Nearing its 100th year, the event continues to be a drawcard for riders who are willing to take on the elements as well as test the limits of their bike and body.
Contested in cold, yet clear conditions in the South Australian wilderness, near Kapunda, Riley Graham became a two-timing winner with his 2022 victory in an impressive performance that sits right alongside his previous win in 2018. Behind him fellow WR450F mounted, Sean Throupe, himself a winner on three previous occasions.
At 11am on Saturday, a contingent of around 150 riders rolled out of the start shute and onto the course proper where a series of twelve check points make up one complete lap. One lap takes about six hours and that includes fuel stops and any running repairs with a total distance just under 1000 kilometres for event. Then take in the dark, the cold and the sleep deprivation and it is one tough race to contest. It’s even tougher to win.
It has been a gruelling couple of weeks for Riley Graham. Just last week he charged to a top ten finish in the Hattah Desert Race, an event that is taxing as it is enjoyable and despite some late race cramping and exhaustion he was still primed and ready to put his body and bike through another weekend of torture. Just seven days later he rolls across the finish line to take a well-earned victory in the SA 24 Hour race.
It was a hassle-free run for Graham and apart from a couple of small falls in the middle of the night, he had no issues with his bike or his body. He took control of the race right from the get-go and increased his lead with each passing lap to take a comfortable victory, the second of his career.
“I don’t have too many highlights to tell you, to be honest,” Graham declares after the race. “The bike was perfect all weekend and we did little more than throw some fuel in at each stop and give it a quick check over. So, it was just smooth sailing right the way through from the bikes point of view.
“I had a couple of crashes overnight, both just buried the front tyre in some bulldust that was hard to see in the night. Both my fault but they were pretty harmless and didn’t cost me much time. Other than some tiredness just before the sun came up, I was good and finished the last lap with good pace.
“Thanks to my crew for looking after me all weekend and everyone who put in the pre-event preparation. Its not an easy event to do but I had some great help and thankful to everyone that came out and supported me,” Graham ends.
Sean Throupe was out to rack up his fourth 24 Hour victory but came up one position short to finish second in the 2022 event behind his Yamaha counterpart. Also competing on a WR450F, Throupe slotted in behind Graham on the opening lap while he was right in the mix, he never was able to claw his way to the lead. He remained well clear of those behind him, so his second-place finish was on the cards unless and mistake came from Graham, and it never did.
“I would love to have won today but Riley was just too good and deserved his victory. I was able to sit at a comfortable pace the entire 24hours but not get close enough to him to really poor the pressure on. He just inched out his lead on each lap and didn’t make any costly mistakes that I could capitalise on., so congratulations to Riley and his team.
“We had no issues ourselves and to have two basically standard WR450F’s with big head lights go 1-2 in the event and get through with no problems at all is a huge testament to the bike and how well suited it is for Australian conditions.
“It’s a tough event to do but I always look back at it as a lot of fun. I won my first one back in 2013, so it would be nice to celebrate the 10year anniversary with another victory, so after a long sleep tonight, I might start work on the 2023 version as soon as I can,” Throupe laughs.
For more information about the SA24Hour: https://www.24hrtrial.com/