AORC’s Silver City Deviation

7 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan, Cohen McElroy | Photos: Dirt2Ride, John Pearson Media

Midway through last year, Transmoto teamed up with Dirt2Ride Events’ Lyndon Heffernan to help get his all-new event off the ground – a desert race he’d dreamed of creating for many years. The evocatively named ‘Silver City Desert Enduro’ immediately struck a chord with Australia’s off-road fraternity, and within a week of entries going on sale, Heffernan had signed up more than 70 riders. Sadly, time was against Dirt2Ride. Delays in finalising the 2017 event’s permits shortened the pre-event runway and Heffernan had no choice but to postpone it until 2018.

So, here we are. It’s 2018, and in a little less than a month, the 2018 Silver City Desert Enduro will get underway out near Broken Hill – only this time, it’s been integrated into the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC). Motorcycling Australia’s Media and Public Relations Officer, Cohen McElroy, recently caught up with Heffernan to shed more light on the 2018 SCDE, and its new place in the 2018 AORC…

In a new look for the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC), Broken Hill will be bringing a list of firsts to the weekend, right?
That’s right, Cohen. It won’t just be the single round action. Juniors are set to race and Prologue on Saturday, whilst the Seniors Prologue on Saturday before racing on Sunday. The weekend will serve as Round 7 of the AORC – rather than the two rounds traditionally run over an AORC weekend – and there’ll also be a Pony Express class to cater to less serious racers.

What can riders expect conditions-wise?
It’s been quite dry up here, but it will be your typical desert terrain. It’s got sandy, loamy riverbeds that the riders will go in and out of, alongside cropped areas. The riders can expect a fast and flowing circuit that will get rough throughout the day. Due to the layout and the condition of the course, this will be the fastest track riders will face in the 2018 AORC.

There is talk about a few firsts at Broken Hill. What are these?
This will be the first time a major Australian Off-Road Championship will head to Broken Hill, plus this will be the first major desert race in the area. The riders will also start off in a different format. Unlike at the AORC, the field will line up in rows and an ATV will ride along in front of them, allowing each rider to take off and begin the race – just like they do at Hattah.

What sort of distance will the loop be at Broken Hill?
The field will face a varying distance when it comes to the loop. The Seniors will take on a 38km loop during their four-hour race. The Juniors will partake in a 18km loop during their two-and-half-hour race. And the new support class – Pony Express – will compete in a four-hour race on a 25km loop.

How did the event at Broken Hill come about?
I have been wanting to do a desert race for the past seven to eight years; since I rode Finke in 2005, as well as Hattah five years in a row. I have always thought New South Wales should have its own desert race, but with the GFC, we had to hold off on this concept. The industry is buoyant at the moment and the competition at AORC is the best it’s been in a long time, so it feels like the right time to get this desert event off the ground. The guys from Silver City Motorcycle Club are also really keen to support the event, and they will play a big part marking out the course, sweeping and many other roles.

What can the AORC fans and riders expect when they take the Pony Express on for the first time?
This will be something different for the AORC field. It caters to, and is targeted at, social riders. It’s the chance for riders to pair up with a friend and get out there, so why not team up? The transponder is your baton. You can ride one bike and swap riders, or there can be two bikes for the two riders. Just as long as you have the same transponder, you are good to go. Based on the success of a few other team-based events, it’s a great cross-over opportunity for riders who don’t want to do a fully fledged four-hour desert race, as they can team up with their mate to enjoy desert racing. It may also give them the experience and confidence to come and ride the race in the solo classes the following year.

What are your expectation and goals for the event?
The main goal for this first year is to have a good fun and safe event. Year one certainly won’t be perfect, but I have tried to bring the best of motocross, enduro, Hattah, Finke and other events I have seen over the years to make a challenging and fun experience for the field. We are going to bring the best event we can, but still have the mindset of looking to improve over the years to come.

Will there be camping at Broken Hill?
Yes, there will be plenty of room for camping at the venue on both Friday and Saturday night, but you can also stay in the town of Broken Hill as there are plenty of options.

Click here for more information about Round 7 of the AORC at Broken Hill. Entries are just a click away, and they close at midnight on August 26.

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