Previously a privateer in the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) who juggled the nine-to-five work week alongside his love for motorcycle racing, Jonte Reynders has been announced as a new addition to the Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team for the remaining 2019 AORC season. Alongside his new team colours and teammates, Reynders will kick off in Kyogle for Rounds 5 & 6 on a Sherco 300 4-Stroke, marking a move from the E1 to E2 class.
A Tasmanian local comfortable in challenging terrains, Reynders moved to the Off-Road racing scene a mere three years ago after growing up in Motocross (MX). Since his move to Off-Road, Reynders suffered a massive blow in 2017 with a broken neck but refused to have his back against the wall and returned to the AORC paddock after a year off.
Fans would recognise Reynders as a regular feature in the E1 top five results each round, tussling continuously with the likes of Luke Styke (Active8 Yamaha Yamalube), Lyndon Snodgrass (KTM Enduro Racing Team), Michael Driscoll (Active8 Yamaha Yamalube) and Fraser Higlett (Husqvarna Enduro Racing Team), missing out on podiums by seconds.
Reflecting on this exciting development in his career with the Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team, Reynders sat down with us to give an insight his transition from a Yamaha 250F to Sherco 300 4-Stroke, how his accident has impacted his current racing style, and how his game plan has changed as he heads into a new class for Rounds 5 & 6.
Tell us more about how the connection between you and the Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team came about. You were previously on a Yamaha 250F, how are you finding the transition to a different brand and capacity?
It started back at the opening rounds of the 2019 AORC season in Toowoomba, where there was a potential for the Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team to potentially include me on their team. After Dungog these discussions really ramped up and a contract was sent through!
It was a super organic relationship that has worked out really well!
The transition to a completely new bike has been super smooth, proven with the win at a three-hour Cross-Country event in Tasmania last weekend, after only being on the bike for four days! After the team sent me the bike and I hopped on, I immediately felt comfortable and adapted a lot better than I had originally anticipated.
The Sherco bike I believe is more suited to the bush and Enduro racing, compared to the Yamaha 250F I previously rode. It’s also been the perfect opportunity to properly test out my new Sherco in Tasmania’s challenging landscape, and really push this bike to its limits.
The new team and bike mean you’re now moving across from E1 to E2, tackling foes such as Daniel Milner rather than Luke Styke. How are you feeling heading into the next round with this change up to your previous game plan?
The game plan won’t change, really, because when I look at my times back in Dungog and Toowoomba, my times would have granted me a podium finish with Milner and Josh Green in the E2 class. In the E1 class, the competition is so fierce and heavy that I continually missed out on podiums by a really small stretch of time, so it’s a really exciting move across to E2 and chase podiums, and Milner!
This change up of classes also helps me gain an extra confidence booster, whilst also proving my strength and skill to my new team.
Back in Tasmania, you’re leading the State Off-Road Championship with three straight wins. Next up is the 2019 Hattah Desert Race. What are you looking to get out of this new experience?
This will be my first Hattah experience, and I’ll be competing on a 300 2-Stroke rather than my AORC 300 4-Stroke. The main goal of this new experience will be familiarising myself further with the Sherco bikes, whilst also taking the opportunity to train in the lead up to the next AORC rounds.
Before joining the Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team I was completely self-funded. So this opportunity to receive invaluable support from my new team to help me achieve goals such as completing a full AORC season without the burden that comes with driving from Tasmania to Queensland. I am so grateful to be receiving this support from the Motul Pirelli Sherco Off-Road Team!
2017 saw you suffer a massive blow, with a broken neck. Has this experience changed the way you approach the Off-Road racing scene?
I think before the accident I was more aggressive and took greater risks.
Ever since then, I find myself far more cautious of my speed, manoeuvring and techniques. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative though, because it’s allowed me to develop my techniques and become a stronger rider.
Dungog marked your first Enduro timecard racing format. How did you find this experience? Being that this was your first Enduro, did you grow up in a different racing discipline?
I really enjoyed my first timecard Enduro racing format! I loved having the opportunity to ride all-day, and over the two days of racing my confidence grew as I became more comfortable with the racing format. For instance, on Saturday I found a few more mistakes because I was unsure of the best techniques, but come Sunday, I was comfortable with what I had to do and was really happy with the end result!
Previous to Enduro or Off-Road racing I was actually racing in MX. I’ve only been competing in Off-Road for the past three years, so it’s arguably still pretty new for me. Coming from MX, I found myself initially confident in the Sprint formats because it reflected the MX racing style so well, but as the years have progressed, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with all the Off-Road racing formats like Enduro timecards.
AORC returns for Rounds 5 & 6 in Kyogle, NSW for back-to-back Sprints. In the meantime, stay updated with all the happenings of the 2019 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship by visiting the AORC Website at aorc.org.au, or by following the Yamaha AORC on Twitter and Facebook as well as @aorc on Instagram.
Don’t forget to download the Official AORC app via Team App. It’s as easy as downloading Team App and searching ‘AORC’!
Images courtesy of Allison Murphett