Features 17 Oct 2023

Profiled: Cooper Sheidow

Recently-crowned E1 champion on building throughout season 2023.

Consistency paid dividends for bLU cRU-supported Cooper Sheidow in claiming the E1 title at the final round of the 2023 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) to conclude the season at Dungog. It was a solid campaign for the 22-year-old, who also had the opportunity to fill-in at ShopYamaha Off-Road Racing this year, and he features in this latest Profiled piece.

Sheidow made the switch from KTM machinery to a WR250F for the 2023 season, motivated to take the next step in his racing career as part of the bLU cRU support program, which was a decision that ultimately led to success and immense opportunities throughout the year.

“I got a Yamaha two days after Christmas, I think that was the first day I got on the Yamaha,” he recalled. “I was lucky enough… I was chasing something more, I wanted to take my racing to the next step and AJ [Roberts] and Scott Bishop gave me the opportunity to jump on the bLU cRU-support team, which turned into getting a factory Yamaha ride at the four-day [A4DE], Hattah and one of the AORC rounds, which was definitely an eye-opener.

“But yeah, you know, it took a little bit to gel with the bike, being European to Japanese bike, it took a while. It was just more of a building year, I didn’t really have any expectations, I just wanted to build, get a solid base and hopefully come out swinging next year. We ended up having a few things go our way and got the championship.”

South Australian talent Sheidow opened his AORC title-winning campaign this year with a pair of thirds in class at Mendooran, before receiving the call-up to fill-in for the injured Kyron Bacon at the official ShopYamaha team.

The number 92 contested rounds three and four of AORC at Queensland Moto Park (QMP) with the outfit – finishing second in class on both occasions – in addition to the Australian Four Day Enduro (A4DE) and the Hattah Desert Race.

Image: Foremost Media.

“That was wild, I got a call-up from AJ, I think a week and a half before QMP,” Sheidow added. “Unfortunately, Kyron had an accident and he was out for a while, so I got the opportunity to jump on his bike. It pretty much just fast-tracked me for all the stuff I wanted to learn, I got thrown in the deep end and they helped me out a bunch.

“So I went up there for a week before QMP, just did a bunch of testing and just got used to the bike. That definitely helped me progress heaps on a Yamaha, just learning how they work and testing, really got the bike set-up the way I wanted to.

“That continued on to the four-day and that was unreal. I ended up getting fourth outright and second in 250s. Going back, I didn’t really lose too much, AJ still helped me out a bunch – I got to keep all of my suspension, settings, things we learned and worked on. I found it really fast-forwarded the progress for me on a Yamaha.”

Returning to his bLU cRU program for the remaining rounds of the AORC season, Sheidow entered the final stages at Dungog with a slim lead ahead of Korey McMahon, and he was eventually able to secure his first E1 title with a 2-3 scorecard in New South Wales.

“It was unreal, definitely something that I have dreamed of for a long time,” he continued. “I wasn’t the fastest this year, Kyron and Korey [McMahon] had me covered, but it was definitely a building year, so I just wanted to stay consistent and from last year, only getting on the podium three times, I didn’t miss a podium at any of the rounds all year. That was definitely a high for me.

“Just tried to stay consistent and things fell in place in my favour. Coming into the last round, there was only four points between Korey and myself, so it was definitely game on. I just tried to let go of having to win, and just do my own thing. If we won, we won, if we didn’t, we didn’t. Just did my own race, and things worked in our way and yeah we came away with the championship.”

Image: Foremost Media.

Following a solid campaign in 2023, Sheidow is certain that he will remain onboard a WR250F next year, looking to continue to build and improve his outright results. Additionally, he expressed his interest and desire to compete in the American-based Grand National Cross Country Championship (GNCC) if the opportunity ever arises in the future.

“2024 definitely looks like I’ll be on a Yamaha again, but we will be definitely staying on blue,” Sheidow stated. “Definitely be going for a championship, hopefully pushing up the front for a few rounds and see if we can get a few class wins… Probably just try to build from this year again, but just get up more in the outright.

“Finishing the year in the top 10 was my goal in outright, and I think we ended up sixth, so next year will be pushing for a podium and fighting for wins in the 250 class. I definitely appreciate everyone helps me out to get there. At the moment, have a week fews off and regroup and go again.

“I would definitely like to go to America [at some point in the future] and try GNCC, I’m not really a technical type of rider like the GPs in Europe, I sort of like the more open, flowing and brutal stuff. If the opportunity arose, I would definitely take it with both hands, but I think at the moment we will just see what happens. If something pops up, we will take it, if not, we will just try to keep making a name for ourselves down here.”