In an Australian Off Road Championship (AORC) first, the round was held at the famous mining town of Broken Hill over the weekend of September 1-2, breaking away from a traditional club based event saw the AORC dip its toes into the popular scene of desert endurance racing.
Riders and teams made the trek out to the iconic location with some already blooded in this type of racing having attempted Hattah and Finke. The hope in previous weeks for moisture had amounted to nothing allowing the attendees one true certainty – with no rain since the last Prime Minister who served a full term was in office, it was going to be dustier than downtown Baghdad.
When Charles Sturt saw this place from the heights of the Barrier Ranges he described what appeared to be a broken hill, hence the now bustling gem of the west was given its name. With silver ore being mined around the town it soon became a rich oasis for those who had the ability to exploit it and while gold never really entered the picture out here, that’s what Australia’s top enduro racers were after.
The previous rounds of the AORC at Dungog saw some fierce battling among the classes, particularly in E1 where Luke Styke and Fraser Higlett traded blows in what has become an enthralling class battle. Daniel Milner and Daniel Sanders were a class above in their respective grades with Milner taking away the fastest result for the weekend.
This event would be very different to any other AORC in recent history with Juniors doing their prologue and race on Saturday with the Senior grades put through their prologue also on Saturday before the finale on Sunday being a 4 hour cross country around the unforgiving terrain south of Broken Hill in what is an almost exact model of the Hattah Desert race format.
The growing popularity of Hattah has been obvious over the last number of years with totally packed grids and large crowds attending and it was hoped there would be similar interest in this event. It was clear this interest has spilled over with a total of 95 AORC riders making the trip. Not having the round entwined with a state event kept the overall numbers down but the event was a success based off AORC entrants.
The Junior prologue and race gave everyone an insight into the conditions they would encounter over the weekend. It was clear from the outset that dust was again going to play a contributing factor. More so in this race due to the cross country format where avoiding the dust would be nigh on impossible, unless you were the leader.
This was only a benefit until lappers came into play. The Junior prologue was short and sharp ending with J3 rider Blake Hollis first off the start grid and the promise of clean air.
He made the most of his opportunity and managed to win his class but it was Korey MacMahon who was fastest for the day taking out J4 and eclipsing the field. Max Phillips pushed his KTM 85SX to a commanding victory in the J2 class.
Senior prologue saw the big guns roll up to the start line one at a time for an all-out crack at the fastest time. This is something to watch, with every rider wringing the neck of his machine for the short prologue lap.
Holding nothing back it ended up being Daniel Milner who edged out his team mate Lyndon Snodgrass by 0.002 seconds on the short but challenging track with Active8 Yamaha’s Josh Green rounding out the top 3.
The big surprise was Daniel Sanders finishing well back in 9th position. Sunday morning would see some of the best desert racers this country has to offer battle it out around the tight Broken Hill track.
After a night to think about it, everyone arrived primed to race. Unfortunately, no moisture had fallen so it was back out into the dust. As riders prepared for the start, mechanics were busy adapting bikes to suit the dust and to ensure their riders would have the best chance of making the finish.
Milner got business underway and made sure he used the clean air to his advantage. For this race, vision was king, and Milner wore the crown. Unable to make inroads into his impressive start the likes of Styke, Snodgrass, Sanders, to name a few fell slowly behind as Milner rose to the top of the ore pile.
Yamaha’s Josh Green struck mechanical issues in the first lap and eventually had to withdraw putting a major dent in his championship hopes. Michael Driscoll battled through a tough situation where a damaged gear selector left him with the use of only fourth gear to win the EJ class.
Luke Styke was impressive again sweeping his way to the top of E1 and third fastest overall which was no small feat for the 250cc rider considering he was battling against bikes of double that engine capacity. Husqvarna’s Daniel Sanders topped the podium in E2 with a determined effort.
The Womens class was taken out convincingly by Emelie Karlsson with Jessica Gardiner and Danielle Foot rounding out the podium.
Peter Rudd was victorious in the Veterans class while Craig Treasure proved too good in Masters.
The three fastest riders for the day were Daniel Milner, Daniel Sanders and Luke Styke.
The next round of AORC competition takes place in South Australia at Kingston SE. It is hoped that recent rain in the area will have helped settle the dust to give the riders a well earned break from the dry conditions.
In recent years South Australia has provided some of the best rounds of the season and it’s clear to see the excitement building.
Senior Cross Country Overall Top 10 (E1-E3)
Daniel Milner 3:49:56.173
Daniel Sanders 3:50:44.075
Luke Styke 3:56:10.428
Lyndon Snodgrass 3:57:04.690
Riley Graham 3:58:15.058
Fraser Higlett 4:01:26.354
Lachlan Stanford 4:02:10.543
Nathan Trigg 4:02:52.094
Stefan Granquist 4:04:21.042
Andrew Wilksch 4:08:03.982
AORC E3 Round 7 Provisional Results
Daniel Milner (KTM Off-Road Factory Racing Team) 3:49:56.173
Lachlan Stanford (Husqvarna Off-Road Factory Racing Team) 4:02:10.543
Andrew Wilksch (Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team) 4:08:03.982
Broc Grabham 4:09:47.236
Alex Bolton 4:13:21.340
AORC E3 Standings
Daniel MILNER 175
Lachlan STANFORD 145
Broc GRABHAM 126
Andrew WILKSCH 115
Thomas MASON 111
AORC E2 Round 7 Provisional Results
Daniel Sanders (Husqvarna Off-Road Factory Racing Team) 3:50:44.075
Lyndon Snodgrass (KTM Off-Road Factory Racing Team) 3:57:04.690
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