It seems as if KTM Off-Road Team’s Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders may just be the man to beat in this year’s Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) if the first two rounds at Kilkivan are anything to go by, after the Victorian rider was once again victorious in the second round in both the outright and E3 category.
Sanders did admit that he did start off a bit slow in the first few sprints after just trying to find the correct lines and get into a rhythm.
It wasn’t until the fifth run where Sanders finally took the overall lead from Active8 Yamaha Yamalube’s Josh Green who was the early pace setter for the round.
Sanders explained that the track today had a nice little technical section through the dried up creek bed, which was really rough and rocky, which he believed was where it was paying off for him as he had a great rhythm through that section.
The finishing order between Sanders and Green was a slender .999sec, which Sanders described as a “great win and a big confident booster” heading into round three and four.
“It’s a great way to start the year off and a fantastic way to reward the team for all the hard work they have done during the off season,” Sanders said.
“We have a few weeks off now until the next round, so I’ll keep training as hard as I can and see what we can do at Portland in April.”
Green, who was the winner of the E2 class was a bit disappointed in himself after making a mistake in the second last sprint – Green caught the bank with his left knee aggravating an injury that he’s had since the off season.
“It’s nothing major, but it’s just a niggling annoying thing which put me off for the rest of that lap,” Green said.
Green did however pull a second back on Sanders on the last sprint, but just was not enough in the end.
24-year-old Lachlan Stanford again proved that he had pace to challenge for this year’s title, after he came home in third position and second in the E3 class, 12.611sec behind Green.
However for unknown reasons Stanford was off the pace on the fourth lap, which he said he couldn’t understand why as all of his lines where right. This cost Stanford a few seconds on the front running three riders.
Overall however Stanford did share that a second in round one and third in round two, was a good way to kick start his championship, and is really looking forward to the remainder of the year piloting the Husqvarna FE501 machine.
“All weekend I have had so much confidence riding the FE501 and without a doubt its nothing but amazing to ride. It’s shaping up to be a good year ahead.”
Rounding out the top five was Tye Simmonds (KTM Off-Road Team) and CDR Yamaha’s Chris Hollis, with Green’s teammate Beau Ralston finishing in sixth place.
The standout ride went to young Victorian rider Jack Simpson who finished seventh outright and took out the E1 class.
Meanwhile Jemma Wilson was again too strong for the field in the Women’s class, this time beating Jess Gardiner who put in a solid effort.
Third went to Emelie Karlsson who held off three Queensland riders in Tamara Gray, Ebony Nielsen and Ainsleigh Ross, while the sole Victorian rider in Kate Norman finished in seventh place.
Other class winners included Kirk Hutton (Vets), Derek Grundy (Masters), Zak Mitten (J4), Jye Bennett (J3), Sam Noonan (J2).
The Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship now heads to Portland, New South Wales on 9-10 April.
Story by Russell Colvin