AORC all set for Karoonda debut
Ariel Motorcycle Club Clerk of Course Jason Rampling says his club is all set to host Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) in Karoonda, South Australia this weekend.
Rampling said the club was as prepared as it would ever be to host its first national off-road event.
“We’re well ahead of schedule. We thought at the start of this it might be big job to take on, but everyone has got involved and it’s been great to see,” Rampling said.
“It’s the club’s first AORC event; we’ve had a couple of state rounds in previous years which has been pretty successful but this is definitely the first time the club has stepped up to the plate for a national event like this.”
Rampling said rain leading up to the event had left him confident the track would be in perfect order come the cross country round on Saturday.
“We had a small amount of rain last week which dampened the ground, but we had a good soaking on Monday night which has basically put the track in as good a condition as you could ever hope for,” Rampling said.
“We’ve been definitely helped by the dirt-bike gods that’s for sure.
“The track is mostly sand obviously from the location point of it. It is fairly flowing, but it is not as fast as Hattah or Finke or any of those types of events, so it is a bit of a one-off.
“It looks beautiful now, but it will get rough for sure.”
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team riders Lachy Stanford and Glenn Kearney will face a challenging three-hour cross-country on the Saturday, then fight through the muscle soreness to find maximum speed for the shorter sprint races on Sunday – with both in energy-sapping sandy conditions.
Husqvarna FE 350-mounted Lachy Stanford leads the charge for the Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team, currently holding fifth place in the overall standings and second in the E2 class.
The Byron Bay ace has been putting plenty of effort into sand training in an attempt to repeat the outright podium finish he achieved at the series opener in Queensland in March.
Husqvarna team boss Glenn Kearney continued his steady progress back from major off-season ankle surgery at the last AORC round, and last year’s E3 champion and outright number three is certain he can continue to find improvement in conditions he likes.
Though he concedes he’s still in the progress of developing a new riding style to suit his fused right ankle, Kearney’s 1-2 results in last weekend’s New South Wales enduro championship round suggest he’s not far at all from front-running pace.
After winning three of four rounds so far, fifteen year-old Brisbane racer and Enduro-X Nationals Junior winner Fraser Higlett will carry the lead of the J4 (15 years 250cc and 125cc) class into Karoonda, and hopes to use his Husqvarna FE 250 to maintain his position at the head of the junior rankings.
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney (FE501): “Five weeks has just flown by, I raced a round of the New South Wales Enduro Championship last weekend and got a win and a second. It was a good hit out, being the same format as this weekend’s AORC. I’ve been doing a few kays in the car lately driving to sand tracks, and going into the weekend I’m pretty excited; another cross country, so I’m happy about that. It’s a new venue, so there’s a little bit of unknown there, they reckon it’s could be pretty similar conditions to Hattah, with a bit of a fast, flowy track and Lachy and I both enjoy that stuff. But until we get there, nobody really knows. To me, I’m just looking for more improvement from the first round – the ankle’s feeling fairly solid, so I’m looking forward to another race.”
Lachy Stanford (FE350): “It’s been a nice lead-up to this race and I’ve been riding heaps, a lot of sand. Sand has never been my favourite thing in the past but it’s pretty much turned into my favourite thing now because I’ve been riding it so much. We’ve got a really good training group going, I’ve been spending a bit of time with Kirk Gibbs and Hollis, who’s up here now and we’ve been doing a lot of speed work. I think I’ve picked up a couple of seconds in the sand so we’ll find out. The South Australian crew put on really good events, so I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Fraser Higlett (FE250): “I’ve been riding lots, training on the bike, the usual. I’ve done a few motocross events, some of the Sunshine State events just for training – not taking it too seriously but still trying to get the best result I can. Motocross gets the aggression up a bit and that’s important in the cross countrys. I’ve heard it’s some pretty deep sand with some pine forests where we’re going – a bit technical, so I’m pretty keen for that. I like the sand, it is something different from all the hard pack around. I’ve got three firsts and a second so far, so Ben Kearns isn’t that far behind – I can’t get lazy!”
Motorex KTM Off-Road rider Ivan Long says he is determined to put in a good performance in his home state, the 25-year-old enters the event at Karoonda in South Australia with renewed confidence, after recording his best results yet at AORC level in the previous two rounds at Hedley.
Among those impressive results was his first outright top 10 finish in the Round 3 cross country, and his gradual improvement since the start of the season has left Long confident of another strong showing this weekend.
“It was more bike setup than anything else that cost me in the first rounds of the Aussie Off-Roads (in Kilkivan),” Long said.
“I didn’t quite have the setup that I was after, so I spent a bit of time in the month between that first round and Hedley making sure the bike handling was better and obviously the results showed.
“It has only really been little mistakes that have cost me; everyone is so close this year so it is anybody’s game. I think even Pricey (Toby Price) knows as well that he is getting pressure put on him to go a bit quicker.”
Despite being a five-time South Australian Off-Road Championship winner before making the step up to the national championship on a full-time basis, Long says he has never ridden at the Karoonda venue, but is confident nonetheless that conditions will still be in his favour.
“We’ve had a bit of moisture out that way lately, so it should be set to go for some good racing,” Long said.
“It (the track) is all sand and it’s going to be fast and flowing, so it will be a good fun race. It will be similar to a mini-Hattah track, and the rougher the track gets the better it will be for myself.
“This year I’m riding a 500, so it’s a bit of a handful when you get a tight track, but it will be good to open her up this weekend.”
As one of the few South Australian riders in the field, Long is adamant that the staging of an AORC round in the state will only help the development of young South Australian riders.
“It pretty well lifts the level. Holding a national round here just gives the SA guys a feel of where the level is at and where it is going,” Long said.
“The guys that are up the pointy end of the field pretty well train their arse off every day of the week. The SA guys don’t really realise that until they actually come to the race day and they go ‘wow, these guys have some serious pace and the fitness to get through the whole race’, so it will be a bit of an eye-opener for them.
“It’s good that they get to learn from it and realise where the national guys are at and where they are sort of heading.”
Spectators are advised that an admission fee will be charged from 8:30am onwards for both Saturday and Sunday. The price structure is as follows:
- COMPETITORS: Free
- ADULTS: $5
- KIDS UNDER 14: $2
- CAR LOAD (MAX 5 ADULTS): $15
2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship current standings
- Toby Price 93
- Josh Green 83
- Beau Ralston 70
- Daniel Sanders 69
- Lachlan Stanford 63
- Glenn Kearney 56
- Tye Simmonds 50
- Broc Grabham 42
- Stefan Granqvist 40
- Chris Hollis 38