Rounds one and two of the Australian Off-Road Championship proved to be a successful weekend for Sherco with multiple podium placings and promising performances from all involved. The double-header weekend was a sprint format with riders completing six sprint laps each day over dry and dusty bushland, rocky creek beds and sandy sections in extremely hot weather.
Motul Pirelli Sherco Factory rider Wil Ruprecht kicked off his series campaign in the best possible way by winning the Under-19 class on his 450SEF-R on Saturday and backing that up with second place at round two on Sunday.
“It was good to start the season with a win,” said Ruprecht. “Obviously I would have liked to win both days but I’ll take the points and work at building them. It was the first time the entire Team has raced together and it was a good atmosphere in the Sherco pits. The 450 was great and I had a lot of fun. I’ve had a couple of small injuries to deal with and I’ve got more speed when the time is right. I’m just riding smart for now and collecting good points so I’m looking forward to a positive season.”
Ruprecht’s Team mate, Justin Carafa put in a solid effort across both rounds carding 6th place in the E2 class on both days aboard his 450SEF-R.
“It was a good starting point for me,” Carafa reflected. “It was good to get through the first rounds safe and healthy. I have a lot of work to do because I know I’m up against world class riders. Dave Suter killed it with the bike setup. I didn’t even need to adjust my handlebars. He had everything sorted from tyre choice to suspension. I just need to pull my finger out and learn to read the terrain better and to adapt quicker to changing situations. That’s the difference between the front runners and me. But I learnt a lot and I can’t wait to get into the next few rounds.”
Motul Pirelli Sherco Academy Team riders Baylee Davies and Jai Wedlock worked hard and posted some very competitive times but inconsistency cost them higher placings. Davies inched forward in the E1 class standings from 9th on Saturday to 8th on Sunday. Similarly, Wedlock carded 10th place in the Under-19 class Saturday to move one place forward to 9th on Sunday.
Masters Class campaigner Derek Grundy made the field sit up and take notice when he placed 2nd and 1st across the two rounds. The Motorcycle Scene Sherco rider was fast and consistent and proved the Sherco 300SEF-R is a force to be reckoned with.
“First up I thought it was going to be tough but I gave it a go,” said Grundy after the event. “It has to be a consistent championship because one bad sprint can ruin it. My bike was working well but I didn’t want to push to the point where I was going to crash. It was my first time racing in Queensland and it was very hot but I enjoyed my time on the bike and with the Sherco team. The whole team environment was a credit to the people on the Sherco team.”
Sherco scored another podium with Jeff’s Bikes and Bits rider Bjorn Osborne claiming 3rd in the Veterans class on Saturday on his 300SE-R two-stoke. Osborne looked likely to repeat the performance in round two before an untimely crash resulted in a cut requiring medical attention.
The Motul Pirelli Sherco Teams will now concentrate on preparing for rounds 3 and 4 of the Championship on April 9/10 in NSW.