht aboard a Sherco 450SEF-R. The young rising talent was in the mix with a hot-bed of talent but put his best foot forward to prologue in 22nd position outright and third in the Under-19 class. Starting in 22nd position in a field of 365 is an advantageous beginning for a gruelling 8-lap race of a 38km course.
All hopes were pinned on Ruprecht for a strong result with the Team’s stocks depleted due to injury and he didn’t disappoint. In what has been widely regarded as the toughest Hattah Desert Race on record, Ruprecht moved into the class lead in the early stages of the race and remained strong to take the win and move into 20th position overall.
“What a race,” Ruprecht stated after stepping off the bike. “The first lap was buck wild. It was crazy with bikes going everywhere. The sand blasting from the bikes in front was painful and then on the fast straights the roost really hurt.
“The track got so rough it was really physically demanding. I’m just grateful Dave Suter built me such a strong bike. The 450 was awesome. We used a two-lap pit stop plan with the larger fuel tank and it worked well. I’m really tired but gee, it feels good to win and crack the top 20 outright.”
Ruprecht’s class win was hard fought and showed the young rider from Taree, NSW, has a bright future.
“It was a great effort by Wil,” said Sherco Australia’s Stephen Tuff. “The Team was down in numbers with Justin Carafa and Sam Davie still recovering from recent injuries so we had all out hopes riding with Wil. We knew the 450SEF-R was up to the task and Wil showed maturity and grit to stay strong and push when things became challenging in the late stages of the race. For the team, this is a great win. We’ve had a challenging year to date and this is a fantastic result on a big stage.”
The Motul Pirelli Sherco Factory Team will now focus its attention on preparing for rounds 7 & 8 of the Australian Off-Road Championship at Hedley, in southern Victoria on July 23/24 where Justin Carafa will make his return to racing. Wil Ruprecht currently sits second in the Under-19 class in the AORC and is well within striking distance of the championship point’s lead.