Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Race Is Torture but Ellyse Wants More DESERT QUEEN; Rocky Rider Claims Piece of Finke History

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Race Is Torture but Ellyse Wants More DESERT QUEEN; Rocky Rider Claims Piece of Finke History

Article excerpt

Byline: Pam McKay pam.mckay@capnews.com.au

MOTOR SPORT: Her badly blistered hands are slowly healing but the memories of her first Tatts Finke Desert Race will live on for Ellyse O'Connor - and for good reason.

The Rockhampton rider etched her name into the history books by winning the inaugural Kay Wharton Fastest Female Category in the 2018 staging of the gruelling off-road challenge.

O'Connor overcame the blinding dust, testing terrain and a series of crashes to lead home the 15 female competitors and finish 291st in the 650-strong field of bikes.

Fellow Rocky riders Beau Dargel and Brodie Crane also shone on the Northern Territory circuit, finishing 11th and 15th respectively in the overall standings.

The iconic Finke Desert Race is recognised as one of the most difficult courses in one of the most remote places in the world and O'Connor said it certainly lived up to its reputation.

"It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever done," the experienced motocross specialist said.

"Just to finish the race is a feat in itself. When I crossed the line and they told me I'd won (the female category) it was just amazing.

"I definitely went there wanting to be the fastest woman and to finish in the top 200.

"I really want to go back now and try to crack the 200, if not the 150. I know I can do it and next time around I'll be better prepared and know just what I'm in for.

"On the drive home I was thinking about all the little things I could do better, even though when I was racing I kept saying to myself that I never wanted to see that place again."

O'Connor completed the 450km round trip from Alice Springs to the small Aputula (Finke) community in a time of three hours and 41 minutes on her Yamaha YZ250F.

The 29-year-old said she was not feeling overly confident after qualifying in 441st position. …

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