Delayed 2017 AORC season commences in Victoria this weekend
AORC Rounds 1-2 postponed due to weather with new date yet to be announced
Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) saw the first two rounds in NSW postponed due to weather, with Rounds 3 & 4 now kicking off the 2017 season in Rawson, Victoria.
The teams have been all out preparing for the Rawson round as a result, with KTM in particular keen to defend their titles following a cracker 2016 season.
Yamaha will likewise be playing a big role in this year’s championship, and not just because they’re naming sponsors for all 12 rounds, as well as the A4DE and two state championships.
Meanwhile the Husqvarna Enduro Team has riders in the E2 and E3 categories and is keen to kick off the season after such a long off-season.
The Round 1 and 2 postponement turned out to be a favourable turn of events for the Sherco Off Road Racing Team whose main two riders suffered injury, but will be recovered by Rounds 3 & 4, as well as having to work from a temporary workshop after a fire damaged their workshop last year.
Below you’ll find the Team Managers discussing the opening round at Rawson, the challenges that lie ahead and their targets for the 2017 season.
Yamaha Racing has all bases covered in the Off-Road world in 2017 with 12 nationally supported riders contesting national off road events, starting in April. It is a massive campaign for the riders as they challenge themselves and their machines throughout the year chasing a host of national championships.
Active8 Yamaha spearhead the off road charge with a three rider line up in 2017, managed by AJ Roberts. Young gun Wil Ruprecht will join the experienced duo of Josh Green and Beau Ralston as they take on the E1, E2 and E3 duties respectively. Ruprecht will be mounted an a YZ250FX, Green on board a 450, while Ralston will be two stroke mounted on a YZ300X. It will be a busy season for Green and Ralston as both will also compete at the high-profile desert events of Finke and Hattah.
Stefan Granquist, Scott Keegan and Riley Graham will also receive significant support as they contest the AORC and A4DE on board Yamaha machinery. All three were solid contributors to Yamaha’s results in 2016 and will continue to fly the flag in 2017. Granquist and Graham will take on E2 duties on board a 450cc machine while Keegan is out to snare a championship in the E1 class.
Queensland based riders PD Allan and Luke Strauch will be making their presence felt under the guidance of former AORC champion, Tom McCormack. Allen will be in the E1 class will Staunch will contest the U19 division. Also in the U19 class will be former junior MX champ, Michael Driscoll who has proved a revelation in off road racing and shown great pre-season form.
Yamaha Australia has always been a huge supporter of Women’s racing and 2017 is no different with Jemma Wilson headlining the female charge. Wilson is the current Australian off Road Champion and desperate to add another title to her resume but she will be pushed by fellow Yamaha competitor, Emelie Karlsson.
AJ Roberts, Team Manager for Active8 Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team is confident in his team’s preparation for the first race of the season.
AJ Roberts – Team Manager for Active8 Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team
“Obviously we had the postponement the first two rounds due to inclement weather. We were planning on a two-day enduro with lights and now we had to prepare for a cross-country race with no lights and no side stand, so a different format and regulations were required to be adhered to. The change of format after the postponement of the first two rounds is not an issue for our team though, as we have to make adjustments to the bikes every race weekend anyways. As the situation changes you have to be prepared for these situations, we had to face the situation and adapt to it. Our competition is our challenge, it all starts this weekend and we’ll know where we stand.”
“I’ve never competed there but our riders have to be versatile in the first place, so adapting to the Rawson track should be no problem at all. From being up north the Victorians may have an advantage from racing at state level, for us we want to go there being as prepared as we can be and have a good outcome. We have tried to build consistency and a strong work ethic from our riders over time. This helps build confidence in our established riders. We’ve also brought in Will Ruprecht (E1) as a rookie, so we’ll see how he goes over time and he has two strong riders in Josh Green (E2) and Beau Ralston (E3) to look up to. Obviously the target is to win, there is no lets get third! We have to be consistent but the goal has to be to win.”
Yamaha will be the naming rights sponsor of the 12 round Australian Off Road Championship (AORC), the Australian Four day Enduro (A4DE) as well as the NSW and Victorian state championships. The backing of these events is crucial to riders and the sport and Yamaha are only too happy to work with promoter and clubs to provide the best events possible and keep Australian Off Road Racing forging ahead.
Ray Howard – Motorsport Manager
“Yamaha will again be a mayor player in off road racing. We will continue to invest in riders, teams and events for 2017 and hope for a successful season on and off the track. As previously released, we have worked closely with clubs and promoters to enhance the riders experience at our events this season and look forward to getting things underway at the opening round of the AORC in April.”
KTM Enduro Team
It’s pretty hard to follow a season in which you nailed a one-two in the Australia’s premier off-road racing series and scored the trifecta of E1, E2 and E3 victories, but KTM Australia’s Enduro Racing Team and factory support racers can’t wait to give it a shot as this year’s series bursts into life near the tiny town of Rawson, in south-eastern Victoria.
Glenn Kearney, Team Manager for KTM Enduro Team is eager for the race weekend to get started after the first two rounds were postponed. The event marks the national championship debut of a determined new-look outfit led by four-time A4DE Champion Daniel Milner and exciting up-and-comer Lyndon Snodgrass, overseen by respected former enduro champion Glenn Kearney in the Team Manager role.
Daniel Milner makes no secret of the fact that his only pass mark is outright series victory, and the 25-year-old from Lang Lang has formed a quick and rather ominous bond with the KTM 450 EXC-F he’ll ride in the E2 category.
“I’m wanting to win, and win only, I’ve missed the last two seasons while I’ve been off racing in America and the main thing for me is to come back where I finished off here so I definitely want to come back and win, that’s for sure. We’ve had the bike since December and I’ve got it set up how I want it – I really love it. It’s unreal how light it is and how easy it is to throw around in the bush, especially in the tight stuff. I’m loving the team and working with GK and the rest is awesome. I think it’s going to be a great year and I’m really looking forward to hanging out with them. Lyndon’s so young and willing to learn and listen, so I think it will be a pretty eventful year and good fun. He’s probably in the best place to learn and get better. GK is great, I get a phone call off him and we give each other a bit of rubbish and then get on with work. It’s good. I really hope we can get a podium for him and for myself.”
Teammate eighteen-year-old Snodgrass’ will benefit from the expert guidance of both Kearney and Milner, and it will surprise few if the KTM 300 EXC rider reaches new milestones during the season, as he vies for both E3 and outright podiums. Joining Snodgrass in the E3 category will be another teenage two-stroke rider, 18-year-old factory support rider Tom Mason aboard the Bolton’s Motorcycles KTM 300 EXC.
“I’m excited for the first run. This year on the Factory Team will take the stress of trying to organise things off my shoulders. It’s a bit different to doing it all yourself or having parents there helping me out. GK’s been awesome, he’s got a heap of experience so he knows what he’s doing, and helping out with riding and testing and stuff. Hopefully he’ll be able to give us a few pointers on race day. Dan’s got heaps of experience so it’s pretty cool to be on the team I’m on. The 2017 model KTM 300 EXC is a whole lot better and I’ve been able to fine tune the motor and suspension for what I’ve wanted, whereas last year I just ran it how it was. I’ve been learning from Milner and trying to ride a bit smoother. It’s good to learn from him and watch him ride a bit. We’ve had a couple of state rounds at Rawson and it should be a good track for us.”
In the E1 category, 21-year-old defending Champion and Peter Stevens Motorcycles rider Jack Simpson will be out to defend his E1 title and move up the outright rankings, aboard a KTM 250 XCF.
Glenn Kearney – Team Manager for KTM Enduro Team
“The KTM Enduro Team was ready for Rounds 1 & 2, which unfortunately got washed out, so everyone is raring to go now for Rounds 3 & 4 at Rawson. We are expecting strong results this weekend. I’ve never raced there, but we can’t wait to blow the cobwebs out and get everyone on track! We are very happy to have signed Daniel Milner (E2) for 2017 and having him back in the country. We have been doing a lot of testing and preparation to get him well prepared, so we’re expecting big things out of him. Also to have young Lyndon Snodgrass (E3) stepping up to the plate on a 300 EXC, I think we will see great things for him. It’s a local race for them both, so it’ll be a great start to the championship.”
“Everyone is coming out of a long off season and all the teams are still guessing where they’re at, until you get out on the racetrack we’re unsure as to where we stand. As a team we’re still coming together, this is a new role for me to manage the KTM team, even though I’ve been doing it in the past with another brand. So it’s about working with the mechanics and a brand new team. Hopefully we’ve got the dynamic right and achieve great results on race day. Of course, KTM is there to win, anything less is second best, so we’ll come out with all guns blazing. At the same time it’s a long season, everyone has to stay fit and healthy. We have to capitalise on the good days but also consolidate on the bad days to avoid any shockers.”
Husqvarna Enduro Team
Christian Horwood, Team Manager of Husqvarna Enduro Team explained that despite the long off-season, Husqvarna are ready to compete.
Christian Horwood – Team Manager of Husqvarna Enduro Team
“The preparation has been extremely positive and productive; we are definitely looking forward to going racing, as it’s been a long off-season with Rounds 1 & 2 being postponed. Can’t wait to get down there this weekend and have a crack at a great result. I’m very excited to be working with both riders, Lachlan Stanford (E3) is into his fourth year with the team now; we expect big things from him, and looking forward to working with Broc Grabham (E2) in his first year in a factory team.”
“We can’t wait to get to Rawson, I’ve never raced there myself but from what I hear it should suit both our riders quite well. The terrain and the format should make for a great weekend of racing, its great to start the season off with a cross-country. We are definitely looking for an outright champion in 2017 and win E2 and E3, they are big targets but we think we can achieve them. In 2017 we will be looking to get through the season in great shape, have both riders injury free and have both our boys win their respective classes!”
DSR Motul/Pirelli Sherco Off Road Racing Team
Dave Suter, Team Manager for DSR Motul/Pirelli Sherco Off Road Racing Team encountered a tough lead up to this weekends racing but his team are ready to go.
Dave Suter – Team Manager for DSR Motul/Pirelli Sherco Off Road Racing Team
“Overall we are happy with our preparation. It probably was a positive for us that the Rounds 1 & 2 was postponed due to our two main riders Nic Tomlinson (EJ) and Andy Wilksch (E2) both sustaining shoulder injuries in the last month. We are expecting strong results over the course of the championship from our main riders Nic Tomlinson (EJ) and Andy Wilksch (E2) They will both be riding this weekend at this stage, they’ve both been doing a lot of physio and preparation for the upcoming rounds.”
“We are working out of a place which is not ideal due to a fire at our workshop last year. It was all supposed to be sorted by this time, but complications with councils has been a significant hold up. Obviously it hasn’t been an ideal situation for the team, but hopefully by the end of the year we should be back to a optimal situation like it was before.”
“Rawson will be a great place to compete. Really we’re going to try and get some points for the next round but still aim for the championship and see how we go for the weekend. We are looking at Nic Tomlinson (EJ) taking out the under 19’s and Derek Grundy (Masters) to take out the Masters. We’ve set ourselves some pretty high targets but we think they are definitely achievable. Andy Wilksch (E2) our target is a top 5 finish, he’s in the E2 class, which is tough to break into from coming out of the Under 19’s.
2017 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship Calendar
- Round 3 & 4: Rawson, VIC – 22–23 April 2017
- Round 5 & 6: Miva, QLD – 13–14 May 2017
- Round 7 & 8: Renmark, SA – 24–25 June 2017
- Round 9 & 10: Kyogle, NSW – 22–23 July 2017
- Round 11 & 12: Omeo, VIC – 5–6 August 2017
- Round 1 & 2: Dungog, NSW – Postponed (To be Announced)