1927. That was the last time it rained in Broken Hill. Many moons have passed since the last drops of moisture quenched the parched desert soils between Broken Hill and Wentworth near the South Australian border.
That wasn’t going to stop the Australian Off Road Championships from coming to town in an effort to summon Zeus, the god of rain and thunder in the hope that he would take pity on this ravaged land and it’s inhabitants.
When we arrived at the venue for this year’s event, it was clear that no amount of prayer was going to help. The ground was bone dry. With little more than a passing shower since the last time the AORC was here, it was clear no god could save us now.
Coupled with the ever-increasing winds it soon became obvious that this would be the total opposite to Hattah. A desert race in every sense of the word. But what else did we expect? With riders across 10 grades hoping to tame the wild and unforgiving landscape it was certain this was going to be a game of survival and intelligence, where the rider who could manage the brutal conditions would find themselves atop a sand pile for the ages.
Juniors raced Saturday in a three-hour enduro event that saw young Yamaha gun Blake Hollis take the lead and never look back. In what was an impressive ride in the conditions he managed to finish well clear of second place and claim the J4 podium in convincing fashion.
Riley McGillivray decimated the competition in J3 while in J2 Billy Hargy showed why he is going to be one to watch as he steps up into the older grades.
The Senior Prologue was also held Saturday giving the big boys and girls a chance to lock in a favourable start position that would be critical to their success in Sunday’s outing. As usual, the two fastest riders in the country pushed each other to the line with Husqvarna Enduro Team rider Daniel Sanders edging out KTM Offroad Team rider Daniel Milner by 1.06 seconds.
Threesix Motorsports Yamaha rider Luke Styke showed why he can’t be discounted managing to put his WR250F in third place. A huge effort taking into consideration the sandy terrain and the fact that many of the bikes behind him were double the capacity.
So the stage was set for what was anticipated to be some exciting racing as everyone prayed the wind would drop slightly so the ever present dust storms would ease up. While some intermittent showers teased everyone unfortunately all prayers went unanswered.
Sunday began like Saturday. Plenty of laughs and some good humour thrown in by the Broken Hill Harley Riders Association who battled all weekend to make sure the windblown crowd had something to eat and drink, and kept spirits as high as could be expected.
The wind also picked up strength to exceed the previous day, as riders readied themselves on the start line in a Hattah Desert Race style start without the mass run to the first corner. Each rider was released twenty five seconds apart in an effort to keep the dust to a minimum in the early stages of the race.
Daniel Sanders sped off with a purpose and never looked back. He led from start to finish eventually clinching the overall and his class win by some four-minutes.
Daniel Milner spent his day trying to catch Sanders but in the treacherous conditions he wasn’t able to reel him in. Milner finished on top of the E2 standings however to continue his perfect class record for 2019.
Milner’s teammate Lyndon Snodgrass (KTM Offroad Enduro Team) clinched the E1 silverware with an impressive display in which he showed not only maturity but also raw, unadulterated speed while battling with Threesix Motorsports Yamaha rider Luke Styke for the entire race.
The Women’s podium was topped by a new face in Honda mounted Emma Milesevic who held off Jess Gardiner and Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha) for the win after three hours.
Rounds 8 and 9 move to Coonalpyn SA in three weeks time for what will be another sand event. After this years Broken Hill round there are many in the pits hoping for a warmish, windless affair but nobody is holding their breath given the fact we’ve seen some extremes in weather so far this year. Surely we’re due for it though.
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