Top riders reflect on Kilkivan AORC opener

Daniel “Chucky” Sanders – KTM 300 EXC
Daniel Sanders
Daniel Sanders

“I’m wrapped to get my first AORC wins; it’s unreal. It was good to beat them all on ground that I’m not too familiar with and not too good on. The KTM300 didn’t miss a beat all weekend and the Danny Apro-tuned suspension is a really good ride, the motor is pretty much the same as last year – I’ve done heaps of time on it now and I know how to ride it, the two-stroke is really good in the tight stuff so that’s where I make up as much time as possible. I’ve done a lot of practice in the off-season on rocky and off camber stuff and now I just want to keep this momentum going into the rest of the season.”

Tye Simmonds – KTM 450 EXC
Tye Simmonds
Tye Simmonds

“It was a good weekend, we got good points and we’re not injured, everything is all good so overall I’m happy.  Between January 1 and now we’ve come a long way and made good progress. I’m a little bummed on yesterday – it felt like the track beat me because I struggled a lot, but today we turned it around and got some good results, we got a second outright in a test, and we were pretty close to the boys – I think I was like two or three seconds off third outright, so we didn’t quite get to the podium, but overall we’re happy. A lot of positives.”

Jack Simpson – KTM 250 SX-F
Jack Simpson
Jack Simpson

“We’ve featured in the series already, which is a bit unexpected. On Saturday I won the first three sprints convincingly and was sitting fourth outright, then all of a sudden I lost 14 seconds in one sprint without even a crash or any issue, so something’s strange about that, but I couldn’t get that time back. Anyway, I copped it on the chin and used it as fire in the belly and I smoked them by 20 seconds today. It’s a 100% stock engine on the little 250 too! Ben Grabham and Chucky and Tye have been giving me a lot of support, so thanks to them for that. I got a little bit stale on the motocross and switched to off-road and the atmosphere is much more friendly and encouraging, even between the competitors. I like it.”

Lachy Stanford – Husqvarna FE501
Lachy Stanford
Lachy Stanford

“I’m stoked at how things went this weekend. I was only out of the top three in 3 to 4 tests over the whole weekend. Really happy with my performance. A huge thanks to the Husqvarna Enduro Team for supporting me and showing me where I can improve. Glenn was sharing advice with me and Jon Hafey came along too; he has a lot of knowledge and helped a lot. The FE501 was just amazing. It was unreal and I felt really fast and comfortable. The Saturday track was quite skatey – I was glad for my Pirelli tyres – and today’s track was a lot rougher, but I was only a second off the lead in the last test. It shows that all the hard pre-season work is starting to pay off.”

Josh Green – Yamaha WR450F
Josh Green
Josh Green

“I felt pretty good on the bike all weekend but just pushed a bit hard in a couple of tests each day and that cost me. I just needed to stay calm and get the job done instead of over- riding it and going down.  The WR450F proved to be awesome over the weekend and the extra step up in power made for a pretty exciting weekend. But to be in second place after the weekend and know that my speed and fitness is good and I’m 100% healthy leaves me well placed and looking forward to the next rounds.”

Beau Ralston – Yamaha WR480F
Beau Ralston
Beau Ralston

“I was pretty consistent over the weekend, although I certainly felt better on the bike on Saturday and it showed in the results. Sunday wasn’t bad but my riding was just a bit off and with the tests being a little faster due to the rain, I wasn’t quite able to generate the speed I needed. Otherwise, the weekend was smooth sailing and the bike is working well. I have a couple of weeks before the next round so with the opening round out of the way, now I can relax and ride properly,” Ralston explains.

Chris Hollis – Yamaha WR450F
Chris Hollis
Chris Hollis

“The conditions didn’t really suit me so I raced fairly conservatively all weekend with the aim of putting myself in contention, not knocking myself out of contention. “ also understand that I can’t do 12 rounds of that and expect to win a championship but now we are under way, I will pick things up and make my presence felt.”

Tom McCormack – Yamaha
Tom McCormack
Tom McCormack

“It’s good to be back and even better to get through the weekend without any issues. It wasn’t the fastest I have ever raced but it was good to get back out there and get a race under my belt at this level and I’m sure it will do me good. Saturday I rode pretty tight and was a bit nervous, Sunday was better and a step in the right direction. If I can continue to improve like that each round I will be happy so I will just focus on one round at a time and do the best I can,” he concludes.

CDR Yamaha Team Manager – Craig Dack

“Chris rode well within himself over the weekend and I’m sure he can unlock plenty more speed in the coming rounds. Tom just needed to get this weekend done and dusted with no dramas and get some confidence back in his body and racing, which is exactly what he did.  I think you will see both guys really up the intensity at the next round and start to make some moves up the championship standings.”

Tayla Jones – Yamaha YZ250FX
Tayla jones
Tayla jones

“Electing to race the guys is so can I challenge myself to be a better rider and race with more intensity than I would if I was racing the other girls. “The weekend was a big learning curve for me and E1 is so competitive this year. I was pretty nervous on Saturday but I was able to relax a bit on Sunday and I rode so much better. The Active8 Yamaha team have been awesome and it’s nice to be able to discuss what’s happening out on the tests with the team so I can continue to improve. My YZ250FX ran great all weekend and now I know what to expect, things should be better again at the next round,” Tayla ends.

Active8 Yamaha team manager, AJ Roberts

“Both Josh and Beau have positioned themselves well after the opening weekend despite not being at their best. We can work with both of them to clean up any issues over the weekend and keep building momentum as the championship progresses. Tayla did really well for her first major race in E1. The class is pretty tough this year and the heat was sapping all weekend so for her to place where she did is a good result. I’m sure she wants to do better and will go home and work hard but it was a good start and now with some E1 familiarity, she will be a better rider for it.”

Broc Grabham – Husqvarna FE450

“I struggled a bit all weekend with the track conditions. It was a difficult track to go fast on, a lot of people ended up going to hospital today. I was a bit scared really. They were mostly the same tracks as last year so much of it was already pretty much flogged out before we started with big ruts and roots sticking through and braking bumps already, so they only got worse. It wasn’t a bad start to the series though, I ended up 10th outright yesterday and I think 15thtoday, and there are a lot of rounds to go.”

Lyndon Snodgrass – Husqvarna TE300

“I’m happy to come away from the first and second rounds of the AORC with solid points in fifth place. I was really happy with the TE 300, it was awesome and I feel really comfortable on it. I just need to work on my consistency a bit with my sprints and just minimise my mistakes.”

Fraser Higlett – Husqvarna FE350
Fraser Higlett
Fraser Higlett

“I made a few too many mistakes, but, I’m learning and overall it was good. On Saturday I was 19 outright and a second in U19, which is pretty good because I had a couple of big crashes, not the kind that you want to be having all the time. There was no damage that couldn’t be fixed though, and I still rode today and got 4th in U19 and 22nd outright.  I think I was taking it a bit easier today, the crash I had in that last sprint on Saturday scared me a bit. My bike was awesome, I haven’t even done the suspension yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m sitting third in the Under 19 championship, so I’m pretty happy with that start to the season.”

Mitch Harper Husqvarna – FE350
Mitch Harper
Mitch Harper

“In the second sprint today, I came around and went to go over some tree roots and one kicked me out sideways and crossed me up and I came off. I tweaked my back a bit – it felt a bit funny so I got my breath back and crawled off the track, but I didn’t want to take any chances because of my previous injuries and I pulled out for the day. According the scans I’ve had tonight the back looks okay, but the stump I hit yesterday morning fractured two of my metatarsals…”

Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney – Husqvarna FE250
Glenn Kearney
Glenn Kearney

“Lachy was exceptional. He finally did what I’ve been saying he’s going to do for a long time. He was only ever seconds away from Chucky on Saturday, then today came out swinging, set some fastest laps, went off the boil in the middle, but was able to regroup. I was very impressed. For me yesterday was a struggle with the speed and the heavy braking demands on my shoulder – today suited me better. I used a lot of strapping tape and just a few Panadol and Nurofens. I was thinking about throwing in the towel yesterday when it was hurting and but I stuck with it and got some class points. Today I thought I’d be fairly sore but the shoulder felt looser so that was a confidence booster for me. I managed fifth in class, I think I was only eight seconds off second, and 12th outright. So I was happy given what we had to work with. Mitch rode really well in the fast stuff against some of the world’s best guys. Broc and Lyndon probably weren’t where they expected to be but these conditions were tough. Fraser did really well with 2nd and 4th, but had some mistakes and crashes.”

Ben Grabham – KTM Enduro Racing Team Manager

“I’m very happy, that was the perfect start to the AORC with Chucky wrapping up the outright on both days. Tye had a good weekend, with fifth yesterday and fourth today, and is sitting fourth outright with some decent points. We’re sitting pretty after some pretty tough conditions to be honest. You could have easily thrown away the championship here, but we’re looking good. The boys have been doing everything that we could have asked from them since the year ticked over, and obviously it’s shown, and Jack Simpson showed that he’s definitely a class contender as well.”

AORC Results – After Round 2 (Provisional)
Outright

1st Daniel Saunders – 50

2nd Josh Green – 42

3rd Lachlan Stanford – 42

4th Tye Simmonds – 34

5th Beau Ralston – 32

E3 Over 455cc)

1st Daniel Saunders

2nd Lachlan Saunders

3rd Beau Ralston

E2 (450cc)

1st Josh Green

2nd Tye Simmonds

3rd Chris Hollis

E1 (250cc)

1st Jack Simpson

2nd Scott Keegan

3rd Riley Graham

= 3rd Stefan Granquist