Husqvarna privateer Mitch Harper proved to be untouchable during the inaugural running of the New Holland Agricultural Clipsal 500 Adelaide EnduroX Cup presented by Monster Energy held as part of the Clipsal500 V8 Supercar festivities on Saturday the 5th of March.
In sweltering conditions, riders took to the man made, technical EnduroX track twice during the heat of the day to thrill spectators during their two practice sessions, with American “WILD” Wally Palmer living up to his name and giving the large enthusiastic crowd on hand plenty to cheer about.
Another big fan favourite both on and off track during the day was 2016 Dakar Rally winner Toby Price who spent the day not only signing autographs and posing for 1000’s of photos for eager Clipsal race fans, but also but also spent the day jumping between his moto gear and race suit as he doubled up to race both the Enduro-X and the Trophy Truck event on the streets of Adelaide..
Despite some heavy contact with one of Adelaide’s many concrete walls while leading Friday’s Trophy Truck race, Price showed he was suffering no ill effects from the bingle, rebounding with a second place finish in Saturday’s Truck race , before once again gearing up and setting the fastest lap during the Superpole session when the main action in the Traction Zone got underway just after 6pm as the hot Adelaide sun started to set.
While Redbull KTM’s Price was able to set the best single lap time, he was unable to match Mitch Harper’s speed and consistency in the Man V Man shootout final, with Harper picking up a cool $1500 for his winning effort in front of a vocal crowd.
One rider who was not able to show his full potential during the Shootout was Friday’s event standout Dylan Rees after the veteran rider crashed at the begging of his one on one race against Harper. Unfortunately for the Yamaha privateer who won two of the three races held the day prior he was ruled out of the remainder of Saturday evenings event.
When the three race back to back race main event kicked off, it was Harper who launched out of the gates and quickly took control of the opening race, leading from start to finish, leading home a hard charging Price, with Penrite Honda’s Peter Boyle in thrid and Beta Motorcycles backed Trevor Campbell in a fine fourth place.
Harper was not able to get the jump on the field in race two but quickly made his way to the race lead and once again checked out to record a 10 second win ahead of Husqvarna Australia’s Lachlan Stanford who recovered from a 7th place finish in the opening race. Boyle scored his second straight thrid place result, with Price 4th.
In the final race of the evening it was “WILD” Wally Palmer that jumped out front alongside Harper as the two riders went toe to toe for the opening lap until Palmer once again bought the crowd to their feet as he launched his bike over one of the log pile mounds landing in the rock garden before launching off the side of the second log pile. The American as he had done for the entire event, remounted his 250 two stroke and continued to thrill race fans.
Once again Harper was left to his own up front and though Price was able to close in during the final stages of the race, Harper crossed the line in first place to take a clean sweep for the evening and was rewarded with $5000 for his efforts and the title as the first ever winner of the New Holland AG Clipsal500 Enduro-X Cup.
“The plan worked tonight, I got good starts and got away from all the carnage around the first turn filled with logs,” Harper explained. “After that I just built a bit of a lead then backed off to save some energy as we only had five minutes between each of the back to back races.
“There was not much time between each race, the heart rate was up and it was hard to breath in this heat but I could see everyone else was also getting tired.
“I got a good jump out of the gate in the first one but was back a little bit in the final two races. I just held it wide open in the log pit to get the lead out of the first corner in those two races, but the Husqvarna 350FE definitely got out of the gates well and was so smooth off the line which certainly helped make things pay off.
“We have a couple more races tomorrow and hopefully that all goes well. After that I am not sure what the plans are for the upcoming AORC series hopefully a team can come to the party and hopefully this race and results pricks some ears up a little.” A smiling and very happy Harper concluded.
Price’s second place finish in the final race was enough to see him secure second overall, while Stanford raced through to third position in the final moto to claim third overall on count-back after himself and Boyle were tied on 56 points each.
Smith Brothers Racing’s Jacob Smith rounded out the top five aboard his Honda Australia backed CRF450, while KTM Privateer Ivan Long lead the way for the local riders finishing in 6th position.
Riders will return to the track for two final one off races today, Sunday the 6th of March and with $1200 up for grabs in both races for the race winner there is sure to be some more tough, close racing to be witnessed at 10am and 2pm.
NEW HOLLAND CLIPSAL500 ENDURO-X SATURDAY OVERALL RESULTS 1. Mitch Harper – 75 Pts 2. Toby Price – 62 Pts 3. Lachlan Stanford 56 Pts 4. Peter Boyle – 56 Pts 5. Jacob Smith – 47 Pts 6. Ivan Long – 42 Pts 7. Trevor Campbell – 36 Pts 8. Skipp Rothe – 26 Pts 9. Wally Palmer – 15 Pts
Top Image: Mitch Harper crosses the line to take his third straight race win and the 2016 New Holland AG, Clipsal500 Enduro-X Cup win.
Credit: Aaryn Minerds