Palmer an outright winner
PROFESSIONAL rally car navigator and cross country motorbike champion Lee Palmer is back on top with an outright win in the Northern Inland Pony Express Series.
Despite trying to settle into family life and managing his South Grafton motor bike shop, Palmer has found himself leading the Pony Express competition after winning the second round of the event two weeks ago in Narrabri with his partner Dallas Paine.
This followed the pair's first round third placing and put them on top of the championship ladder.
“My mates talked me into doing this series, and the next thing I know I'm winning it.”
“I am too old for this I shouldn't be doing it,” he said.
The Northern Inland Pony Express series is contested over seven rounds. Each round involves riders racing round a bush track roughly 15-25 kilometres in length. All teams start the race at the same time and the winner is the team that covers the most ground in four hours.
Teams are made of two riders each taking turns on the track.
Round three of the Pony Express is at Coolatai on June 26.
Back in 1997, Palmer won the Australian FIA World Cup Safari in the 250cc class and was also the Australian Cross Country Champion in that class.
All up he has been racing professionally for more than 15 years.
Mr Palmer left the dangerous world of cross country motorcycling behind him five years ago, and opted for the somewhat less dangerous four-wheel version of the sport, rally car navigating.
Rally car teams seek out cross country riders for their finely tuned navigational skills, he said.
“Motorbike riders have to navigate and drive. We have a better feeling for the road,” he said.
Most recently Mr Palmer competed in the 30th rally of Tunisia where his team was unsuccessful. Despite a run of competitive day showings the overall effort was scuttled by a shocking first day that included a destroyed drive shaft that basically rendered the vehicle useless. This in turn led to a raft of time infringements and penalty points.
“There was no way of really coming back from that first day,” he said. “But that is racing.”
He has also been invited to navigate for a rally in Spain in July.
“People think I have a great life with all the travel I do, but my priority is to make sure I keep the business running and not go bankrupt,” he said.