News 28 Aug 2012

Off-Road Observer: 34

Alex Gobert focuses on the world of off-road, presented by Yamaha's 2012 WR450F.

New champions were crowned in the Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship finale at Kapunda in South Australia last weekend, capping off a mega season of racing in the AORC series. As expected, Toby Price won the Outright and E3 titles for Motorex KTM Off Road Racing, but there are a number of great stories that developed across the weekend.

First time national champions in E1 and E2 belonged to Daniel Milner and Matthew Phillips respectively, for the Ballard’s Yamaha team. Both are rising talents of the sport and both have captured the attention of all who follow the off-road series.

In fact, Milner picked up the Outright round win on Saturday during the Cross Country proceedings, ahead of Price. He backed it up with a runner-up finish on Sunday, clinching the title in the process on his YZ250F after a memorable season.

Daniel Milner was a standout of the 2012 AORC season and your new E1 champion. Image: Russell Colvin.

“I’m stoked to have finally had a good season in the AORC and to win a national title is amazing,” Milner said. “I owe so much to Yamaha and to the Ballard’s Off-Road team — without their help and support I wouldn’t have gotten here. And definitely my mum and dad.

“You have to race to the very end because in this sport, anything can happen. The rounds this weekend were some of the best this season and some of my best, too. Beating Toby yesterday and then riding well again today was a really great way for me to finish the AORC.”

When all’s said and done, you’d have to say that Milner was the surprise of the season. We already knew how good Price was, proving that point with a third Outright championship. This time he did it as an E3 class regular on the 500 EXC, making it an even greater achievement as the champions have more recently stemmed from E2.

One person who really stood out at Kapunda was Glenn Kearney, who was racing a back-up bike after his Husqvarna Racing factory TE 310 was stolen on the Gold Coast just hours before the team was scheduled to depart for South Australia.

GK has momentum on his side after dual wins in the E2 AORC finale.

Kearney won both E2 rounds for the weekend in an inspiring performance, elevating him to second in the series. The likable former champion will again be part of Husqvarna’s national program next year and will hit the ground running, no doubt.

Kearney edged out last year’s champion Chris Hollis in the series, who has struggled in the latter stages of the season with KTM. It’s a strange situation for Hollis, who entered the year with so much promise alongside Price, but don’t be surprised to see him turn his form around in time for the Australian Four Day Enduro later this year.

Next up though is the International Six Day Enduro (ISDE) in Germany on 24-29 September. This is a massive one for the Aussies, but we’ll have more on that in an upcoming edition of the Off-Road Observer. As you can see, there’s no rest for Australia’s top enduro contenders, but of course, the boys (and girls) wouldn’t have it any other way!