[Features]

2017 AORC: A Season of Change

5 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: John Pearson Media, Andy Wigan

It almost feels like yesterday that the 12-round 2016 Australian Off-road Championship (AORC) was being decided on the rolling hills of southwest Victoria. But in just three weekends’ time, the AORC’s 2017 season opener gets under way at Dungog in the dirt bike heartland of the Hunter Valley in NSW.

While 2017 will mark the 12th consecutive year that Yamaha has been naming-right sponsor to the AORC, and the third year that Transmoto has been the major sponsor for the Enduro Junior class (EJ, formerly the “19 & Under”), there are some huge changes in store for the series this year. We’ll flesh these out in a more detailed season preview in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, just consider how different the 2017 AORC landscape will look:

  • Only five of last year’s top-10 Outright AORC finishers will line up at Dungog. The reigning Outright champ, Daniel Sanders, is racing Enduro GP in Europe. Runner-up (and E2 class champ), Tye Simmonds, will be focusing his energy on desert racing only in 2017. Third Outright and former two-time champ, Chris Hollis, has retired. And both Glenn Kearney and Tom McCormack have also officially hung up their boots.
  • Gone also for 2017 is Yamaha’s CDR Yamaha Off-Road team, which leaves AJ Roberts Active8 Yamalube team to spearhead Yamaha’s 2017 assault, led by former class champs, Josh Green and Beau Ralston (who’ll race a YZ300 two-banger in the E3 class).
  • After two injury-marred years in America, Daniel Milner is back in Australia and lining up again at the AORC. The former Outright AORC and multiple A4DE champ has signed with KTM for the first time in his career.

  • Former Transmoto EJ class riders, Lyndon Snodgrass, Broc Grabham and Will Ruprecht, have all landed their first ride on factory teams this year – Snodgrass with KTM, Grabham with Husqvarna, and Ruprecht with Yamaha.
  • Glenn Kearney has moved from Husqvarna to KTM. He remains Team Manager for 2017, but won’t be racing for the first year in a long, long time (though he will be having a crack at the 2017 Transmoto 12-Hour next weekend as part of one of KTM’s teams).
  • The AORC’s organising committee has announced that they’ve engaged a dedicated videographer (6HD’s Ben McNulty) and photographer (JPM’s John Pearson) for the 2017 AORC to ensure quality content is generated at all 12 rounds, and that they’ve invested into a ramped-up rider safety program (Racesafe will attend all rounds and Trent Lean will continue in his Rider Liaison role) for 2017. Stay tuned for a few more surprises that the organising committee plans to reveal in the coming weeks.

Want to help put the upcoming 2017 Australian Off-Road Championship in perspective? Join us as we reflect on the pivotal moments and standout achievers of the memorable 2016 AORC.

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