It’s just a couple of weeks to go for the opening round of the 2022 Australian Off-Road Championships (AORC) and the ShopYamaha Off-Road team are eager for the return of racing.
It’s been a long two years in the off-road racing scene in Australia. The 2020 and 2021 seasons were ravaged by covid with only a few national events taking place over that time but all that has done is raise the level of excitement in the ShopYamaha Off Road Team as the first weekend of racing draws closer.
The first weekend of racing in this year’s AORC gets underway at Cherrabah, in Queensland, hosting rounds one and two of this years’ championship. Nestled on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, one hour from Brisbane, Cherrabah is a country stay style resort that offers scenic riding and a great atmosphere to kick off the year. And while the scenery is tranquil, the racing will be far from it.
The ShopYamaha Team will have a busy weekend as its now a four-rider unit under the guidance of former champ, AJ Roberts. With two riders contesting the E1 (250cc) and two riders in the E2 (450cc) category, AJ will need eyes in the back of his head over the opening weekend, but he is more than happy to get to work and get back to what he loves doing.
“The hardest thing for a race team to do during the height of the pandemic is not racing. We are all geared up to race, it’s been a part of our lives for so long and when that stopped, we were all restless and looking for things to do,” he explained.
“But having all the team here at our base over the last week, going through all the final preparations and getting the photoshoot done means we are getting close to racing again and I could sense it in the team. The guys are keen and ready to let the competitive juices flow.
“The testing and photos quickly turned into a race, changing tyres became a competition and I think they are just desperate to get back into it and do what they love.”
The team underwent some tweaking recently and all falling under the one umbrella of ShopYamaha. The team will still take two trucks to each event and offer support to Yamaha riders at the AORC events, as they have done in the past.
Josh Green and Michael Driscoll will spearhead the team in the 450cc division with both riders more than capable of holding up the championship trophy at the end of the season. Green continues to prove age is no barrier as he shows no signs of slowing and is always motivated to go racing. Driscoll is at the perfect age where he now has the physical and mental maturity to ride the 450cc well in all conditions and has done his apprenticeship in the class. He is ready and willing to win.
In the E1 (250cc), it will be Kyron Bacon and Blake Hollis flying the ShopYamaha flag. Bacon has improved considerably over the past two years and nothing short of an E1 championship will satisfy him this year. While Blake Hollis is coming along nicely and is focused on taking it up to his more experienced teammate.
“We have put in a lot of work over the past few months to prepare for 2022,” AJ continues. “Yamaha have been so supportive of off-road racing both with our team as well as supporting the championship and I feel our bikes are as good as they have ever been. The riders are happy with what we have been able to produce for them and now it’s a matter of putting everything in the real-life test of racing. It’s only two weeks away and we can’t wait,” he concluded.
2022 AORC Calendar
March 19-20: Round 1&2 – Cherrabah, QLD.
April 8-9: Round 3&4 – Mackay, QLD
July 18-19: Round 5&6 – Kyogle, NSW
August 6-7: Round 7&8 – Nowra, NSW
September 17-18: Round 9&10 – Kingston, SA
October 8-9: Round 11&12 – Wynyard. TAS.