As the 2011 Australian Off Road Championship hits the halfway stage, the Force Accessories Thor Honda Racing Team is in a positive frame of mind.
Round one saw E2 rider AJ Roberts (pictured above) riding with a serious hand injury sustained while finalising his bike setup.
Even with this injury, he dug deep through the rocky cross country track and pushed through the pain to score some much needed championship points. After surgery on the broken ligament in his thumb, Roberts’ focus turned towards the Australian 4-Day Enduro (A4DE) which saw him change to the E1 class and ride a CRF250R. This event has to date been the highlight of his year.
“I was very happy that I stayed pretty consistent over the four days to finish 3rd in the E1 class.”
“I had only had a couple of weeks on the CRF250R before the event and on Day 3 I actually made a shock change which really helped and made the bike more comfortable,” said Roberts.
The second half of the championships sees Roberts making a permanent change from E2 to the E1 class.
“It started with the A4DE where I decided to ride the CRF250R. I thought the A4DE would have really nasty rocky tests and I’d feel more comfortable in those conditions on the smaller capacity. If I had of known that the A4DE was going to be as fast as it was, I don’t think I would have changed classes for that event, however I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed the event and the CRF250R.
“Since I haven’t earned many points at the first four rounds in the E2 class because of my hand injury and a DNF I have decided to keep riding the CRF250R in the E1 Class. I feel fresh on the bike and I’m enjoying a new style of riding,” he said.
In preparation for the next round in South Australia on August 27/28, Roberts has been doing a lot of sand riding to prepare for what will be a very rough and sandy track.
In between the AORC events, Roberts is planning to race the QLD Enduro championship and another couple of smaller events, and is particularly looking forward to the Force Accessories WILD WOOD Rock Extreme race to be held in Victoria on November 20.
His team-mate, Nick Beattie, had a much better start to the season and although getting up close and personal with a tree during the early stages of the race it was a podium finish for Beattie who said was the toughest race to date. Beattie is currently placed 2nd in the E3 class of the AORC championship with all his hard work and training paying off.
The highlight of the year to date for Beattie (pictured right) was also the first A4DE round which saw him with a 3rd in his class and 9th outright.
“The A4DE went really well for me all my tests were great I had a few small crashes in trail time but no crashes in any of my tests. I felt right at home in the fast flowing tracks I could really open the big CRF480R up on those fast straights! Overall the 4 day was my best result at a National event and I’m really happy with my result,” he said.
Beattie is currently doing some sand training and testing with Roberts in preparation for South Australia and is also planning to compete in the QLD Enduro Championship in September. Some local QLD Enduro and Motocross races will also be a part of Beattie’s ongoing training and preparation for the remainder of the AORC season.
In addition to both riders finishing on the podium in their respective classes, Beattie and Roberts formed a Trade Team with young E1 rider Dylan Rose for the A4DE finishing and impressive 3rd against a selection of more heavily backed Enduro teams.
© Photos by Greg Smith, www.ikapture.com.au