Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha riders Stefan Merriman and Jarrod Bewley have finished the 2009 Yamaha Australian Off Road Championship on the points podium, second and third respectively after 10 rounds of close competition.
Final placings were decided yesterday afternoon at Young in New South Wales, with Merriman finishing just over a second shy of eventual winner Toby Price.
The results tipped the scale in Price’s favour by a mere 3 points after the WR450F-mounted Merriman had led from the get-go in March.
The multiple world enduro champion took four outright round victories over the course of the season and was able to wrap up the Pro E2 class championship with podium finishes in 9 of the 10 rounds.
“I’m really happy to have won the E2 this year and to be back in Australia,” said Merriman.
“I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t win Outright because I was pushing, trying really hard, but I missed out by one second.
“Toby rode well and was that little bit faster when it counted.”
Teammate Jarrod Bewley wrapped up an exemplary season on high note, finishing second on Saturday and third on Sunday.
The results secured Bewley third in the outright and Pro E2 standings, a solid effort to accompany his A4DE win earlier in the year.
The 22-year-old said he was satisfied with his season and looked forward to wrapping up the year with a competitive showing at the International Six Day Enduro (ISDE) in October.
“I felt that I rode well this weekend, I knew I was in with a shot at the title still so I kept at it and came away with some good round results,” said Bewley.
“In the end it was not enough to challenge the top two but it is a satisfying result all the same.
“I’ve put a lot of effort into this season and will keep up the training as we get ready to head to the ISDE.”
Pro E1 rider Kirk Hutton recorded his third class win of the season yesterday to accompany a solid second place on Saturday.
The WR250F-mounted Queenslander closed to within 2 points of the class championship in which he only ever finished on the top two steps of the podium.
The class result also saw him factor well within the top 10 outright – he finished seventh on 136 points.
“Unfortunately, it was a case of too little, too late,” said Hutton. “But I’m stoked to finish second in the class and seventh outright.
“I was really happy with how I rode this weekend, my Yamaha was working awesome and I was really happy with me speed.
“I would have loved to add an E1 title to my E3 win from last year, but that’s racing. I can guarantee I’ll be back next year riding hard and hunting for some more national titles.”
The Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha trio of Merriman, Bewley and Hutton will now begin preparation for the 2009 ISDE which will be held in Figueira da Foz, Portugal from 12-17 October.
Other team results saw Josh Ballard finish fifth overall in the Pro E3 class and Liam Robertson finish third overall in Expert E1 after two breakthrough round wins.
Masters class standout Geoff Ballard wrapped up another title by an impressive margin and the factory team’s youngest rider showed he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future with a dominant Junior Outright championship win.
Women’s class honours went to Jemma Wilson who recorded her sixth round victory in a row. Yamaha’s Alison Parker finished second and Jacqui Jones finished third to round out an all-blue top three.
Yamaha Australian Off Road Championship Final Outright Results
1. Toby Price, 214
2. Stefan Merriman, 211 (Yamaha WR450F)
3. Jarrod Bewley, 200 (Yamaha WR450F)
4. Chris Hollis, 155
5. Ben Kearney, 147
6. Ben Grabham, 146
7. Kirk Hutton, 136 (Yamaha WR250F)
8. Peter Boyle, 128
9. AJ Roberts, 117
10. Geoff Braico, 106