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Jesse Moore and Scott Madden do Moree proud at Finke 2016

Words and photo: Bill Poulos

MOREE motocross riders Jesse Moore and Scott Madden recently returned home from competing in the Tatts Finke desert race in the Northern Territory – and both riders recorded impressive, career-best finishes in their respective classes in a race that drew more than 500 competitors from across the globe.

Finke has long been regarded as the most difficult off-road, multi-terrain course for bikes, cars, buggies and quads in the world.

Moore and Madden trekked 3000km to Alice Springs in late May to give themselves ample time to prepare for the 41st running of the gruelling event, and they did themselves and their hometown proud.

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Jesse Moore (standing) and Scott Madden competed against the best on offer at the recent Tatts Finke desert race in the Northern Territory.

Moore, 21, finished 36th outright and 15th in class and Madden was 26th in class and 184th outright.

It was just Moore’s second attempt at Finke and the third for 28-year-old Madden – and both vow they’ll be back next year to do it all again.

Madden, who works in sales and spare parts at Thomas-Lee Motorcycles in Moree when not trekking to the top-end, has been riding competitively for about 10 years.

He has taken on Finke three years running and has no plan to stop the annual pilgrimage any time soon.

“It’s just a whole different place up there, and you just want to keep going back – I’ll go back every year I can,” Madden said.

“A mate of mine, Rusty Bell, talked me into doing it the first time and last year I didn’t finish the race – the bike played up 80km from the finish.

“There were a few little dramas this year but nothing to make me pull out of the race,” he said.

Moore is an A-grade rider on the local motocross circuit and was having just his second attempt at Finke.

Finishing in the top-40 in a competition that clocked on more than 500 competitors – and 15th in his 120-strong class –  is easily a personal best at senior level.

Moore, who recently completed his apprenticeship at Thomas-Lee and is now a qualified mechanic, rates his effort as his best performance so far.

“Finke is definitely the highlight of my career, but just being able to go riding each weekend is the best win you can have,” Moore said.

“I got into riding motocross with I was 16 and only started doing enduro the last few years – about the time I began working at Thomas-Lee.”

Moore said Finke, first held in 1976, was set against a backdrop of incredible desert country in one of the most remote places in the world.

“The countryside up there is pretty awesome – it’s completely different to what we see around here,” he said.

“It’s just dead flat with nothing at all as far as you can see.”

Moore rode a  KTM 450 SX-F while Madden was aboard a KTM 500 EXC – and both bikes did the job in tradesman-like style.

“We can’t complain at all with how the bikes performed –  they did the job well,” Moore said.

Traditionally held each June long weekend, Finke takes competitors on a 226km journey through desert country from Alice Springs to the remote indigenous community, Aputula, to the south – and back again.

The Aputula community was known as Finke until the 1980s – named after the usually dry Finke River a few kilometres away –  and now the race that bears its name has become the number one must-do event on every serious off-roader’s bucket list.

The race is run along sections of what was originally the old Ghan railway service line – a winding corrugated track that snakes through a typical outback terrain that comprises red dirt, sand, spinifex, mulga and desert oak.

Finke Desert Race Club president Antony Yoffa congratulated Kings of the Desert Glen Owen and Mathew Ryan in the car division and Toby Price in the bike division.

It was Price’s third win in as many years and the subject of a recent 60 Minutes report.

“All were very humble in acknowledging their respective wins and this only enhances their reputation as true champions,” Yoffa said in a recent media statement.

Moore and Madden, sponsored this year by Crowe Family Partnership, McDonalds Moree, Air Cair Aviation, Rob Kemp Land Forming, GJW Field Services, South Moree Butchery, Thomas-Lee Motorcycles and Funnel Web Filters, both agree that Finke is an experience they won’t forget in a hurry.

“If we can get the same sort of sponsorship, we’ll go again next year for sure,” Moore said.

“We had a lot of help this year, which we are forever grateful for – our sponsors made it so much easier for us to be able to afford the trip,” he said.

Copyright 2016