The 2023 Australian Hard Enduro Championship (AHEC) kicked off on the weekend, with the first round held in Towong Upper (Northeast Victoria), aptly named the ‘Kosciuszko Killer’ notoriously known as one of the most challenging events on the calendar.
The national championship, now affiliated with Motorcycling Australia, has seen a revised race format for the 2023 season, with a Special Test on Day 1 awarding half points, followed by the more traditional Cross-Country format on Day 2, awarding the full points gamut.
Saturday’s special test was reduced from 2 hours to 1 hour for the premier Gold class due to the rising temperatures and diminishing conditions. Sherco-supported rider Tom Woodhouse took first blood with an incredibly fierce and immensely entertaining battle for the lead with Ruben Chadwick, who pressured the 19-year-old Tasmanian for the entire race, even passing him on the penultimate lap. Tom, responded with a clever outside line which would see him retake the lead and ultimately a victory for the first day by the narrowest of margins.
Motul Sherco Team riders Anthony Solar and Chris Perry rounded out the top-5 in P4 and P5, respectively, with their focus on Sunday’s more challenging course.
Sunday’s race will be remembered as one of the ‘hardest-ever’ for many of the 228 competitors, of whom a significant portion were competing aboard Sherco machinery.
Having finished 1-2 in the year prior, the expectations were high for the Sherco squad. Unfortunately, that success couldn’t quite be repeated this time around however, Sherco riders would lockout P3-P5 overall with Woodhouse, Solar and Perry, respectively.
Tom Woodhouse – P3 overall
“Wow, what a crazy weekend that was! I’m stoked to have gotten the race 1 win on Saturday; I had a lot of fun battling with Ruben; he certainly made me earn it! Sunday was just a tough day for everyone - fifth place was the best I could manage on the day. However, I’m glad to have come away with an overall podium finish overall and looking forward to the next round in Maffra”.
Anthony Solar – P4 overall
“Being off the podium is definitely not the result I was striving for. It just didn’t happen for me, unfortunately. My Sherco 300 SE Factory was running great all weekend, I just lost too much time at the start on Sunday and couldn’t close the gap with the leaders. Congratulations to Tom on his overall podium; it is great to see him riding well. We’ll regroup and come out swinging at round 2.”
Chris Perry – P5 overall
“It’s not how I wanted to start the season, that’s for sure. We have a fantastic team and motorcycle here at Sherco, and I expect to be on the box at every round, not only for myself but everyone around me. To fall short of that this weekend, I must say I’m a little disappointed with myself. On the upside, we’re leaving this event healthy and fired up for redemption.”
The second round of the 2023 AHEC, the 'Mother of Mayham’ in Maffra (VIC), will be held on May 13-14.
For more information on the championship, visit grassrootsenduro.com.au
RESULTS | Saturday 1st April 2023
2023 AHEC Round 1 – Race 1 – Top 5 Results: Gold Class
1st 25 Tom Woodhouse (Sherco-supported)
2nd 64 Ruben Chadwick
3rd 32 Adam Giles
4th 1 Anthony Solar (Motul Sherco Hard Enduro Team)
5th 76 Chris Perry (Motul Sherco Hard Enduro Team)
RESULTS | Sunday 2nd April 2023
2023 AHEC Round 1 – Race 2 – Top 5 Results: Gold Class
1st 64 Ruben Chadwick
2nd 32 Adam Giles
3rd 1 Anthony Solar (Motul Sherco Hard Enduro Team)
4th 76 Chris Perry (Motul Sherco Hard Enduro Team)
5th 25 Tom Woodhouse (Sherco-supported)
2023 AHEC Round 1 – Overall Results – Top 5 Results: Gold Class
1st 64 Ruben Chadwick 725
2nd 32 Adam Giles 660
3rd 25 Tom Woodhouse 640
4th 1 Anthony Solar 620
5th 76 Chris Perry 595