The 2022 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) makes its second and final visit to Queensland on April 8-9, with the Motul Pirelli Sherco Race Team chasing some big points in the sprint format event.
After a brutal season opener at Warwick in March – where both bikes and bodies left the event a little worse for wear – Jonte Reynders (300 SE Factory, E3) and Callum Norton (450 SEF Factory, E2) head to Mackay second and fourth respectively in their championship classes.
Mackay's specials tests will be more expansive, too, which will suit the free-wheeling style of both Sherco riders.
But with relatively long 13 and 9km loops, which riders will complete back-to-back four times a day, as well as 29-degree heat and high humidity, Mackay is still going to be a major examination for the Sherco duo – as well as the other 189 competitors who are locked in for round three and four action.
Reynders' preparation for Mackay has included a round of the Tasmanian enduro title and, even though he's still dealing with a couple of nagging injuries, he's ready to go.
"I'm super excited to get racing this week, and even with the small injuries we will make the best of it and continue to build off the results we got in the opening two rounds of the AORC," said 24-year-old Reynders.
"The team has got the bike all ready and now it’s up to me to go put in the results we know we are capable of. I've just got to put it all together and limit the mistakes and we know we can put some solid results down."
Reynders' arch-rival in E3 is shaping up as Andrew Wilksch, while in E2 – the most heavily subscribed class with 28 entries – Norton will be arm wrestling with the likes of Josh Green, Todd Waters, Michael Driscoll and Fraser Higlett.
"My motivation is through the roof heading to Mackay," said Norton. "Spearing chest-first into a tree in round one was certainly a baptism of fire for my AORC debut for Sherco, but I was proud of the way I regrouped and found some solid form by the end of proceedings.
"I've been training hard and riding lots back home in Victoria, and obviously the main goal is to make my way onto the E2 podium."
The AORC championship classes are being led by Kyron Bacon (E1), Green (E2) and Wilksch (E3) respectively.MACKAY ENTRY LIST
In addition to E1-E3, there are also dedicated AORC classes for juniors, women, masters and veterans.
The event will be held at Gum Valley Veterans and Natural Terrain Motorcycle Club, 135 Thompson Road, Koumala – about 65km south of Mackay. Spectators are welcome.Images: Troy Pears