Toby Price doubles Aratula AORC

KTM Enduro Racing Team rider Toby Price ignored the pain of a niggling foot injury to move two wins closer to a successful defence of his AORC number one plate at Aratula in Queensland over the weekend.

The injury, which he sustained in pre-running for the Finke Desert race, meant Price had virtually no seat time with which to re-acclimatise from the insanely high-speeds of Finke to the relatively modest pace of enduro racing, but someone forgot to tell the defending champion, who got the better of a weekend long battle with Chris Hollis to extend his mid-season winning streak to five consecutive AORC rounds (and of course, Finke).

While the tighter conditions were less than ideal for the monstrous grunt of his KTM 500 EXC, the Maitland ace extended his championship lead to 42 points over Josh Green, with KTM Enduro Racing Team mate Daniel Sanders retaining third place overall.

Toby Price
Toby Price

Toby Price – KTM 500 EXC  – “That’s the result you are always aiming for, so it’s good to come out with the two wins. The championship, points-wise is now looking pretty good, but like I say, there is still a lot of points up for grabs, so we’ll make sure we keep our heads down and keep doing what we are doing until the finish and keep enjoying it and having fun. I was a little bit shocked with the result, because when I was walking the tracks I was looking around and thinking this is going to be pretty hard work on the big girl. Me and Chris were having a good battle, but we got the job done. The 500 is not really suited to that tight stuff, but then again I guess it shows what a good bike it is that it can actually put up with those conditions and come away with the win.”

The Aratula AORC round win topped off a remarkable month of racing for Toby Price, in which he has gone through the last two AORC weekends undefeated (four outright wins) as well as claiming his fourth Finke Desert Race crown.

Chris Hollis, who has battled injury all season long, damaging shoulders, elbows and hands so far this season, finally made it to an AORC round 100% fit and ready to race and instantly his results reflected that with the E2 category victory both days on board his Yamaha YZ450F – “It was nice to finally get a round where I was fit and able to ride the way I want to ride and not just try and get by. It also felt good to be back near the front and competing for Outright wins. I know Toby carried an injury into the event but it was pleasing that on both days we were able to build a gap over the field. The CDR Yamaha team have continued to support me throughout the year despite my injuries and hopefully now we can put them all behind us and finish the season off strongly and get this bike and team up where it belongs,” Hollis said determinedly.

Chris Hollis
Chris Hollis

Active8 Yamaha’s Beau Ralston rounded out the podium, while Daniel Sanders (Motorex KTM Off-Road Team) and Josh Green (Active8 Yamaha, E1 class winner) occupied the remaining positions in the top five.

Beau Ralston – “Each round I try to race as fast as I can, yet as consistently as I can because I think that is really important in a 12 round championship. This was the one and only Enduro format race and with so many special tests over the weekend, it is easy to over-ride, fall and potentially hurt yourself so it was good to get through unscathed and keep my momentum going in the championship,” Ralston ends.

Beau Ralston
Beau Ralston

Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders – KTM 300 EXC – “We made a step forward I guess, I’m just learning all these conditions. Down our way it’s just so wet, we don’t get any dry stuff. Yesterday I was back in eighth and we changed the bike setting a bit. That made a difference in the last two tests, so then I knew what I had to do and I got full confidence back on the bike again today, so I could push it and not make those mistakes, which definitely showed, and we finished fourth – a big improvement. It got a bit punishing towards the end here, but it’s all fun. Every day on the bike is fun.”

Daniel Sanders
Daniel Sanders

Josh Green, fifth outright and E1 class winner on Yamaha YZ250F – “The weekend went pretty well and I was consistent across both days. I would like to have posted some better times in some of the special tests later on Sunday but that’s the way it goes sometimes and gives me a few things to get sorted before the next round. There is a month break before the next round and my goal is to win a round before the season is over so I will be working hard to make that happen.”

Former pro motocross racer Tye Simmonds, the event was significant for being his first ever enduro race, and while many would have considered seventh and sixth outright finishes and a victory in today’s first special test a more than respectable debut at national level, the KTM 450 EXC rider knows what he wants – and this isn’t it.

Tye Simmonds
Tye Simmonds

Tye Simmonds – KTM 450 EXC “Seventh and sixth outright – definitely not the results I was chasing, that’s for sure. It started pretty well for us today when we won the first special test, but it went downhill from there. That second test haunted me all weekend, the others I could be top three, but I struggled with that one, and it bit me on the arse overall, that’s for sure. Grabbo said to me, it is only my first one, but I’ve been a racer all my life and I just want better results. But that’s racing. I didn’t mind enduro as a concept, we just seemed to have bugger-all race time so if you lost time anywhere, it cost you.”

Lachlan Stanford’s smooth, fast style aboard the Husqvarna FE 350 would pay dividends in Queensland, as the Byron Bay rider got to work in familiar terrain, taking a podium finish in the hotly contested E2 class on Saturday, followed by fourth in class on Sunday. Stanford registered sixth and seventh outright positions over the two days, and also wrapped up his third consecutive Queensland Enduro Championship, which was held in conjunction with the AORC round.

Lachlan Stanford
Lachlan Stanford

Lachy Stanford (FE350): “It was pretty fun here, the track was good. The racing was really tight because the tests were short so that made for an interesting weekend. I got through with not many mistakes, and had heaps of fun. I’ve got a little bit more to do on my pace to get faster and make that next step and I’m feeling better than I have been, so I’m pretty happy with my weekend. My fastest test was the first one, but my favourite was probably the real tight one at the end. In and out of little gullies and the tight turns, the 350 just felt really nice in there. It was the perfect size all weekend. I also wrapped up the Queensland championship for the third year running too, winning all three rounds at Kilkivan, Mt. Perry and Aratula.”

Still adapting to the limitations of a fused right ankle after he had reconstructive surgery over the off-season, Glenn Kearney and his Husqvarna FE 501 were in scintillating form on Saturday, registering fourth position outright, and second in the E3 class behind the weekend’s outright winner of both days, Toby Price. Short special tests placed maximum pressure on riders to be as consistent as they were fast, and a slip-up in the first special test of the day meant that Kearney could not replicate yesterday’s heroics on the outright scoreboard, and he was forced to accept ninth overall and third in class for today.

Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team Manager Glenn Kearney (FE501): “Overall I’m happy with the weekend. Lachy rode well yesterday and was third in class and sixth outright. Today he was seventh outright and I think just 0.2 of a second in front of me.It was disappointing to be ninth today after coming fourth yesterday, but with such short tests and any sort of mistake was just amplified and if you lost a chunk of five or 10 seconds, it was unachievable to get it back. My second in class yesterday is the best class result I’ve had this year so I’m on the improve, and that’s good. I got some really good test times here, and again today I had a couple of third outrights in tests, so I was happy to get back to the pointy end at least in some of them. I think where I was losing time was in the rear braking skid turns, of which there were a heap in the grass track tests. With the little bit of prep that we had with this new setup, I think we did quite well, so we should be in a much better position for the next one.”

Glenn Kearney
Glenn Kearney

Ben Grabham, KTM Team Manager – “It was a tough weekend in that they did eight special tests a day, but only about 44 minutes of total special test time for the weekend. So you make one mistake and you’re at the back of the field.  Toby got the outright both days which was a pretty good effort with just how tight the tracks were and how different from Finke. Our 500 is an easy bike to ride, but it’s still not easy in those tight conditions, so he did a really good job. Daniel started off a little bit steady yesterday and got third in E3 and 8th outright. I know he wasn’t happy with it but there was only about 10 seconds covering from about 12th right through to 3rd, and as the day went on we pointed out a few things to him and made some small adjustments. Today I don’t think he dropped below 4th outright for most of the day, and he finished second to Toby in E3, so he should be happy because he’s improving a lot. Tye was a bit similar, but the thing for Tye with his last few results including Finke, it’s easy for people to overlook the fact that it was literally his first enduro ever. I think he did a really good job with seventh outright yesterday and fourth in E2, and today he was fifth outright and third in E2. He went out firing this morning and won the first test outright, so there is no doubt he can do it, it’s just a matter of learning.”

CDR Yamaha Team Manager Craig Dack – “It’s been a tough season so far for CDR Yamaha off road this year with both riders carrying injuries and being forced to miss rounds so it was almost a relief that Chris was able to compete well over the weekend and get some decent results for us. Second place isn’t where the team and Chris want to be but at least we are back in the game and heading in the right direction. It was the morale boosting weekend the team needed and hopefully see us finish the season out with some round wins,” Dack ends.

Active8 Yamaha Team owner AJ Roberts – “It was a solid weekend all round, both guys rode well all weekend and it was pretty smooth sailing which is always good. The riders are happy with the bikes and we will keep working hard all the way until the final test to get the best results possible for our team sponsors.”

In the other classes, the Transmoto 19 and Under category has been turned on its head with just 15 points separating the top four riders in the overall standings.

Suzuki rider Wil Ruprecht claimed Round 8 to make it two wins from two for the weekend- finishing ahead of new class leader Lyndon Snodgrass (Kawasaki Privateer) and Alex Papmanolis (Yamaha Privateer).

The 22 points Snodgrass gained from Round 8 was enough to see him leapfrog into first place in the overall standings, courtesy of previous leader Tom Mason missing the weekend with a broken collarbone and Peter Daniel Allen’s disqualification in this round due to leaving the designated track limits.

In the Women’s, Sunday’s result replicated that of Saturday’s with Tayla Jones continuing on her merry way with yet another win. Jemma Wilson and Emelie Karlsson made it a Yamaha 1-2-3 in the class with a second and third place respectively.

Suzuki Privateer Trent Lean went one better than Saturday’s result to win the Masters’ class, while it was business as usual at the front of the field for Yamaha Racing’s Kirk Hutton in the Veteran’s class.

In the juniors, Fraser Higlett (Husqvarna) got the better of Ben Kearns (KTM) in their ongoing duel atop the J4 class, while Corey Hammond (KTM) broke Mitchell Brierley’s (Kawasaki) five-round winning streak in the J2 category. Joshua Brierley (Kawasaki) again claimed the J3 class.

The 2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship will now head to Kyogle, New South Wales on July 25-26 for Rounds 9 and 10 of the series.

AORC 2015 ROUND 8 OUTRIGHT TOP 10

1st: Toby Price (Motorex KTM Off-Road Racing, E3)

2nd: Chris Hollis (CDR Yamaha, E2)

3rd: Beau Ralston (Active8 Yamaha, E2)

4th: Daniel Sanders (Motorex KTM Off-Road Racing, E3)

5th: Josh Green (Active8 Yamaha, E1)

6th: Tye Simmonds (Motorex KTM Off-Road Racing, E2)

7th: Lachlan Stanford (Husqvarna Off-Road Racing, E2)

8th: Broc Grabham (Motul Pirelli Sherco Enduro Team, E2)

9th: Glenn Kearney (Husqvarna Off-Road Racing, E3)

10th: Scott Keegan (Husqvarna Privateer, E2)

AORC 2015 Outright Standings – After Round Eight

1st Toby Price – 193

2nd Josh Green – 151

3rd Daniel Saunders – 140

4th Beau Ralston – 136

5th Tye Simmonds – 123

6th Chris Hollis – 118 

7th Lachlan Stanford – 115

8th Glenn Kearney – 112

E2

1st Beau Ralston – 170

2nd Tye Simmonds – 151

3rd Chris Hollis – 139 

Round Seven Report – Saturday

A change in race format and an injured right foot have done little to stop Toby Price from claiming his sixth round win for the 2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship at Aratula on Saturday.

The Motorex KTM Off-Road Team star extended his lead on top of the overall championship standings and the E3 Class with a win in the Round 7 enduro, edging our CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis (E2 class winner) and Active8 Yamaha’s Josh Green (E1 class winner).

Husqvarna Off-Road Racing Team’s Glenn Kearney and Green’s Active8 Yamaha teammate Beau Ralston rounded out the top five.

Price, who was visibly restricted while walking courtesy of an ankle injury suffered in his successful Finke Desert Race campaign a fortnight earlier, fought his way back after trailing Hollis early.

Hollis led after five timed tests before Price seized control in the sixth to ultimately finish just over four seconds quicker after eight tests.

In the Transmoto 19 and Under class, Suzuki rider Wil Ruprecht recorded his first class win for the year and in the process finished 13th in the outright standings. He finished ahead of Yamaha Privateer Peter Daniel Allen and Kawasaki’s Lyndon Snodgrass.

In the Women’s, it was Yamaha Racing’s Tayla Jones who again took out the class honours. Despite the absence of her nearest rival in the championship standings Jess Gardiner due to a broken arm, Jones was pushed all the way by Yamaha duo Jemma Wilson and Emelie Karlsson in second and third place respectively.

Robert Day was the standout rider in the Masters’ class, while Kirk Hutton romped to his seventh class win in succession in the Veterans.

In the juniors, it was another good day for the Brierley family with twins Josh and Mitchell taking out the J3 and J2 classes respectively, while Ben Kearns closed the gap on Fraser Higlett in the overall class standings with a victory in the J4 class.

The eighth round of the 2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship will again take place in Aratula on Sunday, with riders taking on the enduro format for the second day in a row.

AORC 2015 ROUND 7 OUTRIGHT TOP 10

1. Toby Price (Motorex KTM Off-Road Racing, E3 Class)

2. Chris Hollis (CDR Yamaha, E2 Class)

3. Josh Green (Active8 Yamaha, E1 Class)

4. Glenn Kearney (Husqvarna Off-Road Racing, E3 Class)

5. Beau Ralston (Active8 Yamaha, E2 Class)

6. Lachlan Stanford (Husqvarna Off-Road Racing, E2 Class)

7. Tye Simmonds (KTM Off-Road Racing, E2 Class)

8. Daniel Sanders (KTM Off-Road Racing, E3 Class)

9. Geoff Braico (KTM Privateer, E2 Class)

10. Broc Grabham (Motul Pirelli Sherco Enduro Team, E2 Class)