Motul Pirelli Sherco Race Team’s Callum Norton textbook preparation for the 2022 Finke Desert Race in the Northern Territory has ended in anguish, with a technical issue on the 500 SEF Factory forcing him out of the June 11-12 race on day one.
Norton, 21, began proceedings with a solid seventh place finish in Saturday’s prologue, and was as high as fifth on the 230km run to Finke when his campaign evaporated around the 170km mark.
It was a bitter end to an extremely promising Finke build-up for Callum, which included lightning fast shakedown runs that – replicated in the main race – would have seen him pushing for a spot on the podium.
However, the sometimes bruising nature of motorsport meant that it wasn’t to be – but the Victorian remains philosophical about what transpired.
“Motorsport can certainly bite you in the bum, and this was one of those occasions,” said Callum.
“After I got up to fifth place around the halfway mark, at the next fuel stop I struggled to get the bike started. I ended up bump starting it, and then around the 160km mark I realised something wasn’t quite right.
“I continued for about another 10km before deciding to pull over when it was labouring under power. That was it for me, and I ended up getting a lift back into Finke with (fellow Sherco rider) Ryan Cossens’ dad.
“It’s a disappointing result after all the hard work the team had put in, but you have to take the positives out of it – and one of those is that my speed was strong and I know that I’ll come back and give the Finke a shake next year and beyond.”
Callum is now looking ahead to the second showpiece event on the open-terrain calendar: the Hattah Desert Race from July 1-3, where will be joined by fellow Motul Pirelli Sherco Race Team rider Jonte Reynders (450 SEF Factory).
Meanwhile, Alice Springs sharp-shooter David Walsh won Finke for the third time in succession in a new race record of three hours, 35 minutes and 48 seconds (3:35:48) – obliterating the former benchmark held by Toby Price (3:46:55).
Four other riders also eclipsed Price’s old record, with Jacob Smith (3:38:09) finishing in second ahead of Jack Simpson (3:38:52), Korey McMahon (3:42:42) and former road racing gun Brodie Waters (3:42:50).
Cossens (4:07:19) was the first Sherco rider home, in 17th overall on his Tweaked Performance 500 SEF Factory.
In the car division, Price was the victor in his fire-breathing Mitsubishi.
for the 2022 Finke Desert Race results.Photos: 1 Shot Media