THEY say a family that plays together stays together and that is very much the case for Chelsea, Gabby and Jet Brien.
This weekend the siblings will compete in the Hattah Desert Race – Chelsea and Gabby in the senior class and Jet in the junior division.
Three of the four Brien children have fallen in love both with motorbikes and racing and that makes the next two days an action packed weekend for the family.
Jet’s the little brother – but leads the way when it comes to being experienced at the Hattah Desert Race.
Having raced the event three times before, his best result has been 20th outright in Junior Big Wheel last year.
As this is his final junior year, he hopes to finish in the Top 10. He’ll be riding a 250cc KTM.
Jet said bike reliability and set up, fitness (physically) and mindset will be the factors most important in being successful this weekend.
And Jet is familiar with what it takes to be successful – he’s spent most weekends this year away competing in both State and National events and is currently leading the 2022 Mitas Tyres – Victorian Off-road Championship in the J4 class.
Eight rounds in, and with seven to go, Jet has a formidable lead.
The rider is also competing in the 2022 Yamaha Australian Off-road Championship in the same class and is sixth after four rounds.
With six rounds to go, Rounds 11 and 12 will see Jet travel to Tasmania.
The Hattah Desert race is the only enduro that encompasses junior riders, with the likes of the Finke Desert Race focusing purely on seniors.
Jet describes the local race as the pinnacle of the calendar in off-road racing.
Seventeen-year-old Gabby will travel back to Mildura to compete in the Desert Race this weekend.
She’s raced two of the events before – one as a junior and the other as a senior last year.
And it is her experience from last time around that has seen her determined to finish the race this year.
Gabby only took up racing three or four years ago, and decided to give it a go competitively after being inspired by Jet. It didn’t take long before she was “trapped”.
“My first junior Hattah was really good,” Gabby said.
“I was just happy that I finished, but I did not too badly.
“Last year I crushed my hand, crushing all my fingers so I didn’t get to finish.
“It’s made me very determined to finish this one.”
Gabby was on her third lap, with two laps to go when another rider crashed into her, putting an end to her race last time.
She said for anyone who hasn’t ridden Hattah before, it was challenging to describe just how brutal the race is.
“The conditions are hard core,” she said.
“The track is ever changing, ever evolving and no two laps are the same.”
You’d be forgiven to think she’s a glutton for punishment given the brutality.
“I think because last year I wasn’t very successful, having a bit of an accident and ending up in hospital, that’s made me want to knuckle it out this year and get it done,” she conceded.
“It’s a big achievement to be able to finish, it’s one of the bigger races of the year.”
Chelsea will also be competing in her third Hattah Desert Race this weekend.
She said she started riding motorbikes as soon as she could walk, and, growing up on a farm meant it was a daily hobby.
“It wasn’t until we moved to Mildura that I got more serious about bikes and riding as the people we became family friends with were involved in racing,” Chelsea said.
Her first race was at 14 and she said she was riding an old CRF150F bike.
“I enjoy the social side of motorbikes,” Chelsea said.
“Having my whole family ride motorbikes, as well as my partner, it makes it such a fun and memorable time being able to do what we enjoy as a family.”
Her focus for the event previously has been just to make it home in one piece, but this year Chelsea is hoping to achieve a good result, and is approaching the event more fit and prepared than in previous years.
But she knows conquering Hattah will be no easy feat.
“The biggest challenge of Hattah is the way the track deteriorates every lap,” she said.
“With over 400 bikes going around every lap it gets pretty chopped out quickly.”
The Brien family would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: PRD Real Estate, All Power Onsite Auto Electrics, Roof Top Solar, Vanden Estate, A Class Electrical, Brodie Waters Racing, Gasmoto and Grabbos Track and Trail.
– By ZOEY ANDREWS