GRID TALK – LACHLAN STANFORD | Columns | Gassit Garage
Four Days of Fury in the Southern Alps
Ever since Father Christmas came good with a Honda QR50 when Lachie was a toddler, he’s been belting around the northern rivers hinterland. Later, surfing the breaks at Byron Bay didn’t quite match the thrill of a second hand CRF250 around Reedy Creek in the MX Junior Lites. A little later still, a brand new KTM 250SXF rocketed him to ‘A’ Grade where the wins continued.
Introduced to enduro, the attraction of cross country racing hit the spot and, at 21 years old, Lachie found himself in Germany representing Australia at the Olympics of motorcycling – the International Six Day Enduro. Two years later he captained the team in Argentina when they scored Australia’s second ever podium. “San Juan was certainly the toughest event for me” recalls Lachie. “For the first two days you needed a jacket in the morning but by the fourth day it was over 40°C. One section took over an hour in soft sand with endless metre high moguls.”
“In 2015 I was selected for Australia’s World Trophy Team in Slovakia which was another level altogether. I won the first day which was an eye opener for me. The terrain reminded me of conditions in Australia, hard pack grass and some tight bush riding. All the Aussie contingent excelled.” In fact, despite some prissy posturing by the French officials Australia won the World Trophy – along with the Junior Trophy and the Women’s Trophy.
For 2016 the World Trophy Teams were reduced from six riders to four yet still had to cover all three divisions – 250cc, 450cc and Open. “It puts a lot more pressure on the teams” said Lachie “and it was definitely a big change for me, dropping from the Husqvarna FE501 to the 250. You have to keep the corner speed up and be very aggressive. Hopefully the experience will bring my pace up now I’m back on the 501.”
Three weeks out from the Australian Four Day Enduro (A4DE) Lachie has just taken a 2017 model Husqvarna FE501 for an exhausting test run and is very enthusiastic. “There’s much more power on tap than my old model and the mapping is spot on. But the standout is the traction control.” He’s certainly happy to be back on the big bore bike knowing his former ISDE team-mates, Daniel Sanders and Daniel Milner, will be his fiercest A4DE competitors.
“Daniel Sanders was certainly above everyone else in Australia this year” states Lachie; the only rider to finish in front of the Colonel’s KTM300 2-stroke in any round of the 2016 Australian Off Road Championship. Daniel Milner has suffered an injury plagued year racing in the USA, but the current title holder would like nothing more than to finish the year with a fifth 4Day crown on his CDR prepped Yamaha WR450F.
Then there’s Matt Phillips. Having won the Junior World Enduro Championship as a 19 year old, followed by the Senior World Enduro Championship a year later and, only this year, being crowned the inaugural World EnduroGP Champion, Phillips will arrive at the A4DE in the Southern Alps to demonstrate why the Sherco 300 SEF-R is now king of the mountain. And as if this weren’t enough competition for Lachie, Mathias Bellino, the bloke who ran second to Phillips in the EnduroGP Championship will also contest the A4DE riding a Husqvarna FE450.
It’s clear that Lachie will need all the power he can get from his new Husky 501. And utilise all his new found skills maintaining mid corner speed if he has any chance of winning what will be the most hotly contested A4DE in many years.
By Peter Whitaker
Images: Russell Colvin