Rounds 3 & 4 of the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) are approaching quickly and with only 12 days until the field sets upon Hedley, AORC took the chance to catch up with 2016 E1 champion Jack Simpson.
The last time Simpson made the trip to Hedley in 2016, he came away with a win on both the Saturday and Sunday in the E1 class, which leaves him with some good memories of what is the closest thing to a home track for the Victorian.
Q1. Returning to Hedley must give you great confidence after how well you performed it 2016?
Hedley isn’t far from where I live, its about an hour away and my practice track is about half an hour from there, so that gives me great confidence that we can go well again, as the conditions and terrain will be very similar to what I train on. The black loamy sand conditions that we will see at Hedley can become quite rough and really bumpy and if we get some rain, it will play into us Victorian’s riding styles.
Q2. Talk us through the treacherous conditions you faced last time at Hedley?
Last time at Hedley, I can’t exactly remember how much rain they had but it was an absolute bucket load. Some of the straights were about a foot to two-foot-deep in just slop and water, my 250 did struggle a lot but we got some great results. Its an advantage being a Victorian in those kinds of conditions with our weather being so up and down, we seem to ride well in the mud, as we get a lot more practice in those conditions.
Q3. Now 2016 first year across from motocross and you took out the championship and in 2017 you finished third, how did you manage to adapt so quickly?
When I was younger before my motocross career started, I use to do a lot bush riding with my friends on the CRF150 and XR80 and then I made the move to motocross as all my mates were doing it. I was finding my motocross career was becoming stale, and a few of my mates started asking me to join the ‘dark side’ and race off-roads. After making the move across to off-roads I put all my time and effort into it and taking out the title gave me a great realisation that i could compete at this level. On top of that I was only 1 point off being fourth in all competitions. This opened a lot of people eyes, and it gave me the push to keep going with my off-road riding.
Q4. Now 2018, a great start at Gympie finishing both days in second position, how did you rate your start to this season?
It was a little bit off to be honest, I wasn’t surprised with how Styke and the others went, as I knew they would come in prepared. I changed the bike up a bit and knew we had to as our privateer bike against the factory bike is a bit of a difference, but after the changes to the bike we found good pace. We also found I had great pace at the first day of the Australian Four Day Enduro and we were running top three which gives me confidence heading to Hedley, which is a bit more open and its familiar ground for me.
Q5. Now as a privateer you face some different challenges during the AORC season, talk us through the challenges you face at rounds, the lead up and just in general?
The main difference for me is the time off work to be prepared, whether that is fitness or bike time and to add with the time of work it does hit you financially. I am pretty lucky that I get factory support with the bike from KTM, and I have really good people around me who help out with the engine and suspension. When it comes to racing, it can be a financial burden with travel, accommodation, food and loss of work a large burden on us. I’ve been pushing for the last five years to try find my way onto a factory ride, the last two years of motocross that was the plan and since coming across that’s still the goal.
Q6. What can AORC fans expect to see from you this time around at Hedley?
You will see me trying to get the best result I can as usual, but I know I can run top three pace even on the privateer 250 bike. Hedley is a venue I’m looking forward to and I can’t wait to open it up and have a crack, on a somewhat familiar terrain that I have had previous success on and enjoy. I can’t wait to get back into it.
The return to Hedley for rounds 3 & 4 of AORC is only 12 days away, entries are still open click here, as always to stay up to date with all the happenings of the 2018 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship by visiting the brand new AORC website at www.aorc.org.au! or by following the AORC on Twitter and Facebook as well as @aorc on Instagram.
Poster courtesy of 6HD