2021 AORC: Let’s Use The ‘O-Word’ Again

1 year ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: AORC

After an abbreviated, Covid-cursed three-round 2020 season, you’d think some luck might fall the way of the 2021 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC). Nope. Not to begin with anyway. Organisers were forced to postpone the opening two rounds of the series – scheduled to take place at Nowra on the NSW South Coast in late March – after biblical rain left much of Australia’s eastern seaboard underwater and unrideable.

But in mid April, when the AORC did get underway in the deep sand of Golden Beach in Victoria’s Gippsland region, it felt like everyone was making up for lost time and itching to get their season started with a bang. The racing action across all classes – Juniors and Seniors alike – saw battles up and down the field. The AORC Organising Committee delivered a slick on-ground set-up and challenging race loops befitting a national. And the content generated from the weekend’s racing – from the ‘Pit Lane Live’ feed, to the online image galleries, to the 60-minute free-to-air television package on SBS and Fox Sports – collectively gave everyone associated with the series a real spring in their step.

Not only that, the PR put out by MA’s AORC Organising Committee even dropped an ‘O-word’ here and there. Don’t get too excited; there’s still no specific mention of the AORC’s Outright results or points standings. But MA’s PR did make a few references to the “Fastest Overall Time”. ‘Overall’ and ‘Outright’ (and/or ‘Scratch’ for Euros) have always been used interchangeably in enduro circles. So we’re not sure why this pointless game of don’t-mention-the-Outright semantics continues for the fifth season in a row.

For all the reasons we spelled out this time last year, wilfully depriving all series stakeholders – especially the fans – of information about the AORC’s Outright makes no sense. And, given the void of Outright info after Round 2, we note how many of you have asked the question about it again this year on Transmoto’s digital channels.

Well … you ask, we deliver. Check out the table below for the 2021 AORC Outright standings after the opening weekend’s racing. And consider few very interesting things it reveals:

  • To their credit, three EJ-class riders (Blake Hollis, Samuel Pretscherer and Kodi Stephens) managed to earn a top-20 Outright result. Landing themselves on their EJ class podium is one thing, but being able to peg themselves against their heroes via the Outright results left these three young blokes so pumped, they all vowed to step up their training regime even more and chase a top-10 Outright finish (just like the inaugural EJ-class winner, Daniel Sanders, did in 2014, when he finished the season sixth Outright in the standings!). Yep, rider motivation comes from a range of sources.
  • With 10 of the top 20 Outright finishers from E2, it’s pretty clear which is the premier class in 2021.
  • Speaking of the E2 class, consider the case of Josh Green, who ran under the PR radar a bit by coming second in class at Rounds 1 and 2 to reigning Aussie MX champ, Todd Waters. But what about the impressive fact Green ran third Outright on both days? It didn’t get a mention. Would Greeny’s sponsors and fans rather hear about his second in E2 or third Outright? Who cares? Tell them both! As we keep banging on about, class and Outright results is not an either/or. It’s complementary information. The Outright simply adds another fascinating element to the AORC because it sheds light on the riders and/or machinery that punch above, or below, their weight when class parameters are removed from the equation.
  • While Daniel Milner may have topped his E3 class and the Outright both days, he was four and two minutes, respectively, ahead of the E3 class’s runner-up at Rounds 1 and 2 – which is an eternity for a series where seconds, not minutes, traditionally separates the elite level racers after a day’s racing. With Milner’s world-class speed, that ‘comfortable’ winning margin is likely to be the norm all season, which won’t exactly put a competitive fire under his arse, will it? Surely this predicament will redirect some of the spotlight onto the Outright – sorry, Fastest Overall Time – results in the back half of the season. Otherwise, racing daylight for second place in E3 will hardly be driving Daniel Milner to deliver his best.
  • In E3, former E1 champ, Tom McCormack made his AORC comeback at Golden Beach after several years on the sidelines, and did well to run 3-3 in the class, albeit well off Milner’s pace. But you can bet your house on the fact that Tom would have been way more interested in knowing that he finished inside top 20 Outright on both days because it gives him a much better barometer of where his relative speed actually is at.
  • And how about GASGAS’s E1-class rider, Mason Semmens, posting back-to-back E1 class wins and 4-3 Outright results?! Sure, Semmens and Milner regularly practice on these same Golden Beach tracks, but with its deep sand not suited to small-capacity machines, it makes Semmens’ standout performance all that much more noteworthy.

So, thank you, Lord Outright. You may be in disguise these days, using a few pseudonyms and covertly going about your business, but damn, you routinely manage to deliver insights not available elsewhere. By the way, if you haven’t yet caught the epic 10-minute 2021 AORC season preview, shot and edited by 6HD’s incredibly talented, Ben McNulty, do yourself a favour and check it out:

And here’s the highlights package for the 2021 AORC’s opening two rounds:

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