It was blue skies as far as the eye could see, until the clouds rolled in at midday delivering enough rainfall to change tacky conditions across the WR450F and Ballards MXstore test tracks to frustratingly slippery. Round 3 of the 2020 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship presented by MXstore (AORC) started with undeniable curveballs as unexpected competitors gave it some gas early on in an attempt to get a leg up.
After seven laps though, our victors are Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha Ballards MXstore Off-Road Racing Team) in Women’s, Lee Stephens (True Painting & Decorating, KTM Newcastle) in Veterans, Kirk Hutton (Yamaha Motor Australia) in Masters and Geoff Braico in the 2T Cup.
Early into Round 3, the results threw us all sideways with reigning Champion, Gardiner clocking up out of character test times and both Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha Motor Australia) and Emi Ruprecht smashing out speedy times. As the day progressed though and the rain rolled in, Gardiner seemed to find her feet and pushed through to first place.
Hot on her heels, Karlsson slid into second place with a total time of 50:24, ahead of Penrite Honda’s Emma Milesevic, who claimed third ahead of Ruprecht with a total time of 52:47. Like Gardiner, Milesevic appeared to struggle with the conditions early but as we have seen before, she fought tooth and nail to maintain her position on the podium.
“I had a pretty good day,” explains Gardiner.
“It was a lot of fun this morning, we were spoilt with no dust and perfect conditions and being a timecard format it was really good out there.
“We had a lot of fun on the trail too but when the rain came though it made things very interesting. It came down to who could stay upright and keep those wheels spinning.
“Overall it was tough, so I’m really happy to take the win considering the challenging conditions.”
2020 AORC Round 3 Women’s Top 7 Provisional Results:
- Jessica Gardiner (Yamaha Ballards MXstore Off-Road Racing Team) 49:41
- Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha Motor Australia) 50:24
- Emma Mileseivc (Penrite Honda) 52:47
- Emi Ruprecht 57:34
- Julie Denyer (Dn and Mg Denyer) 1:01:25
- Avril Gill 1:08:28
- Kaitlyn Hall (Halls Transport Repairs) 1:08:29
Cooler than ‘Cool Hand Luke’, Stephens tangoed with Richard Chibnall (WBR Echuca, Onpoint Motorcycles) across his eight laps. Reigniting that thrilling competition we’ve seen from these two time and time again, Stephens finished Round 3 with a total time of 44:53, ahead of Chibnall by just over 13 seconds.
Rounding out the Veterans podium was Damian Smith, with a total time of 46:53.
2020 AORC Round 3 Veterans Top 10 Provisional Results:
- Lee Stephens (True Painting & Decorating, KTM Newcastle) 44:53
- Richard Chibnall (WBR Echuca, Onpoint Motorcycles) 45:17
- Damian Smith 46:53
- Christopher Thomas (Thomas Lee KTM) 48:47
- Phill Hurley 50:26
- Jason Pearce 50:27
- Anthony Wilson 51:54
- Paul Chadwick 54:57
- Nigel Slocum 55:06
- Phil Newman 56:56
Unstoppable. That would be an apt word to describe Hutton and his humble campaign to claim every Masters win he can. With a total time of 46:38, Hutton finished ahead of Peter Rudd (Kessner Motorcycles, AutoWired) by just over three minutes.
Claiming the third and final podium position for Round 3 was Andrew Gillam (Coolblue), with a total time of 51.27.
“It was good. I thought the first lap was going to be prime because the conditions are this good thanks to the rain! But things deteriorated up in the forest with torrential rain, making it hard to see where you’re going,” highlighted Hutton.
“I felt good in the first lap but after the rain I found grass tracks, which I find I’m really good at, where tough because I couldn’t find a grip.
“It was good though overall and it’s been really nice to see the rain! It was a real Enduro round and I enjoyed it.”
2020 AORC Round 3 Masters Top 10 Provisional Results:
- Kirk Hutton (Yamaha Motor Australia 46:38
- Peter Rudd (Kessner Motorcycles, AutoWired) 49:40
- Andrew Gillam (Coolblue) 51:27
- Scott Campbell 55:32
- Stephen Boucher (Team Moto, Maben Racing) 55:32
- Ian Jenner 55:41
- Craig Treasure 56:29
- Shane Bukovinsky 1:04:58
- Darrin Strauch 1:10:55
- David Pratten 42:45 +2 laps
Casual as anything, Braico lead the charge hot off the start line right from lap 1. With a total time of 42:54 after eight laps, Braico finished in first ahead of Dalton Johnson (Motul Pirelli Sherco).
Johnson finished Round 3 with a total time of 44:50, but got through by the skin of his nails ahead of Brad Hardaker (Banana Coast Pest Control, Yamaha Motor Australia), who clocked in just shy of three seconds behind Johnson.
Round 1 winner, Harry Teed had a challenging day today, conceding for fourth place with a total time of 45:28.
“My day was pretty fun and without much dramas,” explains Braico.
“I didn’t crash until the last lap but my YZ125 was having a ball in these conditions! I just thought I would come along and give this a go and Yamaha were kind enough to help me out.
“It’s great to have this class where it’s not necessarily as serious. I’ve seen the AORC pits change and evolve over the years, so the 2T class opens up that opportunity for people to compete without it being too serious.”
2020 AORC Round 3 2T Top 9 Provisional Results:
- Geoff Braico 42:54
- Dalton Johnson (Motul Pirelli Sherco) 44:50
- Brad Hardaker (Banana Coast Pest Control, Yamaha Motor Australia) 44:53
- Harry Teed 45:28
- Brad Redman 51:06
- Harrison Blatch 55:01
- Brady Adams 52:58 +1 lap
- Luke Bray 38:11 +2 laps
- James Buttigieg 41:37 +4 laps
AORC returns to Dungog tomorrow morning. With refreshed and rejuvenated minds and bodies, our competitors will tackle a Sprint format. This change in racing is due to the recent heavy rainfall in the area.
Stay up to date with all the happenings of the 2020 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship by visiting the AORC website at www.aorc.org.au , Facebook or @aorc on Instagram. Don’t forget to download the Official AORC app via Team App. It’s as easy as download Team App and search ‘AORC’!
Images courtesy of Troy Pears.
Words by Caitlin Hynes