The Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) concluded its two round weekend at Bulahdelah today.
Racing started straight away for the seniors who conducted a parade and one lap on course two yesterday afternoon, the slightly more technical course made for a few changes on yesterday’s leader board.
Tom McCormack (Active8 Yamaha) came storming out of the gates in the first lap and placed himself first in the E1 class, shuffling round one’s leader Peter Boyle (Motorex KTM) to second place, McCormack held the lead in all four laps, finishing the day in first from Boyle and Scott Keegan (Husqvarna Enduro Racing) in third.
In the E3 class, Glenn Kearney (Husqvarna Enduro Racing) threatened to pick up where he left off yesterday when he was fastest in the opening loop, ultimately though, Jarrod Bewley would clinch the top spot for team (Husaberg) followed by Kearney and Geoff Braico (Husaberg)
Australia’s world beating off-road team claimed the top three spots in the Women’s division, Tayla Jones (KTM) went to first switching places with European bound Jess Gardiner (Sherco) and Jemma Wilson (Yamaha) improved on her round one performance to clinch the third podium position, the three women are sure to play out an exciting battle throughout AORC 2014!
The brand new Transmoto 19 & Under class was again dominated by Daniel Chucky Sanders (KTM), he put a stamp of authority on the class by claiming first in both rounds this weekend, round two saw him over 40 seconds faster than second place Kane Hall (Redline Motorsports) with Broc Grabham (KTM) in third.
It was a dramatic day in the premier E2 class on Sunday, after the first lap many thought yesterday’s number one overall Toby Price (Motorex KTM) would carry on his winning performance after claiming first in lap one, however a vastly improved performance by Daniel Milner (CDR Yamaha) was quickly closing the gap between himself and Price.
A crash from Price in lap three saw Milner make up a huge amount of time, Price returned to the pits and made a brave decision to race in the final lap of the day, however common sense prevailed and Price, clearly in immense pain, retired less than a kilometre in to the lap.
It was a bittersweet victory for Milner who quickly checked on Price’s health after the racing was completed, Chris Hollis (CDR Yamaha) was second in the class and Josh Green (Active8 Yamaha) took third.
Overall, Milner claimed top spot followed by another second from Hollis, Bewley, Green and Beau Ralston (Active8 Yamaha) who was one of the surprise packets of the weekend, the former MX rider performed exceptionally well in his first AORC performance.
In the Junior classes, Will Ruprecht took out the J4, Ben Kearns first in J3 and Jarrod Ramsay topped the J2 class.
The next two Yamaha AORC rounds (3 & 4) will be held in Queensland over the Easter Weekend on April 19-20 in Boyland.
Husaberg Enduro Racing Team rider Jarrod Bewley has concluded a difficult weekend in the best possible style, placing his Husaberg FE 501 atop the AORC E3 podium in the beginning of the brand’s final year as a distributor-backed team in Australia.
Like many, Bewley wrestled with the combination of high speeds, thick dust, and powdery trails on the first day of the Australian off Road Championships at Bulahdelah – a crash early on not helping his confidence – and he finished third in class and 11th overall on Saturday.
However, the Oberon rider rebounded on Sunday with a renewed determination, to take the class win and third outright, placing him second in the E3 championship after two of 12 rounds.
Teammate Geoff Braico also found it difficult to harness the Mojo after early scares in sketchy conditions, however, many would consider a pair of fourth-place finishes in his first race on the Husaberg FE350, and in the star-studded Premier E2 class, a more than honest result.
GEOFF BRAICO – Rd.1: E2-4th, O/R 13th. Rd.2: E2-4th, O/R 11th: “The conditions were really pretty tough here; fast, hot, dry, rocky, dusty …scary conditions. The organisers did what they could, but the weather conditions were against them. The track was super fast and it had me beaten from the word go – I had a few big moments early on and from then on my mindset was no good, and it didn’t help when Pricey and Milner got hurt. Needless to say the weekend didn’t go as I’d wanted. Fourth place is okay considering how the E2 field is pretty stacked and the results were close. My mechanic, Drew was awesome; we mucked around with the suspension today once the track was really chewed out, and made some good progress. Overall I’m just happy to get through safe, it was a track that could bite you at any time so it was not the most pleasant of weekends, and the bike never knew what you wanted it to do. But we learned a lot and the E2 podium is now my goal, and I know what I can work on.”
JARROD BEWLEY – Rd.1: E3-3rd, O/R 11th, Rd.2: E3-1st, O/R 3rd: “For me it didn’t start off the best, I crashed on the first lap; a silly little crash and some tight trees that snapped off my hand guard and nearly my finger. It cost me some time and my confidence from the start on a track that had tricky, fast, powdery, sketchy ups and downs. Sunday’s track had a lot more singletrack and I tried a different mindset on the FE501 to regroup and finish on a good note, and ended up winning the third race outright which put me in overall third today and first in E3. So it was a real good finish after not a good start, but I think I had some first round jitters and I’ll be right now for the rest of the series.”
Team Manager Glenn Kearney expressed his confidence in his squad’s ability to bring home the bacon prior to Bulahdelah, and the Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team did exactly that, as the 2014 Australian Off-Road Championships burst into life this weekend.
Despite its status as the youngest factory team in the championship, the Husqvarna men’s haul numbered six class podiums.
Scott Keegan suffered a hand injury after clipping a tree but with teeth gritted pushed on to post second then third in the E1 class while evergreen Damian Smith rebounded from last weekend’s knee injury to post back-to-back wins in the Vets class on his Husqvarna FE 350.
Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney (FE501) Rd.1: E3-1st, O/R 2nd, Rd.2: 2nd, O/R 7th “Yesterday was fantastic, I was third outright and won the class and the boys went great.
The results showed good promise, and good speed from all of us, but today’s conditions were tougher, with silty hills and a lot of rocks. It was fairly dangerous and there were a few big crashes. I had one yesterday afternoon but I was lucky it didn’t cost me much. Today though, I made a big mistake in the third race and it cost me 20 seconds. I was second in E2.
Overall though, it was a great first round for us. The team worked well together and everything ran fairly smoothly, the wives and girlfriends really made for a smooth weekend.
One positive to come out of the rough conditions today was that I got the chance to work on my suspension setting for choppy tracks, and finishing second outright on the last lap shows the changes we were making were in the right direction.”
Lachlan Stanford (FE 450) Rd.1: E2-2nd, O/R 3rd – Rd.2: 5th, O/R 8th: “This weekend was okay. The track was pretty rough and dusty and third Overall yesterday should get me close to a top-five position which is where I want to be. The E2 class is pretty stacked with talent but I think I can still do better, if I spend more time on the bike during the week – I think that will help me be faster for the next one.
Yesterday’s was definitely a big bore track – the FE 450 just hauls up the powdery hills. Today on the rough track I struggled with setup a little bit and got eighth Overall. We changed things a bit and the last couple were better, but not enough to get me back up there.”
Scott Keegan (FE 250) Rd.1: E1-2nd, O/R 7th – Rd.2: 3rd, O/R 14th: “I had a few dramas yesterday, it started off really good in the first sprints with a win but I maybe got a little overconfident and hit a tree on the clutch side which split the webbing between my fingers. It needs some stitches. I taped my fingers together and just tried to make it through. Today I was third after a couple of dramas; I had some bad fuel which cost me some time and dropped me down the overall order to third in class. I’m happy with the two podiums from the weekend and the new bike is more than capable. It was a decent start to the championship if not the outright. Glenn’s advice was really helpful, apart from where he advised me to superglue my hand up yesterday!”
Damo Smith (FE 350) Rd.1: Vets-1st, Rd.2: 1st: “It all went good for me, I was being very cautious because my knee was pretty bruised up from last weekend, but that helped me to ride nice and smooth. The bike was awesome too, which made the job easier for sure, the FE 350 was just perfect for the big uphills, and nice and light. I was pretty happy about our first hit out; Glenn on the big bike rode better than I’ve seen him ride in a long time and Scotty had a little bit of bad luck – I’m impressed with all the guys this weekend really.”
In a weekend which contained the most unbelievable highs and lows for the KTM Enduro Racing Team, the last word has been a positive one with confirmation that Toby Price’s injuries are less serious than initially thought and he is not expected to miss the next round of the Australian Off-Road Championship, after injuring himself yesterday at Bulahdelah.
Saturday’s AORC confronted riders with its combination of high speeds, thick dust, rocks, and powdery trails, but while many struggled to find their rhythm, KTM 450 EXC rider Toby Price conducted a clinic, winning the opening sprint by an astonishing 30 seconds before going on to win the premier E2 class, as well as the overall by a comfortable margin.
On the opposite side of the KTM awning, Peter Boyle was also in sublime form on his KTM 250 EXC-F, erasing the uncertainty of the recent enduro-cross season in the most satisfying way – winning the E1 class by over 10 seconds.
Boyle left Bulahdelah with a share of the E1 championship lead after finishing second on day two, while Price began Sunday in familiar, winning fashion, before a solid crash in trees in the third heat left him with injury to his hip, elbow and big toe. Price bravely limped to the starter for the fourth, but physically could not grip the handlebar and was forced to withdraw.
KTM Enduro Racing Team Manager Brad Williscroft: “We had such amazing highs on Saturday and some lows yesterday, but that’s racing sometimes. On Saturday Toby was awesome; in his first lap he came in 30 seconds up on second place. He went out to make a statement and that’s what he did, it was an awesome first ride back in AORC. Peter Boyle’s recent testing really paid off and he rode well for a class win. So to win E2, E1 and the Overall was an amazing start for us. Sunday started much the same with Toby dominating the first two heats and Boyley battling with Tom McCormack. Then in the third one Toby clipped a tree with his hip when he slid in sideways, and then hurt his left arm on another tree. He tried to ride the fourth lap but had no strength in his arm and could not hold on and went off to the hospital. We’ve now had confirmation that Toby’s hip and elbow are badly bruised, not broken. His big toenail will need to be removed and he will have surgery on that – Toby is pretty pleased with the outcome and so are we.”
Toby Price Rd.1 – E2: 1st, O/R 1st, Rd.2: DNF: “I’m bummed I didn’t get the win on Day two, but at least I know my speed is good. The annoying thing was, I wasn’t going overboard, just doing a comfortable pace that was getting me the good times, and just made one little mistake. I hit a rock that I couldn’t see, got deflected, and got out sideways. That’s the frustrating part, if the tree had not have been there I would have corrected it and ridden away. It was hurting pretty damn bad that’s for sure, but at least I can say I tried to finish but if definitely wasn’t possible. Apparently I dislocated my hip, so it and my elbow are badly bruised, and my toenail will have to be removed. But it’s all good, I’ll just put my head down and keep charging forward. I’ll be fine in four weeks and I’ll be at the next round no dramas.”
Peter Boyle Rd.1 – E1: 1st, O/R 6th, Rd.2: E1: 2nd, O/R 12th: “The event was real dusty and rocky but the guy that could get through best was gonna win. I felt good, I think I rode pretty good and I’m very happy with where I’m sitting in the class, but I know can go quicker. I know I can beat the boys in the top ten but I’ve got to do some more work to do to be up there in the outright standings. I really want to work my way up in the overall standings. The 250 EXC-F felt pretty good though in what were difficult conditions, and I’m looking forward to the next round. I hope I can make up some time there – I definitely felt strong.”
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