Finke tightens entry rules after fatality

Organisers of the Finke Desert Race have tightened the entry requirements in response to the crash that killed a spectator at this year's event.

The 2021 running of the famous Australian desert race ended in tragedy when a spectator was struck and killed by a car that left the track on the return leg from Aputula to Alice Springs.

In response to the accident Finke organisers, along with sanctioning partners Motorsport Australia (Cars) and Motorcycling Australia (Bikes), have set out new entry requirements.

For the Cars category, crews must have either competed in at least two Australian Off Road Championship rounds in the past two years, scored points in the previous AORC season, or score 100 points on an entry checklist.

The checklist scoring system is 50 points per Finke competed in during the last five years, 25 points per AORC event competed in doing the last five years, 10 points for holding an off-road licence for more than three years and five five points for holding an off-rad licence for less than three years.

For the Bikes category, Finke rookies will need to demonstrate they have competed in another similar international, national or state event, hold a senior national licence and/or compete in the two-wheel Australian Off Road Championship or top-level motocross.

For both the Cars and Bikes classes, competitors can apply for dispensation from the entry criteria, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Quads have also been banned from the Bikes class at Finke due to Motorcycling Australia rules that prohibit different machines competing in the same category.

Separating two-wheel and four-wheel bikes has been deemed not practical by Finke organisers.

“We have seen our event grow in recent times and it has come to the point where it’s important to introduce an assessment for competitors,” said Finke Desert Race president Antony Hoffa.

“With much larger fields of competitors and a course that is increasingly more challenging, it is no longer viable for us to simply offer a starting place to whomever applies.

“It’s about making sure someone new to the event has a particular level of experience and confidence.”

The new rules have been met with support by both governing bodies involved.

“Finke is undoubtedly the biggest off road event in this country and collectively we need to keep making improvements, to make sure there is a high standard of competition taking part every year,” said Motorsport Australia's director of motorsport and commercial operations Michael Smith.

“Every time a competitor races in Finke, they are putting themselves through a very rigorous event and you want to have every bit of confidence in the ability of those racing with and against you, so everyone can compete fairly and safely."

Motorcycling Australia CEO Peter Doyle added: “The safety of competitors and all involved at motorsport events around the country is extremely important to Motorcycling Australia and we want competitors to have confidence in themselves and those around them, that they are race prepared.”

Entries to the 2022 Finke Desert Race open on February 1 for Bikes and March 1 for Cars.

Toby Price is the reining Finke champion on four wheels while David Walsh was classed the 2021 Bikes winner after the second leg was cancelled due to the crash.

The 2022 Finke Desert Race will take place between June 9-13.

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