Bellino takes overall A4DE win, with Milner regulated to third by retiring Hollis on final day
It was a fresh and frosty start to the final day of the 2016 Yamaha Australian Four Days Enduro Championship at Merrijig in Victoria, and with the daunting challenge ahead for competitors, tensions were high.
Leaving Parc Ferme first thing this morning, there were three men demanding the attention of all spectators. Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team’s Mathias Bellino, CDR Yamaha’s four time A4DE Champion Daniel Milner and CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis clinging to third in his final event before retirement.
Although anticipating racing this afternoon, competitors had to turn their attention to one final test around the already built Final Moto track. Despite the top three being favourites to win the first test of the day, it was this year’s rookie KTM mounted Jack Simpson who cracked the throttle on to finish with a final time of 3:14.269.
Next to fire across the finish line with the fastest times, were CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis (3:17.925) and Yamaha mounted Brad Hardaker with a final test time of 3:18.428. Bellino and Milner finished the Stoney Moto Test in 6th and 9th positions respectively with damp and misty conditions proving challening first up this morning.
The natural Motocross terrain style track offered no forgiving elements, with the dust, rocks and jumps set to play havoc in racing today. Before the E1, E2 and E3 classes could battle it out in the Final Moto to conclude their Four Days of competition, the Masters, Veterans, and Women’s tried their hand at the demanding course first to cement their fate in their respective classes.
Bikes launched off the grid in a rumble of machines, marking the commencement of the A4DE Championship E1 Final Moto. Active8 Yamaha Yamalube’s Josh Green had all eyes pinned to the front as he took the hole shot, leading from his remaining competitors.
By the end of the first lap, Green had a clear lead followed by Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team’s Glenn Kearney, and after a battle through the first corner Simpson was sitting third, pushing to catch the tail of the Husqvarna in front of him.
Although it seemed Simpson would catch the Kearny in a heated fight, by the conclusion of the race, the positions remained the same. Green claimed victory solidifying an E1 Championship win after a long year of recovering from surgery.
Josh Green – Outright P4 – E1 P1
“It’s awesome to be back racing, 2016 hasn’t been my best year and sitting on the sidelines watching everyone race has been so frustrating that it was driving me crazy. I had just over three weeks of riding before the event started so it was a pretty intense build up but I did the right rehab, the Active8 Yamaha team were fully prepared and we go the job done. I’m stoked! Thank you to AJ and the team for another great event. It doesn’t feel like work when I’m with these guys and it’s an awesome environment for racing.”
Kearny in his final race before heading in to retirement settled for second in the race therefore second in the E1 Championship. Kearney was given an emotional guard of honour by some of the sport’s most significant figures as he left the track after the final motocross.
Glenn Kearney – E1 P2
“My last moto was a bit emotional. All the main people around were there to come up and form a bit of a guard of honour for the final send off, so that was pretty good, it was cool. In the final moto I got a reasonable start and then just tucked in behind Josh Green and rode it out and managed to hold Jack Simpson behind me because it was quite dusty. I used the dust to my advantage …dragged my feet a little (laughs)! From the team point of view it was exceptional, the Husqvarna Trade Team won the Trade Team award with Mathias, Lachy and myself. Mathias taking out the overall was also huge, he rode unbelievably well and consistently the whole time. We had a huge contingent of people involved to fuel and feed four guys and it went perfectly so I thank everybody.
“It was a little bittersweet to finish second in E1 but I’m happy to still be competitive. Lachy rode awesome all event and unfortunately just got pipped at the post – he’s got more raw ability than anybody else on the track so hopefully he uses this loss as fuel for the fire through the off-season and comes back stronger. The other boys had an excellent week, Broc had a slow start being sick the night before the race, but he came on strong until he got hurt on the trail yesterday – just unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Snodgrass was strong the whole event and Fraser did really well – it was his first four-day. Damo was there in the vets the whole time too, it was a really good representation for Husky across the board.”
Coming off the back of what has been a whirlwind year for the young ex motocross demon Jack Simpson, he took a third place position to make it one hell of a year for the young gun. Proving he has well and truly dropped the Motorcross title and joined the Enduro family as a respected and anticipated Enduro rider.
Husqvarna mounted Brisbane teenager Fraser Higlett rode with a smoothness and consistency beyond his years as he completed his first four-day in sixth place, and with the top 20 outright finish (18th).
The race to watch today was the E2 class, where Bellino, Milner and Hollis went head to head fighting to take home championship glory. Milner had more at stake than most, as he was in the running to win his fifth Yamaha A4DE consecutively, writing his name in to the history books.
Scurrying off the line bar to bar the E2 class catapulted off, fighting to take the hole shot at turn one. Milner shoved his Yamaha up the inside and was the first man out of the corner howeverteam mate Hollis made the move over the Force Accessories jump stealing the lead.
Unfortunately for Milner his bad luck didn’t stop there, a crash relegated him relegated him back several positions, with Bellino and Motul Pirelli Sherco Factory Team’s Matthew Phillips now sitting second and third respectively, all on the first lap of the race.
Hollis, looking all too comfortable on his Yamaha, began to widen the gap through the corners and by lap three had almost five seconds on Bellino. By the fourth lap the gaps between the top four had further lengthened, each seconds apart from the rider behind.
Spectators were on the edge of their seats and lining the fences to witness the battle unfolding on track. There was a roar of praise when Hollis crossed the line for the final time cementing a win, and finishing off his Enduro career on a high, with second place overall.
Chris Hollis – E2 P2 – Outright P2
“I wanted to finish my career on a high and my goal was to finish in the top three so to be able to achieve that in an event like this is a good feeling. The dust was pretty bad in the final moto so I knew a good start was important and I was able to get to the lead pretty quickly and just do my own thing. It’s been an awesome week and so many people have come up to me and wished me well for the future so it’s been a real special way to end my career. Thank you to the event organisers for a great four day and to the CDR Yamaha team and our sponsors who are the best in the business. I also want to send out a get well to Tom McCormack who crashed on early in the week, hope he is back to full fitness soon.”
Bellino did all he had to, fulfilling what he came to do – to win not only the E2 Championship but also the outright Championship after four long days of heat, physical challenges, and stiff competition from Yamaha rival Milner.
Mathias Bellino – Outright P1 – E2 P1
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, there were not that many tests but they were awesome to ride, especially the fourth one. So, it was enjoyable. It was a great event, I’m glad I came this year, because it was fun to ride it also when you win that helps! Everything went well for us and the bike was working perfectly like it did all season. I had to work with a completely new crew and some things that were different to Europe. Here you have to have your own bumbag and Camelbak at every test and it was actually a tough race; Day Two especially, was more tough than any six-day or anything else I’ve done. Nine tests and uphill and down hill, it was quite tough. It’s really good to win here especially in front of the fast guys like Milner, Sanders, Chris Hollis, so it was good to fight against them, especially Chris, he’s a good guy. I’m really happy to get this victory, for myself and for the team. So it is great to finish like that.”
Although Matthew Phillips finished third in the final Moto, Milner had still done enough to win third in both the E2 and the outright Championship, with World Enduro GP Champion Phillips finishing fourth in the E2 Championship.
Daniel Milner – Outright P3 – E2 P3
“Overall, the first three days were pretty good and I put myself in a position to win this year but it wasn’t to be. I fell in the final moto and the dust was pretty bad making it difficult to pass and I just didn’t get it done. I have no excuses and I congratulate Mathias and Chris on a great week of racing. All of us were pretty close and they were both riding well. I wanted to make it five in a row but I didn’t so I will be back next year to start a new streak.”
Husqvarna FE 450 rider Broc Grabham trailed home World Champion Matt Phillips to finish fifth in the E2 class.
Broc Grabham – E2 P5
“I’m pretty happy – E2 this year around was really something. My outright position I was a little unhappy with. I got really crook the night before the event, only slept about an hour and spewed up all night. So going into the first day I wasn’t feeling that energised. I finished 16th then, but I got a bit better as I went and knew I could go quick. But it’s hard to make up the time you’ve lost. Then yesterday I was riding along with Daniel Sanders and a lob bounced up after he went over it and I had a decent crash and tweaked my wrist. The times were pretty close this morning between me and Kearney and Jack Simpson and Riley Graham, but I got a crap start and was 13th on the first lap. I just could not see the track at all; I might as well have had my eyes closed for the majority of the time. Coming from 16th up to as high as seven is a positive for me, but it’s a shame we couldn’t stay there and finish inside the top 10. We’ll be back next year.”
Wil Ruprecht took sixth in the E2 class, while Simmonds finished seventh in a highly competitive E2 category.
Tye Simmonds – E2 P7
“It was a pretty crap result in terms of what we all know I’m capable of, but like they say you only get out what you put in. With the amount of work I’ve been juggling lately, my preparation was terrible, so I deserve the results that I got. I knew I was going to be behind the eight ball right from the start, but we were a long way off. That was my second four-day and it was good to be back with the team and hanging out with the boys, I actually really liked the ride, the trails were really cool and some of the tests were really good to ride. The pollen was killing me with my allergies, so we’ve had a pretty rough week in that department. I was really glad to get to all the tests because being out on the trails was killing me with sneezing all the time and snot going everywhere, but once I got to the tests, all that stopped. She was a wild old ride!”
The final race of the day was between the E3 competitors – particularly Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team’s Lachlan Stanford who only had four seconds lead on second placed KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel Sanders in the overall Championship standings. By the time bikes were lined up on the grid, the temperature had hit 30 degrees and the sun was belting over Merrijig.
Stanford was the man of the moment, who took the hole shot and the lead. However, pushing a little too hard at the beginning of the race Stanford fell victim to the dust and the powder on the ground, crashing. Managing to redeem himself Stanford dropped to fifth position.
Yamaha mounted Tommy Mason was the man behind Stanford, slipping straight in to first place after the crash, with a hard charging and determined KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel Sanders just behind.
By the second lap Sanders had pulled an even bigger gap on Stanford who throughout the back section of the track managed his way to third position, now hunting down a second placed Sanders. Sanders pushed to steal the lead from Mason and kept pushing to open up a gap between the pair.
On the showing of the last lap board, lapped riders came in to play but with the top three all spread out there was no advantage gained as ‘Chucky’ performed a heel clicker coming over the finish line with one lap to go.
With positions remaining the same on the final lap it was Sanders who crossed the finish line victorious. Sanders had done enough throughout the Final Moto to eradicate Stanford from the overall lead, taking the E3 Championship as his own.
Daniel “Chucky” Sanders – E3 P1 – Outright P5
“I mixed up on a couple of things with the settings that I run, and we missed out for the first two days and I wasn’t really right in the head about it. I started to get some confidence back in my riding on day three when we figured out what the problems were, but I tore a ligament in my ankle on day two, and just had to bite the bullet on day three. I was 20 seconds down by that stage, so I just focused on getting the class win, and we got there in the end after a really good final moto. A bit of my fault that I didn’t pick up on some things early enough, and it probably wasn’t the best preparation knocking myself around at Wildwood the week before. I didn’t finish the season off the way I would have liked to, but to have a really bad four-day and still win a class, you can’t really complain.”
Sanders celebrated with an all Australian “Shoey” among the spectator lined fence to congratulate the man in orange. Although Tom Mason finished the race in second, it was third placed Stanford who was relegated to second in the championship, leaving the final position on the E3 Championship podium to Husqvarna mounted Lyndon Snodgrass.
Lyndon Snodgrass – E3 P3
“I ended up 12th outright and 3rd in class – my four-day was a tough one but I definitely had a lot of fun out there in conditions that got very dry and dusty. Crossing the finish line in that horrid final moto today was my highlight of the event, I couldn’t see anything after big Lachy got by me! After the DNF last year, the goal was to finish this one and try to do the best we can so I’m pretty happy. I’m a little disappointed on my outright position after being inside the top 10 for two days, but I’m stoked to get third in class!”
Chris Davey was thrown into the Active8 Yamaha team at the last minute when regular member, Beau Ralston, couldn’t recover in time from an injury but did a credible job in flying the team flag in the E3 division. Davey claimed fourth in the E3 class.
Chris Davey – E3 P4
“Having the support of the Active8 Yamalube Yamaha team behind you in an event like this makes life so much easier. Even though I wasn’t in contention, the team gave me all the support I needed and it was a fun week working with them. Fourth in the E3 class is a good result and the riders ahead of me are talented so it was no shame finishing behind them.”
In the Masters Final Moto, the over 45s class lined up at the starting gate ready to kick their bikes in to gear for their six lap race. Aussie enduro mainstay and class favourite, David ‘Flea’ Fleming was the man who got the hole shot leading the Masters class through the lengthy dust track.
After pulling a decent gap on the rest of the field, Fleming looked to have it locked in the bag. Increasing his lead each lap his efforts on the throttle culminating to adding another Championship title to his collection. In true celebratory fashion, the flamboyant Flea finished across the line in first.
Brett Steel and Jason Salopayevs both cemented their fate today concluding the four days in second and third respectively in the Masters class Championship.
As soon as the Master’s were off the track, attention turned to the Veteran’s (Over 35s) class as they too were gunning for Championship glory with one final and manic dash to the flag. Although leading the Championship, Rees sat in third for most of the Final Moto allowing Kirk Hutton to slip through and take first place.
Damian Smith and Dylan Rees sat second and third respectively. With the combined times over the four days tallied, it was Dylan Rees who was a forgone conclusion, coming out victorious claiming the 2016 Yamaha A4DE Veterans Championship. Damien Smith and Kirk Hutton equally taking the second and third position on the Championship podium respectively.
Active8 Yamaha Yamalube’s Tayla Jones, was an absolute force to be reckoned with in the Women’s Championship. Jones pulled straight off the start, winding on the throttle to lead by a mile before the half way marker in the first lap!
Jessica Gardiner fought off the hard charging girls to remain in second, chasing Jones’ ever extending gap while the battle on track played out for third between Tamara Gray and Sophie Coldcicutt.
Gray took third at the last, although nothing could overshadow Tayla’s intense speed and skill which saw her launch over the finish line in and blur of pink and blue, the Yamaha rider truly cementing her winning 2016 Yamaha A4DE Championship efforts.
Tayla Jones – Women’s Championship P1
“Winning an event like this is always special as it is such an important race in the year. This year it was dry and dusty but there were plenty of challenges along the way so it was never easy. The Active8 Yamaha team were awesome and the support the team and Yamaha have shown me this year has been amazing so it’s nice to reward them with a national championship.”
Despite a mighty fight from Gardiner in the Final Moto it was Jemma Wilson who had the quickest time over the four days to take second in the Women’s Championship, with Gardiner in third.
With the final day of the 2016 Yamaha Four Days Enduro Championship over and with all class Championships crowned and the outright title taken by French man Bellino, competitors now make their way home to recover until next year’s competition.
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