[Yamaha]

YAMAHA STANDS TALL AT AORC OPENER

5 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Troy Pears, YMA

A few weeks back, when casting an eye over the ShopYamaha Off-Road team’s four-rider line-up for the 2022 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) season, we put it out there that 31-year-old tribal elder and E2-class strike rider, Josh Green, might just face his stiffest competition from within his own team this season. And guess what? He already has! At last weekend’s 2022 AORC opener in Queensland, teenage Tassie sensation Kyron Bacon smoked all-comers at Round 1 and 2 in both the E1 class and Outright results – showing incredible consistency, despite the treacherous sprint loops’ combo of bike-swallowing bog holes and rock-infested bulldust sections. The 19-year-old’s teammates, Josh Green and Michael Driscoll, went 1-2 and 1-3 over the weekend in the E2 class, while Blake Hollis just missed the podium in the hotly contested E1 class.

Here’s the ShopYamaha team’s rundown on their memorable season-opening weekend – in for the form of both a highlights video and a more detailed insight into the racing action and the riders’ feedback:

The ShopYamaha Off-Road Team barnstormed their way to the top of the podium at the opening weekend of the Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC), held at Cherrabah Resort in Queensland. Rounds 1 and 2 of the championship were run in sprint format that saw the riders come up against challenging conditions as the recent rain in Queensland left its mark with soft, almost bottomless mud bogs and water crossings mixed with loamy soil and dusty areas, giving the event a huge variety of terrain to negotiate.

E1 (250cc) CLASS

The last two years have seen Tasmanian-based Kyron Bacon show flashes of brilliance, but it was on full display over the weekend as the quietly spoken kid simply ripped around the Cherrabah resort trails. From the moment he turned dirt on Saturday morning, he was on a mission and you could hear him charge through both the WR and the Beta sprint loops with pace and aggression.

He comfortably won both days in the E1 class, proving to be a step above his opposition. The sensational start to the season saw Bacon also claim top honours not just in his E1 (250cc) division but also take the Outright victory on both days. This is the first time in several years that a rider on a 250cc machine has taken Outright victory.

“It was pretty much the perfect weekend for me as far as results go,” Bacon said. “This is the kind of riding I do in Tassie and I really enjoyed the mixture of terrain and surfaces. Some of the bogs got deep but I was able to get through them with no problems and we barely touched the bike all weekend.

“It was a great way to get the season started and an awesome job by the ShopYamaha team. We head to Mackay for the next rounds and I’m sure conditions will be much different to what we experienced here, so I need to get back to work and try and do the same when we go there in a few weeks.”

Blake Hollis also flew the ShopYamaha flag in the E1 division and charged to fourth on both days. It was Hollis first time racing in the E1 class at a national level and acquitted himself well to produce a consistent and solid performance that will only get better as he finds his feet in the pro ranks.

“It wasn’t the easiest first weekend of racing,” Hollis suggests at the end of racing, “but I felt that I did well and got through the weekend in a good place. I made some mistakes and picked up some things from my teammates that will help me in the coming rounds. The bike was good all weekend and apart from a couple of crashes, everything was good. I need to practice in those kinds of conditions to improve but we don’t get them very often. Thanks to the team for their efforts and we move onto the next round and I’m looking for a podium.”

E2 (450cc) CLASS

Veteran Josh Green led the Yamaha charge in the E2 division with another impressive performance. Green took the class win on both days, but it didn’t come easy for him as he found the conditions and some crashes really make him work hard for his results.

Green admits he didn’t gel with the conditions on Saturday and made several mistakes trying to force the pace. A couple of crashes took the wind out of his sails, but he still found a work to make the top step on Saturday.

Sunday saw him have some issues with his bike where, after slamming a tree, his bike was stuck in second gear. He lost considerable time on the lap yet was able to claw his way back to the top of the class by day’s end and get his season off to a great start.

“This is old-school enduro out here today. The mud combined with some tight and technical riding makes going fast difficult. Congrats to Byron who made it look easy as it was far from it, and he was quick all weekend. I’m happy with how things went and satisfied with the results. A double class win over the weekend is always good and we are in good shape heading to Mackay,” Green said.

Michael Driscoll partners Green in the E2 class and was right alongside his teammate for most of the weekend. Driscoll finished second on Saturday and third on Sunday making it a successful weekend for the big-bore duo.

Driscoll was involved in a tight battle for the minor podium positions with MX champ Todd Waters and the pair swapped results. Driscoll feels there is plenty of room for improvement and hopes to take up the challenge to Green for class honours at the coming rounds.

“Getting on the podium both days is a good start, but I don’t think I rode as well as I could. I struggled, particularly on Saturday even though my result was better, as I was fighting the bike and being a little cautious in the soft spots. It’s good to get the opening rounds out of the way and leave here safe and healthy so now it’s time to build on these results and see if a can give the old man a run for his money,” Driscoll comments.

Rounds 3 and 4 of the Australian Off-Road Championship will take place at the picturesque Gum Valley venue, south of Mackay on April 8 and 9. The AORC makes up one part of a huge dirt bike weekend that will also see Round 2 of the ProMX happening at Gum Valley on the same weekend.

OTHER STANDOUT YAMAHA RESULTS

  • Jess Gardiner (WR250F) went 1-1 both days in the EW (Women’s) Class.
  • Jeremy Carpentier (WR250F) notched up a 3-3 weekend scorecard in the super-competitive E1 class.
  • Danielle McDonald (YZ125) dominated the Junior Girls class with a 1-1.
  • Harley Hutton (YZ85) won the J2 class (and his younger bro, Drake, also finished on the podium).
  • Jett Yarnold (YZ125) took the win in the J4 class.

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