KTM Australia’s motorsport manager Glenn Kearney has praised the efforts of Callum Norton in his 2019 Tatts Finke Desert Race campaign, as the youthful talent gritted his way to fifth following a heavy crash just moments into the final day of racing.
In what was an incredible weekend for the North Star Pastoral KTM Desert Racing Team with David Walsh earning his maiden Finke crown, Kearney has highlighted Norton’s determined display of riding, declaring he has a big future with the Austrian manufacturer after his first appearance with the factory squad.
“It could’ve been quite easy for Callum to give up down there after a big spill, knowing he had a gruelling 220 kilometres ahead of him, but he managed to come back through and make his way to fifth,” Kearney explained.
“It shows what he’s made of and I think the kid has a big future with KTM. The team this week featured 28 staff members who all come from within the brand, so it’s a big crew that comes together to make it happen. To have Callum show true grit and determination and Walshy earn the win, it’s definitely rewarding.”
The 18-year-old prologued in P13, however made quick work of the field in Saturday’s race to Finke, overcoming a number of riders in the early stages to arrive in fourth. Despite losing significant ground in his high-speed crash while returning to Alice Springs, the Victorian regained lost positions to salvage a top five placing – a career-best result.
“A silly crash just two or three minutes out of Finke cost me this weekend and bit me hard, everything was hurting pretty bad, so I just had a breather there before getting going again,” said Norton. “Straight away I thought it was over, but once I got to the next stop the boys told me I wasn’t too far behind, so that gave me a boost.
“I just kept pushing on, started seeing dust and every time I saw dust, I got excited again. I was sore as hell, but I just kept pushing to get it home so I could rest up. I crossed the line fifth, which was good. I’m pretty happy with it, considering what happened.”
Local hero Walsh dominated the 2019 edition of Finke, topping prologue before entering Finke fastest, returning home first to claim an emotional victory. He was joined on the podium by Schwarz Husqvarna Desert Team duo Jacob Smith and Beau Ralston.