Alex Gobert focuses on the world of off-road, presented by Yamaha's 2012 WR450F.
One of Australia’s biggest and most iconic motorcycle events is underway down at Warragul in Victoria, with the Prologue of the 2012 Yamaha WR450F Australian Four-Day Enduro taking place this afternoon before day one’s activities tomorrow.
Motorex KTM Off Road Racing has confirmed that Toby Price will race for E3 and Outright honours, however his rib injuries sustained at the Six Day have limited his preparation. In fact, Sunday was the first time that Price has ridden since the ISDE.
“The main goal now is the A4DE, which we’re really looking forward to,” Price commented. “Hopefully we can get a good result there, it’s a very important race on the schedule for us and it’s an event that I really enjoy as a rider.
“The plan is to climb on top of the podium and cap off what has been a great year. Riding for me has been limited lately after my rib injuries at the ISDE, but we’ll see how it goes!”
While Chris Hollis’ A4DE injuries got the better of him and forced him out of the A4DE for 2012, it’ll be nice to see Ben Grabham back in action with Motorex KTM and also to see the 2013 KTM 250 SX-F in the hands of team young gun Ben Burrell.
Price’s biggest competition may come from E1 national champion Daniel Milner, who is from Lang Lang and plans to use his hometown experience to his advantage. Even if he is on a YZ250F, Milner has shown he has what it takes to battle for Outright supremacy at times this season.
“It will be a tough event if it rains,” Milner said. “It’s pretty wet now – it’s stopped raining today but it has been the last few days down here. The sun’s out now, but they’re calling for rain Wednesday and Thursday, then it’s expected to fine up, so hopefully we don’t get too much more. It’s already very slick and the soil is slippery clay.
“There’s also a lot of logs and tree roots in the enduro tests which are tricky when wet. The special tests are looking pretty good. We’ve walked them all now; there’s two grass tracks, three enduro tests and a fire trail test with lots of logs across it.”
But then again, we can’t rule out Milner’s Ballard’s Yamaha Park and Fly Off-Road E2 teammate Matt Phillips, who finished third Outright behind Price and Hollis one year ago. Add in the factor of Stefan Merriman in E3 and Yamaha has a real all-star combination that will no doubt battle for class victories across the board.
Husqvarna Racing regulars Glenn Kearney and Luka Bussa will be joined by Italian Husqvarna factory rider and 2011 A4DE E1 class winner Alex Salvini, who is looking not only to defend his E1 title, but seriously challenge for Outright honors. Salvini will be armed with the new 2013 model TE 250R.
“I’m over the moon with the bike and I cannot wait to race the Australian riders again after a successful International Six Days in Germany (ISDE),” Salvini said. “I am confident we can come up with a good result again this year and I will be looking to challenge for the Outright victory in 2012.”
The Active8 Yamaha Yamalube Racing team sees Josh Green step up to the E2 class for the four-day, while teammate Jarrod Bewley will switch to the E1 division.
“It’s an awesome bike – I love it,” Green said of the all-new WR450F. “It’s a great mix of terrain and tests down here and I think the WR will be a great bike for it. I’m stoked I decided to mix it up and tackle the E2 class in my third A4DE.”
Team manager AJ Roberts will mix it up on a YZ250 two-stroke in this year’s A4DE, in the E2 class and certain to be a fan favourite amongst a sea of current four-strokes.
Husaberg will have Scott Keegan in the mix as always, and he’s coming off a strong AORC campaign in E3, plus privateers like Tom McCormack, Mitch Harper, Stefan Granquist, Kirk Hutton, Lachlan Stanford, Peter Boyle and Damien Smith will all be in the mix.
When we look at the Women’s category, we’ll see Jessica Gardiner back to defend her crown on a WR250F and fresh from a third place podium finish at the French round of the Enduro World Championships. She has been a standout performer for Aussie enduro all year long.
Of course there are many more contenders, many more participants and a lot of dedicated enduro enthusiasts anticipating a huge event for 2012. Hopefully the weather holds off down south and we’ll see a massive week of world class off-road racing. Best of luck to all!