After a total of 3,323km travelled in this year’s Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, the series will make its last stop on this year’s tour at Hedley in Victoria, a small village in South Gippsland, east of Welshpool.
Besides the E3 and Masters category, all the other championships are still up for grabs and will be decided this weekend.
In terms of what we know and think will happen, let us give you the low down.
In the E1 class, Luke Styke (Active8 Yamaha Yamalube) holds down a 16-point advantage over KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Lyndon Snodgrass. Fraser Higlett (Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team) and Michael Driscoll (Active8 Yamaha Yamalube) are also in the running, as they are both 31 and 36 points behind Styke respectively. However, they would need some kind of a miracle for the championship to go all the way down to the final round on Sunday, however they will battle it out for third place.
Going off the form guide from last year’s round at Hedley, Styke will be hard to beat. The current E1 Champion took out both rounds in 2018, beating Higlett. This weekend however, Snodgrass will have to throw the kitchen sink and everything else at Styke to try and stop him from winning his second title. You would almost bet but that Styke is on course to winning the crown.
KTM Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel Milner has pretty much got one hand and four fingers on the E2 Championship. Milner, who has won the E1 title in 2013, E2 championship in 2017 and last year’s E3 championship heads into this weekend with 225-points on the board, 27-points clear from Josh Green (Active8 Yamaha Yamalube). The Victorian rider pretty much has to finish on Saturday and collect a handful of points and it will be game over for the chase for the title.
While the E3 championship may have already been won, which saw Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team’s Daniel Sanders locking it up at the previous round in South Australia, the fight is on for the bride’s maid position. Andrew Wilksch (Motul Pirelli Sherco Team) and Jesse Lawton (Thor MX) will be going hammer and tongs this weekend for the runner up spot. Just six points separate the pair.
Kyron Bacon (MX Store, KTM) is hunting his first senior’s championship this weekend and 2019 could possibly be the year that is finally comes together after spending the last few years finishing second in the junior classes.
The 17-year-old will have to bring his A game with him to Hedley, not to say that he hasn’t this year, as he has taken out seven wins in this year’s championship and finished third in the other two rounds. Bacon has a very determined Josh Brierley (Nowra Motorcycles, Husqvarna) ready to pick up the pieces, if anything were to go wrong and slash Bacon’s 17-point lead in the championship.
And what about Korey McMahon (KTM Australia), who sits in third place? Well, he’s an outside chance for the championship, being 34-points off the lead. Yes, he’s consistent, but will need a hell of a lot of luck to for things to go his way.
Now, the Women’s championship. Yamaha MXStore Ballards Off Road Team’s Jess Gardiner has already edged her name into the history books last time out by becoming the first female rider to score over 2000 championship points. Gardiner, who enters her 90th AORC round start on Saturday is again about to create another bit of history in the sport by potentially winning her fifth championship. If Gardiner, who holds down a 25-point lead over the ever improving Emma Milesevic (Honda RideRed), does get the job done this weekend, she will become the third rider in the Women’s class to have won back-to back titles, joining Alison Parker, who won in 2007 and 2008 and Jemma Wilson, who took out the title in 2016 and 2017.
“I’m feeling pretty confident ahead of this weekend,” said Gardiner, who won at Hedley six times out of the twelve rounds contested at the Victorian venue.
“I know what I have to do and I understand that I can’t get to excited and throw the bike away. I just have to keep clam and ride within my limits and hopefully that’s enough to lock up the title come the end of round ten on Saturday,” she added.
Gardiner is pinning her hopes on putting the championship beyond reach this Saturday, which will allow to ride freely come the final round on Sunday.
The fight is on between Milesevic and Yamaha’s Emelie Karlsson. Six points is difference between them. So, who would be the favourite? Well, seeing round ten is a cross-country, Milesevic did win the cross-country event at Broken Hill, so she would have to be short odds with the bookies. However, Karlsson is a wily old fox and knows how to defend as well as attack. Can youth get the better of an experienced head?
Veterans & Masters
Lee Stephens enters this weekend with a commanding lead, 43, to be exact. Looking at the championship, it seems as the top three, which are Stephens, Chris Thomas and Jason Pearce will all hold their ground.
Kirk Hutton has already locked up the Masters championship. However, Peter Rudd and Craig Treasure will be going all at it for second place in the championship as 20 points separates the pair.
The J2 class is the closest championship in the whole series with Billy Hargy (Husqvarna), leading the way by eight points ahead of Max Phillips (T & K Phillips Transport) with Campbell Hall just three points behind Phillips. Who will win out of these three? Well, depends which way the wind blows really. It will come down to who holds their nerves the best, but something which is for certain is that this championship WILL go down to the final seconds of the championship.
Riley McGillivray (AJ’s Motorcycles Superstore) is almost on the eve of claiming the J3 title. A healthy 38-point lead over Kodi Stephens, while William Dennett is only six points behind Stephens.
Finally, the J4 class. It Mackenzie Johnson (Motocity Yamaha) leading the way on 186-points, eleven points ahead of Blake Hollis who won’t be there to fight out the championship due to injury. With only 15 points separating the next three competitors in Oscar Collins, Charlie Milton and Kobe Conley, a podium position or even two is up for the taking and will go to the final days racing.
For championship points, click here