The first Enduro format for the AORC series this year was held at Dungog with rounds 3-4 being run at the same Chichester Dam property as last year.
In the week leading up to the event there had been good rain meaning that in some places there was actually mud on the track, a stark contrast to the previous rounds at Toowoomba (or many of the rounds in the last 12 months for that matter).
A record 250 odd riders showed up for the event meaning the pits was packed. Everyone was keen to get amongst it and after rider’s briefing the field fell upon the perfectly prepared surface to make the most of the damp conditions.
The first time-carded enduro of 2019 would give everyone a chance to hone their skills in preparation for the eventuality that the A4DE would run this year.
After a postponement late in March it was unclear when, or even if the event would run.
It’s a format that doesn’t get much use these days with many rounds being either sprints or cross country/sprint combinations.
To see riders put to the test of organisation, planning as well as being forced to battle the elements all day long, while trail riding between special tests, is not only entertaining but intriguing.
Making sure you complete a whole load of trail and/or special tests and work periods before arriving at the start line of a special test on time adds a whole other aspect to this game.
True to form, the boys at the pointy end continued their domination of their respective classes with Milner, Sanders and Styke keeping the fires burning in E2, E3 and E1 respectively.
Yamaha had all three of their Activ8 Yamaha Team riders finish in the top five outright positions with strong showings in each of their classes.
KTM’s Lyndon Snodgrass had a disappointing day finishing 4th in E1, an unusual result for a rider rarely off the podium.
However it was KTM’s Daniel Milner who managed the fastest time for the day showing why he’s the world’s number 1 at this type of event.
Jess Gardiner continued her strong form to take out the Women’s class again and extend her lead. The question is, can anyone step up and break the stranglehold she has on the competition this year? Her form is ominous and her competitors seem to be struggling to match her speed.
Sunday showed us a track that had dried out to the point that some areas were turning to bulldust.
Three riders per minute kept the dust to a minimum, which not only helped the riders but also the spectators, who tried to watch the racing without choking through their handkerchiefs.
The class wars continued with Milner and Sanders schooling their competition, both riding like men possessed.
Styke put in another conscientious effort showing his skill as an off-road rider is without question.
As the day wore on though it was clear to see the effect long hours in the saddle were having on the riders with many struggling through a deteriorating track and trail conditions that ranged from dried out dust filled ruts, to slippery creeks beds and rainforest type trails.
For some the end couldn’t come quick enough but the consensus was the event was fun because it was different to the usual sprint format and challenged a lot of riders.
After all was said and done the torch passed from Daniel Milner to Husqvarna Offroad Racing Team’s Daniel Sanders for completion of Sunday’s round in the least amount of time, giving Chucky a boost leading into the desert racing season.
In a final twist to the weekend, a satellite link outage meant that all official results from Sunday’s round 4 were incorrect, and would need to be tallied manually, meaning none were available at the conclusion of the round. Motorcycling Australia was working on rectifying the issue with results expected to be released in the coming days.
The AORC will now head into a 14-week hiatus before it’s return to the iconic Kyogle tracks to allow events such as the Hattah Desert Race and the Finke Desert race to be run.
The A4DE was planned to be run also during this break but at the time of writing, the event has been postponed with no rescheduled date yet released. As the weeks slip away it’s possible there won’t be time left, or space between events for it to be run in what would be the second cancellation of the world renowned event in three years.
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