It was the perfect start to the 2016 Yamaha Australian Four Days Enduro (A4DE) this morning, with the sun shining over the Merrijig location, and anticipation in the air for Prologue today that would determine their starting positions for the remainder of the week.
Sherco mounted Matthew Phillips kicked off the A4DE in fine form monoing over the start line followed by KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders also up on one to signal the start to proceedings. It was CDR Yamaha’s Daniel Milner and defending A4DE champion left third to follow his rivals.
Before the beginning of Prologue today competitors had a chance to pre-ride two of the trails and tests that will be used over the coming four days, before their timed lap around a Motocross style track.
When competition commenced it was French Husqvarna pilot Mathias Bellino finishing top of the charts, one-second ahead of CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis on the timesheets.
Mathias Bellino – Husqvarna FE450
“It’s been a good time in Australia so far, I’ve been travelling the great Ocean Road recently and then walking the tracks for the four-day. So now I am just ready to ride. It seems to be a good track, we have three nice tests especially the fourth one. I just hope that the weather is going to be good – after the rain we’ve had in the last few days, if it can stay away that will be good. I’ve been doing some training and the bike is all set up and ready to go. No worries.”
Bellino finished the dusty and dry track in 2min-12.836s, while Hollis finished the test in 2min13.880.
Matt Phillips pushed his Sherco machine to secure a third placed start against the remaining E1, E2, E3, Women’s, Vet’s and Masters competitors.
Daniel “Chucky” Sanders – KTM 300 EXC
“Some of us riders went out and helped the volunteers and the club in setting out a couple of tests before the event and we made some pretty good tests where you get to overlook some properties, me and Matt Phillips went around putting in some cool lines and stuff, so the boys should enjoy it. But definitely it’s been a good week leading in, and good weather, I’ve got the bike sorted and I’m looking forward to it.
“I got a bit beaten up at Wildwood last weekend and pulled up pretty sore, so I had to get back on top of that, and now I’m looking forward to getting the race started and trying to go to that number one position. We’ve got the strongest field in a A4DE that we maybe ever have, with Milner, Phillips, Bellino, and then you throw in Hollis and Tye, and Wattsy also, he might pop up in a few tests here and there. That will be good seeing him ripping around. It’s definitely going to be a tough one but at the end hopefully it’ll be pretty close between me, Phillips and Milner, and the fastest rider can win.”
I’ve had Wattsy in my corner a fair bit over the years, I did a couple of schools with him when I was younger, just coming through the ranks and it was great getting a few points and some advice from him. He was the only dude ever to win the six-day on a 125, and he’s won pretty much every championship in the world worth winning, so to have him under the tent here and working with us is cool.”
Past World Champion and Multiple Australian Champion Shane Watts finished 11th in Prologue today. Wattsy is campaigning a KTM 125cc machine against the bigger bore bikes in the field.
Shane Watts – KTM 125XCW
“I decide every year to do the four-day but it just doesn’t happen. The last time I did one was 2006, and it just hasn’t worked into my life schedule since, but now that we’re back, it’s like ‘hell yeah I’m going to do it’ as it is a great race to do and it’s been a long time since I got to catch up with all the old familiar faces.
“I definitely have some performance goals, I don’t want to crash and I don’t want to hurt myself, that’s number one, and second is I’d like to win. But then I start to really think about it and I realise I have no chance of ever doing that, so then my main goal at the end of it all is just to have a really good time riding bikes and that’s why I’ve chosen the KTM 125 because if you can’t have a fun time riding that bike you’ve got something wrong with you.
“I’m going to go out and smash around on the 125 and as long as I don’t look at the test times I will feel as though I have won the event because I feel so fast on that bike, but I know that once I look at the times it won’t equate to the way I feel on the bike. So, my goal is just to have a good safe rider just be a part of the event and the result does not matter. That’s why I’m riding E1 instead of veterans, which I’m well and truly eligible for – you could say I’m overqualified for veterans! But I do want to go and ride veterans and be viewed as sandbagging, and even then if I did ride veterans and I got beat everyone would be, “what’s up with that guy?”
“So it’s better for me to ride E1 on a 125 and then when I do get beaten – which will happen – I can say, ‘yeah, but I’m riding a 125, and its underpowered’, or ‘I’m racing a heap of really young kids and they’re really fast’, or ‘I’m just an old guy there that’s lost it now’.
“At least I’ve got some excuses there for the imminent poor performance that I’m going to put on here over the next couple of days!
“I spent a couple of hours when I got here yesterday hanging out over at the KTM truck and that’s a great environment they have there; everyone gets on really well and there are no attitudes. Everyone is joking around and they definitely made me feel more than welcome over there. At’s a top-notch operation they have over there and it feeds into why they have such great results. They’ve got excellent talent in the riders and the mechanics and the team personnel, and you see that on the scoreboard. A happy rider is a fast rider and that team environment is a big part of it. Having said that, maybe my result for this event will weaken that theory a couple of notches!”
Veterans competitor Dylan Rees finished with the 16th fastest time today, while Active8 Yamaha Yamalube’s Tayla Jones finished 34th to be the first woman across the line.
Due to the nature of the event the top three riders Bellino, Hollis and Phillips will all start on the same minute tomorrow, Wednesday the 16th of November, for day one of the 2016 Yamaha Australian Four Days Enduro in Merrijig, Victoria.
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