He may not be sure of his own participation, but decorated enduro racer Glenn Kearney will still lead the expanded Husqvarna Australia factory support squad into this weekend’s Australian Off-Road Championship opener at Kilkivan, near Gympie in Queensland.
Having fractured his left shoulder blade in four places in practice for the Adelaide Enduro-X almost a fortnight ago, Kearney has been in overdrive trying to facilitate healing and recovery – even spending time in a hyperbaric chamber to promote healing – in order to face the starter when this year’s AORC season begins.
The team boss has his entry in and his fingers crossed, as he’s excited about the prospect of stepping back into the E1 class aboard his nimble Husqvarna FE250, a move he believes will also minimise the adverse effects of the braking limitations he suffers since having his right ankle fused at the end of season 2014.
Should Kearney fail in his attempts to reach fitness in time for day one however, 24-year-old hard enduro specialist Mitch Harper is on standby to ensure Kearney’s Husqvarna still has a presence in the class.
Byron Bay ace Lachy Stanford will target this year’s E3 championship on a Husqvarna FE 501. In the best form of his life and on a bike his smooth, flowing style is especially well suited to, it will surprise no one if Stanford makes it to the podium this weekend.
The famous Crowned H logo also has a menacing gang of Husqvarna factory support riders on the job with 16-year-old AORC Junior Champion Fraser Higlett stepping up to the Transmoto Under 19’s category on a Husqvarna FE 350.
Broc Grabham will ride a Husqvarna FE450 in E2, while former U19 competitor, 18-year-old Lyndon Snodgrass will be aiming to crack the top 15 outright in his first showing in seniors aboard a Husqvarna FE 350.
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney (FE250)
“Our game plan is to gear up, strap up and try to ride in E1. The shoulder feels really good, but I’m doing everything that I can, taking supplements and spending time in the hyperbaric chamber, doing rehab in the pool and gym every day, just doing what I can, and for a broken bone that’s 13 days old, it’s feeling pretty unbelievable. As a backup plan we’re bringing Mitch up as a member of the team for the weekend, and if I can’t ride, he’ll ride my race bike so at least we have some representation in E1. If it looks like I’m fine, he’ll just ride his FE350.”
Lachy Stanford (FE501)
“We had a great run on the 350 in Adelaide, but it’s been good to get back onto the Husky 501 and back into the rhythm of off-road training. I’ve had a really good preseason and I’m just looking forward to the weekend. I love the way the 501 just makes power everywhere and I don’t really notice the little bit of extra weight. It’s so easy to ride, and you don’t have to get every single corner right to get up those little pinches, it’s a 500 – you’re still going to get the same amount of speed because you’ve got that much power to play with. Sprint-sprint is my favourite format, and I’m used to the Queensland dust so I’m happy to kick off the season there.”
Broc Grabham (FE450)
“Everything’s been going pretty good, with my own fitness I feel the best I ever have after breaking my shoulder last year. The bike’s feeling great; I haven’t really done much to it. I just need more ride time, working and riding it makes it a bit harder, but it’s good being able to get time off to go to races. I’m getting help with Golden Tyres as well, and they’re unbelievable tyres, I’d never used them before. Just being on a bike that I have a lot of confidence in is great, I’m just comfortable and confident on the FE450.”
Lyndon Snodgrass (TE300)
“I’ve been riding as much as I can to keep on top of the fitness side of things. I’m loving the TE300, it’s got heaps of low-down torque which is good in the trees, when we’re riding enduro. It’s got plenty of snap and I don’t mind the punch of it. My goal is to keep it inside the top 15 for the first round, and if I can do better than that, then I will.”
Fraser Higlett (FE350)
“Going into the first round I don’t know what to expect but I’ve been riding heaps and doing some different things with training so I should be prepared. I’m riding the FE350 – when I jumped on it it sort of came back to me the feel I had with my 250 last year, and I just feel comfortable on the four stroke so it’s nice to be back on one. The 350 is a bit different, I can ride it like a 250 but it’s just got a bit more power when I do, so I go a bit faster, but if you want, you can ride it like a 450. But I don’t know, it sounds better riding it like a 250!”
Mitch Harper (FE250/FE350)
“I’m not 100% sure which bike I’ll be riding, most likely the 350 I rode at Clipsal. Either way I’m just happy to be on the Husqvarna team, I don’t think I would be up here without that support. It’s a lot harder if you have to set everything up yourself. I reckon it’s been about four years since I’ve been to an AORC, so there’ll be a lot of riders I haven’t competed against for a while. It will be interesting to see how I go. I feel like I’ve got to speed up, so hopefully I can keep it on two wheels and get through the weekend with a good result. Kilkivan should be okay for me there’s a lot of hard back at home and it’s pretty dusty, so it should be similar conditions. The rocky creek beds might suit me as well.”
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