HOLLIS BACK IN OZ IN 2011 WITH BALLARD'S YAMAHA TEAM
Former Yamaha Australian Off-Road Champion, Chris Hollis (pictured), will be back on home soil next season campaigning for outright victory as part of the Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha Off-Road Team.
Another bright, young addition to the squad will be Tasmanian Matthew Phillips, who will contest the 2011 AORC and Mackay Australian 4-Day Enduro (A4DE) in the Championship E3 Class, aboard the big-bore YZ450F (YZ475).
Five-time world champion, Stefan Merriman, returns to the outfit for 2011, with fresh hopes for victory aboard a Yamaha 250F in Championship E1.
Team manager, Geoff Ballard, said the full line-up would again include himself (five-time AORC Masters Champ) as well as reigning AORC and A4DE Women’s victor, Jessica Gardiner, a ‘mystery’ Swedish rider with the surname: Granquist, and son, Josh.
“Honestly, I believe we can win all the championship classes [E1, E2, E3, master’s and women’s] with the team we’ve got for next year,’ Ballard said. “We’ve got some great talent and with the new additions, we’ll be firing on all cylinders, that’s for sure.
“Chris feels he can match the speed of (current AORC and A4DE champ) Toby Price and is looking good on the bike. He’s been testing at our facility the last two days on the WR450F and YZ450F and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He’s a fun guy to be around and we’re really happy to welcome him back to the team. Chris became the first rider in history to win the AORC and A4DE in the same year: in 2008, as a member of the Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha team, aboard a WR450F, however injury plagued his efforts in Europe this year, but he has recovered and is fit, healthy and back on form.”
Hollis, 26, from Port Macquarie (NSW), said he was “over the moon” to be back on Yamaha and would be giving it his all to take home another ‘dirty double’ (AORC and A4DE outright wins) next season.
Ballard said the team was also “very excited” to welcome rising star, Matt Phillips (from Wynyard on Tasmania’s north-west coast). At just 17-years-of-age, Phillips will be one of the youngest in the championship ranks.
“He’ll also be one of the fastest and a force to be reckoned with on the YZ475,” Ballard said. “Matt burst onto the enduro scene at the Four Day this year, where he was top-three Outright in a few special tests and ended up finishing a commendable eighth Outright. For such a young rider, Matt has shown incredible character and sportsmanship and above all, speed and ability.”
Phillips will have one experienced team-mate in particular to look up to, with Australian number two (for off-road and enduro), Stefan Merriman, back in blue for 2011. The 37-year-old from Nelson Bay (NSW) said he was looking forward to the change of machine and would be aiming to better his number two ranking.
The team will also have an exotic twist with the addition of Sweden motocross rider, Stefan Granquist -- son of racing legend Pelle Granquist -- who will be trying his hand at enduro on a WR450F in the Expert E2/3 Class.
Also vying for championship class crowns will be Yamaha Motor Australia riders Kirk Hutton (from Brisbane) and Tom McCormack (Byron Bay). Hutton and McCormack both plan to ride YZ250Fs in national meetings and YZ450Fs in state events. Hutton, 37, will be looking to add to his four Australian and 10 Queensland Enduro titles and said he was “thrilled” to continue his decade-long partnership with Yamaha.
A calendar for the 2011 AORC has yet to be finalised, however the 2011 A4DE is being held near Mackay (Queensland) from April 20th to 23rd (www.a4de.com).