2019 AORC: Mid-Season Wrap
Well, it’s not exactly mid-season for the 2019 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC), but with the series heading into a 14-week break in its 2019 race calendar (the AORC resumes on July 20 in Kyogle in northern NSW), we thought it’d be worth taking a top-line snapshot of the series’ major storylines thus far; after the weekend’s Round 3 and 4 at Dungog, NSW…
THE TWO DANIELS
Just like last year, no one has even looked like bettering the ‘two Daniels’ this season – in their respective classes or the Outright results. Reigning E3 and Outright champ, KTM’s Daniel Milner, has put his new ride, a 350EXC-F, on top of the box in the E2 class at all four rounds, and racked up three of the fourth Outright wins. Meanwhile, reigning E2-class champ, Husky’s Daniel Sanders, has made a clean sweep of the E3 class aboard his new ride for 2019, a FE501, and he’s been the only guy to snatch an Outright win from his archrival, Milner, at Round 4.
These two Daniels (along with Yamaha’s Josh Green, on occasion) have been on a whole other level this year – just as they were in 2018 in both the AORC and A4DE – and bearing witness to these two guys’ world-class speed, precision, race smarts and intense rivalry has been something very special.
THE BIG-BORE BOYS
In the E3 class, the return of Husky-mounted Beau Ralston and the ongoing improvement of guys like Sherco’s Andy Wilksch, Kawi’s Matt Murry and KTM’s Jesse Lawton has created some real depth in the big-bore class this year. Wilksch was particularly impressive at Dungog’s Round 4, where he posted several top-five Outright test times. But no one has had anything for the next-level speed of Daniel Sanders, who’s focus has already turned to his battle with the E2 class’ Milner and Green in the Outright (or “scratch”) standings.
THE E2 CLASS
Long regarded as the AORC’s premier category, the E2 class is down on depth a little this year – behind the ding-dong battle for supremacy between Milner and Green, that is. Guys such as Yamaha’s Jeremy Carpentier, Stefan Granquist, Brad Hardaker and Nic Tomlinson; Honda’s Broc Grabham; Kawasaki’s Scott Keegan (returning to the AORC after a gap-year); and KTM’s Alex Bolton are all top-shelf racers. But by and large, these guys scrapping for the final step of the E2 podium are struggling to run inside the Outright’s top-10 positions. That’s a reflection of just how hot the pace and depth of the E3 and E1 classes is this season.
THE TAPPED-OUT 250s
The E1 class has evolved into arguably the most competitive class in the 2019 AORC, and it’s been spearheaded by four guys: reigning class champ, Yamaha’s Luke Styke; former E3-class champ, KTM’s Lyndon Snodgrass; Husqvarna’s Fraser Higlett; and Yamaha’s reigning and two-time EJ-class winner, Michael Driscoll. These four characters have been going at it like valve-bouncing maniacs over the AORC’s first four rounds, with the whole quartet comfortably placing inside the top-10 Outright positions. Only Styke and Snodgrass have posted class wins (three and one apiece, respectively), but youngsters Driscoll and Higlett have been right there in the mix and remain genuine contenders for a title win. Mention should also be made of Jonte Reynders, whose speed and consistency has seen him knocking on the door of the E1 class’ top-four. And an eighth Outright at Round 4 underlines just how fast this Tassie kid is.
Having proven his speed, race smarts and commitment last season in the last two rounds of the J4 class, Tasmania’s Kyron Bacon has come out swinging in the EJ (under 18) class this year. A protégé of four-time Enduro World Champion and fellow Tassie devil, Matt Phillips, Bacon has managed to upstage the more experienced Husky-mounted Joshua Brierley at all four rounds, with performances that put him on the cusp of top-10 Outright positions! With mentoring from Phillips and Geoff Ballard and new backing from MXstore and Ballard’s OffRoad and the suspension gurus at Tune Tech, big things are expected of the 16-year-old KTM-mounted Bacon.
For more detailed results, and the progressive points standings in all AORC classes, go to: www.aorc.org.au/results
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