A fire in the early hours of Thursday morning, April 7 destroyed the King Valley Motorcycles workshop and office building, taking with it the entire Motul Pirelli Sherco Factory Team race bikes, spares and pit setup. The race Team bikes and equipment had been prepared onsite for the upcoming Australian Off-Road Championship in NSW.
“It’s been a rough few days for the Team,” said Motul Pirelli Sherco Team manager, Stephen Tuff. “We’re all just so upset for Dave Suter and his family. Dave is a massive part of our Team. He’s not just a fantastic mechanic, he’s the experienced, cool head that makes the right moves for our Team. He’s worked super-hard getting our race bikes as good as any you will find. The fire has wiped out our team infrastructure and Dave has lost his livelihood.”
Despite the huge challenge of getting to Portland, NSW for rounds 3 & 4 of the AORC the Team worked hard to pull together bikes and enough equipment to go racing. Factory Team riders Justin Carafa and Wil Ruprecht and Academy Team riders Jai Wedlock and Baylee Davies took on the task and made it happen.
“Jai Wedlock and his father Wayne were incredible getting the Team to the race,” Tuff continued. “With the help of Paul Luxmore at Powerhouse Motorcycles the Wedlock’s carted the Team van with borrowed bikes and parts from Powerhouse Motorcycles and got the show on the road. Our Team might not be the biggest or brightest just yet but it is the best.”
The highlight of the weekend was the performance by Under-19 class competitor Wil Ruprecht. Riding a borrowed Sherco 300SE-R, Ruprecht dug in and quickly adapted to the 300cc two-stroke to pull off 3rd and 2nd place over the two days of competition.
“It was a huge effort from Jai, his Dad and Tuffy getting the Team up and running,” Ruprecht commented after the event. “It was tough but we worked together and in the end I had a fun weekend of racing. The 300 is a lot different to the 450 I usually race but I adapted to it quickly. I’m only 4 points off the Championship lead and I’m pumped for the next round.”
It wasn’t such a great weekend for fellow Factory Team rider Justin Carafa who struggled in the conditions. “It was like riding on marbles for me,” Carafa said. “I just couldn’t gel with the tracks so I pushed harder then crashed. Then I rode too cautious. But it is what it is so I’ll just have to do better at the next round.”
Academy Team rider Baylee Davies was left with some tough lessons to learn after struggling with his race craft. “I had a shocker Saturday,” lamented Davies. “I made mistakes but Sunday I rode smarter. I had one good test so the positive is I have the speed, I just need to harness it in the right places at the right times to make it count.”
Jai Wedlock experienced a weekend of frustration. After putting in a huge effort off the track to get the Team racing, Wedlock suffered a crash injuring his back and shoulder. “I made a mistake and high-sided then the bike hit me in the back. My left shoulder is pretty sore and my bike is bent. I’m just pissed off that I made such an effort for the Team and this is what happened. I think I’ll be alright though. I’ll do better at the next round.”
The Motul Pirelli Sherco Team is determined to get back on track, rebuild and continue racing.
The next event for the Factory and Academy Team is rounds 5 & 6 of the AORC in South Australia, April 23-24.
Photo credits: John Pearson Media.