Off Road

Chatting With Riley Graham

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds


Chatting With Riley Graham
Riley Graham certainly turned some heads in 2017 with some fantastic AORC results, an E2 Podium Championship result and nearly winning the SA 24hr Reliability trial at his first attempt.

A regular on the Australian Off-Road Championship circuit over the past few years racing everything from 150 two stroke back in 2015 where he finished 3rd in E1 and 12th outright to a Yamaha 250FX in 2016 were again finished 3rd in E1 but moved up to 9th outright.

In 2017 against a very high quality field, Graham continued his upward swing in results, moving on to a bike more suited to his size and powering to 2nd in the E2 class and 5th outright.

The South Australia does not want that trend to stop in 2018, with the former top ten national MX1 rider again lining up aboard a Yamaha YZ450FX to tackle the E2 class in this years AORC along with his sites set on both Hattah and the 24hr road Trial he had won before being handed a penalty in 2017.

We caught up with Riley to speak about his 2017 season and his plans for 2018 along with spending a day capturing him in action getting ready for a big year ahead with his newly formed TRG Yamaha Racing team.
Chatting With Riley Graham
Riley Graham gets in some pre-season riding before a big year ahead.
Fullnoise: Before we get into what you have planned for 2018, it is fair to say you had your best year to-date racing wise in 2017, Finishing 2nd to only Daniel Milner in the E2 championship.

Riley G: For sure 2017 was a great year for me, I hit every goal I had at the start of the year. I wanted outright podiums a class podium for the season and top 5 outright at season end I managed to tick all of those boxes and another state off road title also.

It was great I had career best results all season including a lot of great overall round results in the second half of the series and finished 2nd in class.

I feel I was consistent all year and it was a great effort from my Mum to travel and help with what she could at each round.

Fullnoise:The AORC was not the only place you had some great success in 2017, you also attempted the long standing 24hr reliability even in South Australia, a 24 hour race taking in four laps in a true endure format.

The win could have been yours, however you copped a penalty that took that win away. What happened to cause the penalty and how did you feel about it, will you head back to race the event after what happened in 2017?

Riley G: Last year was my first attempt at the 24hr event; it’s a great event and It was very cool to finish the race on my first try it’s a good feeling.

I had some issues on lap 2 and was handed a ten-minute penalty as I failed to stop at a checkpoint that was poorly set up.

They had put bunting up across where our previous laps worn in track had been and being dark it took my concentration to see any changes, so I missed a stop sign that was in a poorly placed spot.

After I failed to stop the sign was moved!

I tried hard fighting all of this. They had let multiple riders off for a similar sign problem on lap one in the daylight and a rider was even told by an official to ride backwards on the course and come down a correct track so he would not be penalised.

But after all of these things where admitted to from officials and clerks of course my penalty was not overturned so I feel for sure it was a bit of an unfair decision.

But hey I’m keen to go back and have another go at it the race itself is so cool I mean at 2-3am in the morning it’s pretty amazing riding along thinking how cool is this I’m racing my bike at night so yea it’s a great race and keen to try go for a win again.
Chatting With Riley Graham
From being a top privateer MX racer early in his career, Riley has taken very well to the Off-Road world with his results improving each and every year.
Fullnoise: Despite the awesome result, you have not been picked up by any of the “Factoryâ€
Chatting With Riley Graham
For 2018 Riley has taken young gun Taj Gow-Smith under his wing with the Yamaha 85cc rider set to take on the J2 class in this years AORC
Fullnoise: Who has jumped on board to help you in your quest to run a small team for 2018?

Riley G: We actually have a lot of support. Yamaha is helping out with what they can and it is great to have their support again this year.

We also have some outside sponsors getting behind it which is amazing.

Along with Ficeda Accessories, ipone oils Dunlop, Axo, Scott, SK designs USWE hydration and 6D helmets we have been fortunate enough to also have some great support from TRG transport and Secker Realestate which has really helped out with our program.

Fullnoise: As you said, you have a junior rider in Taj Gow-Smith riding along side of you, how did that come about and is it something you will look to do more going forward

Riley G: I met the Gow-smith family years ago when I worked at Roxby downs to support me through racing the mx nationals.

Taj was really only just getting into racing back then, since that time he’s grown up a lot he’s ridden for multiple years with Yamaha on Shane Metcalfe’s junior Yamaha team and has gained a lot of skills through that.

He’s a very energetic kid and his whole family wears their hearts on their sleeves and is very passionate about racing bikes.

It’s a new experience for us all and just something new and fun for us both really.

As for this being ongoing and growing it can’t tell you what the future will be it’s all looking great so far and we are all excited for it.
Chatting With Riley Graham
Keep an eye out for the number 2 plated Yamaha YZ450FX at this years AORC rounds and a few other big events.
Fullnoise: What goals have you set both yourself heading into the 2018 AORC championship.

Riley G: I am wanting to battling for a E2 championship to be honest. I know we have a very stacked class this year with returning riders along with riders who have done great in past years.

It will not be easy but I feel I can battle with them. It may not be every round but staying consistent again getting the odd round wins hopefully and pushing them will be fun.

I think for Taj it’s a new challenge for him and I can see him doing really well

We just have to keep him calm on race days and not get to hyped up and I think he can be a strong chance to hopefully win J2 class which would be amazing.

Fullnoise: Along with the AORC what other events will we see the team at in 2018

Riley G: This year is looking to be massive.

Both Taj and I will be racing all of the AORC the SAORC and Hattah I think Hattah will be a big focus this year for both of us.

We have the perfect training grounds for it at Roxby and we already are getting in quality time in the desert.

Personally I want to push for a outright podium for the event.

Taj I think he again has great sand skills and can be a podium guy also.

I will also be racing the A4DE and the SA 24hr reliability trial so it’s going to be a very busy year.

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