After the cancellation of the 2019 A4DE originally scheduled in April, not much has been happening on the AORC front. Finke and Hattah have provided most of the entertainment in the meantime but as people began to roll into the pits on Friday before the event it was like a homecoming of sorts with everyone getting a chance to catch up and enjoy the laid back atmosphere the AORC is known for.
Rounds 5&6 returned to the ever popular Taverners Road venue at Kyogle. With a mix of off-camber corners, snotty hill climbs and descents topped off with some epic firetrail sections it’s clear to see why riders love coming back here.
While the pits are not the best on the planet, being divided by small creeks, most crews were able to find a spot to call home for two days of the most fun racing we’ve seen in a while.
Parade lap for the seniors saw them get their first look at a test much longer than usual.
Some comments passed by riders who had walked this monster were that it took over 3 hours to get around it on foot.
Around a quarter of an hour of fuel was burnt by the fast guys for one trip around this test that climbed, then plunged, then climbed the rugged and steep Kyogle hillsides.
Stefan Granquist was an unlucky casualty early on, over-cooking a corner entry, destroying a front wheel, almost losing his machine over an embankment and managing to find his arm wedged between the blue-hot exhaust and the ground. Not an ideal start to the weekend and combined with an existing back injury flare up it saw him sit out the racing for the weekend.
The usual struggle continued at the front of the pack with KTM’s Daniel Milner and Husqvarna Offroad racer Daniel Sanders trading blows all day with Sanders managing the fastest time for the day and E3 honours.
Milner took out the E2 class with flying colours and Husqvarna’s young gun Fraser Higlett posted a round win in E1, narrowly edging out KTM Enduro Team rider Lyndon Snodgrass.
KTM mounted Kyron Bacon was convincing in EJ to extend his lead in what is a tough class.
In the Womens class Yamaha rider Jess Gardiner continued her slaying ways ahead of Emelie Karlsson and Emma Milesevic.
The Sunday tracks saw a few changes to give riders a bit of variety. The lush red soil amongst a gum plantation would play host to the senior grades in what ended up being some close racing.
Milner managed to claw his way to E2 victory again while Sanders continued his E3 clean sweep.
Yamaha’s Luke Styke returned to the podium in convincing fashion taking the E1 win after a Saturday he would rather forget.
Once again Jess Gardiner proved too good and walked away with the Womens crown.
One had to feel for Sherco rider Jonte Reynders after an accident on Sunday left him with a broken scapula and a possible 4-6 weeks recovery. Jonte was riding well with the Motul Pirelli Sherco Offroad team and had a podium position within grasp until his unfortunate mishap.
With many of the rounds now falling close together after the extended early break it leaves little time for him to recover.
All in all, the riders enjoyed the terrain and tracks and in particular the longer tests. There was however a gnarly little track that the seniors rode both days.
It was a rock filled nightmare for many with a couple of deep waterholes thrown in for good measure. In the words of a young punter who rode it, “you couldn’t race through there, you just had to survive it”, it was clear to see it was technical to say the least, and at times pushed some of the best beyond their limits and onto the rocky surface.
The next round will be held at the unique town of Broken Hill where all grades will race a single day cross country event.
After the drive out and back last year I made the decision to fly, costly as it may be. But I reckon it’s got to be cheaper than cleaning up one of the ten million kangaroos that will no doubt be lining the road in a guard of honour.
Travel safe everyone, see you in a couple of weeks.
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