MERRIMAN FLIES AT 2011 YAMAHA AORC OPENER, DAY 1
Round one of the 2011 Yamaha Australian Off Road Championship is done and dusted with multiple World Championship winner and Ballard’s Yamaha Off-Road Team’s, Stefan Merriman, returning to stunning form to take line honours ahead of team-mate Chris Hollis and Motorex KTM Off-Road Team’s Jarrod Bewley.
The gruelling three-hour Cross-Country format event on Saturday at Bulahdelah, NSW, saw the course take many prisoners including reigning Champ and Motorex KTM rider Toby Price --who after missing two fuel stops, was left running on empty whilst in the lead.
Husqvarna’s Glenn Kearney also fell afoul of the track, suffering mechanical problems -- marring his return to the Australian Championship after years competing in the US.
Nearly 300 competitors took to the course throughout the first round, pushing through 30-plus degree heat and dry conditions in the combined national and state championship rounds.
In the E1 class, Merriman was the clear winner, with KTM’s Ben Grabham and Yamaha’s Kirk Hutton rounding out the top three places.
Hollis took out the E2 class ahead of Polish import Bartosz Oblucki riding for Husqvarna and Geoff Braico (Husaberg).
Bewley was first across the line for the E3 class, followed by Yamaha’s Matt Phillips and Husqvarna’s Matt Ryan, both of whom have made the switch from Motocross in 2011.
In the Masters Class, team boss Geoff Ballard took the top spot with David Cash (Yamaha) and Trent Lean (Suzuki) rounding out the top three.
Garry Dukes (Husaberg) took out the first round of the Veterans ahead of Mark Woolley (Yamaha) and Anthony Smidt (KTM).
Sweden’s Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha) took line honours in the Women’s championship class, ahead of Jemma Wilson (Yamaha) and Tanya Hearne (KTM) -- while reigning champ and Yamaha rider Jess Gardiner suffered bike problems and failed to finish.
Round two of the AORC kicks into gear on Sunday featuring the action-packed Sprint format.
Full results, including Junior championship classes, from the first round of racing can be found on the Series website at www.ma.org.au/aorc.
Check out videos of the outright top three from round one on the AORC Facebook fan page.
For more information on the 2011 Yamaha AORC check out the www.ma.org.au/aorc web site and the series’ Facebook page for the latest photo galleries and videos.