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SHANE DIENER | Where are they now?

10-time winner of Australia’s most taxing test of endurance

Nowhere was the ethos of cross-country motorcycle endurance racing embraced with more enthusiasm than South Australia’s Barossa Valley. During the 1930s, when motorcycles vastly outnumbered four wheelers, the principal sport in South Australia was road racing at Lobethal, scrambling on Sellicks Beach and statewide reliability trials, the most renowned event being ‘the 24 hour’.

Barring the duration of the second world war, the annual 24 Hour Reliability Trial has been held since 1924. Of course there have been multiple winners, however none can match 10-time winner Shane Diener, who dominated the event between 1993 and 2009, with a 50 percent win rate.

“Bike preparation was the key to success,” says Shane. “But the bikes are now so reliable with far superior LED lighting. Back then the rear brake (light) would draw so much voltage the headlight would fade. But we all faced the same problem.

“I had some big battles with (three-time winner) Andy Haydon, and maybe one lucky win because Andy lost his time card. But the following year I lost mine. So it’s swings and roundabouts. In 1999 I was on the Husaberg I’d ridden in the ISDE at Traralgon and had a 13 minute lead when the rear mousse disintegrated, though I managed to fit a tube and hold the lead.”

With the revival of the Australasian Safari in 2007 Shane’s good fortune deserted him. A piston meltdown, followed by an altercation with a roo, preceded brake failure, fuel line problems and a broken knee over successive years.

However Shane’s perseverance in winning the Dakar Challenge earned him a free entry to the 2014 Dakar, in which he joined fellow South Australians Andy Caldecott and Dave Schwarz, becoming the 11th Aussie ever to score a Finishers Medallion in the Dakar.

“I was well aware there’d be a language barrier,” recalls Shane. “Though it seemed as if the organisers were hell bent on breaking people. I couldn’t believe the enormity of Dakar, the mental fatigue and lack of sleep. It was tougher than the 24 Hour. And you had to back it up, day after day after day…”

Shane retired from competition shortly after to focus on the family business – building and installing solar water pumps – and his family; wife Tanya and kids Riley and Abbey.

“The summer period is our busiest time of year,” says Shane. “And I was very much aware of the extra workload on my father Brenton (a former 24-hour winner) to cover for me. It’s not out of the question that I might do another overseas cross-country event, but now young Riley seems to have an interest in moving up from his TT-R110 to an old DT175 – so who knows.”

Our conversation reminded Shane to renew his membership in the Gawler MCC “’cos there’s an event coming up soon” and he’s also heavily involved in setting the course for the 24 Hour Reliability Trial each year.

“It’s a six month job,” he explains. “We plan on a four-year turnover using tracks from previous years; surveying the competitive sections; driving the tracks about four months out, then linking up the liaison sections and the 24 control points. Then there’s talking to the property owners, all the Council requirements and MA permits, organising the Officials and Police cooperation. Until finally, two weeks out, we mark the test sections and establish the time allowances.”

Shane may no longer be competing, but with both younger brother Anthony and nephew Liam fronting the starter at the 24 hour, there’s every chance the Diener dynasty isn’t over yet.   

Peter Whitaker