Heavy rains doused the track in the days leading up to the second round of the Australian Off-road Championship last weekend.
New Zealand’s Stefan Merriman was feeling good and ready to win after two successive wins at the NSW Enduro Champs in Dungog, NSW, and the NSW X-Country and Sprint Championships in Orange, NSW.
The heavy rains forced organisers of this year’s event in Bateman’s Bay, on NSW South Coast, to shorten the track and the special tests to allow the race to be run.
Yamaha’s Merriman started off well winning the first motocross test.
Current Australian Off-Road series leader Toby Price, of Singleton, fought back with a win in the third special test, with less than a couple of seconds separating the duo.
The battle continued with the two riders etching seconds on one another in the following tests. Merriman (from Salamander Bay, NSW) put in a solid fight beating Price in three out of the seven special tests. However it was Price who prevailed in the muddy conditions to take the outright win by a marginal seven seconds ahead of Merriman in second and third place on the podium went to KTM’s Jarrod Bewley.
Price won the first and second rounds of the Yamaha AORC held at Port Macquarie in March. Price recently returned from a stint in Europe where he competed in World Enduro Championship in Portugal where he won the Friday night “Supertest” for KTM Farioli. Rounds three and four of the Australian Offroad Championship (scheduled for May 1 and 2) had to be cancelled due to heavy rainfall in the host area (Conondale, QLD).
About the win Price said: “Today wasn’t too bad, I felt a little off the pace, it surprised me with a win that’s for sure. I managed to stay on the bike, didn’t crash or anything. The tests were in tight and windy conditions, I felt a little slow, but obviously my times were fairly good.
“The battle with Merriman was close today which was interesting”.
About the race Merriman said:” I felt good this weekend and I was hungry for the win, but Toby edged me out. The special tests were short, which made it hard to get a gap and there wasn’t more than one line to get an advantage.
It is a shame the event on Sunday had to be cancelled, due to the severe weather warning and rain.”
The next stop for the Australian Off-road Championship will be the Wedderburn (VIC) on July 10 and 11.
Outright Results – Saturday
1. Toby Price (KTM) 24:05.17
2. Stefan Merriman (Yamaha) 24:12.68
3. Jarrod Bewley (KTM) 24:18.64
4. Ben Grabham (KTM) 24:30.20
5. AJ Roberts (Honda) 25:03.20
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com