It was a grandstand finish for Yamaha supported riders and teams at the final weekend of racing for the 2023 Australian Off-Road Championships (AORC) with the bLU cRU taking home seven championships in a climatic finish to the season.The E1 (250cc), E2 (450cc), EJ (Under 18), EW (Women), JG, (Junior Girls), JJ (65cc) as well as the coveted Outright victory are in the hands of Yamaha riders and again proving the performance and versatility of the Yamaha dirt bike range. There were also a range of podium results in the E1, EJ and J3 and J2 classes.
To view the AORC Championship bLU cRU video: https://youtu.be/ceXwOnaQjfs
The resumes of Josh Green, Cooper Sheidow, Wil Dennett, Jess Gardiner, Danielle McDonald and Ryder Burchell were all enhanced over the weekend as the off road titans contested rounds 11 and 12 of the AORC in warm, yet dusty conditions at Dungog in NSW.
The monkey is finally off his back and after 13 years of trying, Josh Green can call himself at Outright winner of the Australian Championship. Green has won class divisions and podiumed in Outright, but has never stood on the top step, until now. Green came into the weekend with a comfortable 27-point lead but after a run of recent injuries, he was taking nothing for granted.
He put up a fight on day one to finish second in his class and secure his first championship of the year in the E2 division, but it was the Outright win Green was after and his third on the day meant all he needed was a single point at the 12th and final round.
Sunday dawned and Green raced well within himself to finish the day out safely to secure enough points and claim the 2023 AORC Outright Championship.
“This has been a long time coming and after so many attempts, it’s awesome to finally win an Outright championship,” Green explains. “This year has had its challenges with injury after injury and there were even times when I thought me winning Outright just wasn’t meant to be in my career, but the team and I kept working and here we are with the number 1 plate.
“There are so many people that work behind the scenes to get me on the track and keep me there and they have all played a part in helping me achieve this result. It was cool to have my family here as well as my partner as they don’t go to many races. It was also a good feeling to get it done with AJ. We have been together for a long time as rider and manager and still have a great working relationship. Together we have enjoyed a lot of round and series wins, but I think this is the one we both wanted,” Green ends.
Joining him in championship glory was Cooper Sheidow. The WSB Yamaha, Yamalube supported rider took out the E1 class after a season long battle with Korey McMahon. The pair were separated by just four points coming into the weekend, with Sheidow holding the upper hand.
The pressure was on during the first day as McMahon edged ahead during the day and it looked like the margin would be reduced to two points but in the final test, McMahon made a mistake and lost considerable time, handing Sheidow the advantage for the round and extending the gap to six points.
With six points up his sleeve, it was a matter of racing with some common sense on Sunday and ensuring that McMahon stayed within sight all day to secure his maiden professional championship. And that’s exactly what he did. In fact, only .7 of a second separated them at the end of day two, but the championship was Sheidow’s.
“I’m a bit speechless at the moment, this is the first national championship I have ever won,” he said. “I made a change to Yamaha at the start of this season and it’s been unreal as they have supported me in racing and the assistance AJ has offered has been amazing.
“Korey and I have had a great battle all year and it’s been good racing him. We both got a bit lucky when Kyron Bacon got injured but we kept in the fight all year and I finished nearly every round on the podium and my bike didn’t miss a beat.
“Thank you to the AORC people for putting the series together, WSB distributors, Yamaha, AJ as well as my family for all the effort they put in. It's cool to win it for them as well as me,” he signs off.
There is no doubt Wil Dennett is the most improved rider in this years AORC. Contesting the EJ class, Dennett has been right up the exhaust pipe of the established professional riders in 2023 and even gave Kyron Bacon all he can handle at Kyogle to finish second outright recently.
So it was fitting that speed transitioned into a championship win and Dennett took the EJ class with a round to spare. Dennett won eight rounds this year and finished on the podium at the others to be the dominant rider in the Under 18 class and fire a warning shot across the rear guard of his rivals in the pro classes for 2024.
“I’m pumped to get the win. I worked really hard in the pre-season, and I just love riding the YZ450F and I think those two things were what elevated me this year. Each round I was able to get a little bit closer to the guys at the front and I was able to learn as the year went on as well.
“Having Josh Green and Kyron around us when we walk the tests has been cool and all the Yamaha guys get on well, so it’s a fun environment to go racing.
“Thanks to my Dad for all the work he puts in as well as Yamaha for their support his year as its really helped us to keep racing after the floods in Lismore did so much damage last year,” Dennett said.
Will Jess Gardiner ever slow down? The weekend saw her win her…..we have lost count, AORC Women’s championship and again, she did it in style. In the dry and dusty conditions and still feeling the effects of a long haul back from Europe only days earlier, Gardiner went on to win both final rounds and cement herself as Australia’s winningest off-road female racer.
“I need a rest,” she said moments after finishing on Sunday. “We spent the last couple of weeks racing in 30-degree heat in Portugal, returned home to hot conditions here and had to race all weekend in Dungog, so I think I’m done,” she laughs.
“It' s been a hectic year for myself and Jeremy with racing in Europe and Australia and to finish the year with another AORC championship to add to my second place in the World Championship makes it all worthwhile.
“We have some great people behind us that support what we do and it' s not over yet. I will take a couple of days off before we get ready to head over to Argentina for the ISDE and hopefully we can get another World Women’s Title to really make 2023 a year to remember.”
As dominant as Gardiner is in the Women’s class, her younger teammate and student, Danielle McDonald, matched those results in the Junior Girls. McDonald won her championship with a round to spare such was her dominance in 2023 and was even able to sit out the final round as she suffered a niggling knee injury.
McDonald, still a junior, more than matched it with the boys and often is found inside the top five in the junior classes as her improvement continues with each round.
“I had a crash on Saturday and gave my knee a bit of a jolt, so we elected to sit today out. With races in Argentina and the US coming up and the championship already won, we felt it was best to give it some rest and not risk hurting it more.
“Luckily, I was able to win the championship yesterday and it was nice of the team and my family to celebrate with me. They all make so many sacrifices so my brother and I can race and they put so much effort in to help in our success,” McDonald said emotively.
And the youngest of our champions is Ryder Burchell who took out the JJ division on his YZ65. Burchell didn’t quite get the champagne shower as his older teams mate did, but he was no less pumped in winning a national title.
“On behalf of everyone at Yamaha, I wish to congratulate all the riders, teams and sponsor partners who have again assisted us in achieving some amazing results,” said Yamaha Motorsport Manager, Scott Bishop.
“Racing is a huge commitment and spending time with everyone over the series, it’s easy to understand the passion they have for it as well the emotions when they achieve success. It was just as exciting to see Josh win an outright title as it was to see Ryder win the JJ class, so it was a great championship for Yamaha and one we are proud to be a part of.
“Thank you to not only those that won championships but also all the competitors for making the AORC a worthy national championship. It has a significant history in producing a constant stream of world class riders over the last 20 years and there is no reason to say it cant continue for the next 20,” Bishop ends.
Yamaha AORC Champions
1st Josh Green- Outright
1st Cooper Sheidow – E1
1st Josh Green – E2
1st Wil Dennett – EJ
1st Jess Gardiner – EW
1st Danielle McDonald – JG
1st Ryder Burchell – JJ
Yamaha 2023 Honour Role
2nd Dylan McDonald – J3
2nd Kyron Bacon - Outright
3rd Kyron Bacon – E1
3rd Jett Yarnold – EJ
AORC Outright Results
1st Josh Green –E2 - 200 (Yamaha)
2nd Kyron Bacon - E1 185 (Yamaha)
3rd Jonte Reynders – E2 - 183
4th Korey McMahon – E1 – 153
5th Jye Dickson – E2 – 153
6th Riley McGullivray – E3- 132
7th Cooper Sheidow – E1 – 130 (Yamaha)
8th Wil Dennett – EJ- 128 (Yamaha)
9th Stefan Granquist – E3- 115
10th Fraser Higlett – E2 - 114