Jess Gardiner and Danielle Macdonald now hold a commanding lead in the women’s categories of the Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) as the series reached the halfway point on the weekend.Rounds five and six of the twelve round championship were contested in perfect conditions at Mendooran, near Dubbo in central new South Wales. Originally slated in for a round at Kyogle, the venue change was result of the wet conditions in the Kyogle region forcing organiser to relocate to a drier area of New South Wales.
To view the Yamaha JGR Ballards Off Road Team weekend recap: https://youtu.be/bWNMHOt7C5w
The team were down to two riders very early in the peace when as E1 pilot, Jeremy Carpentier fell in the first sprint and dislocated his shoulder. He entered the event having just recovered from a broken hand but was capable of riding at speed, but then fell awkwardly on Saturday morning and had to be relocated at Dubbo hospital later that day.
But the women of the team continued their winning ways with Danielle Macdonald winning both days in the Junior Girls class, while team leader, Jess Gardiner finished with a 1-2 result over the weekend facing some stiff competition in the Senior Women’s class. Both riders comfortably lead their respective class now at the halfway stage.
Jess Gardiner’s undefeated run in 2022 come to an end over the weekend when she finished second in round six. She was able to claw her way to victory on Saturday (round five) despite coming up against Megan Rutledge, a former multi-time motocross champion as well as Taylor Thompson, an up-coming rider making a name for herself in motocross and off road.
Gardiner fought off the challenges of Rutledge on Saturday and prevailed to take a close victory but on Sunday, Thompson was able to get a handle on the off road way of racing and pinch a win from Gardiner.
“With Meg and Taylor coming to do this event added a lot more competition into the class and I’m glad both the girls decided to race it. Meg has been amazing for the sport in Australia, and this is her first national level race in years so she is still super-fast and so competitive.
“And Taylor, who does a lot of motocross, is still so young and doing this event might see her do some more off road in the future. I knew both would be good as the track and the sprint format is probably the easiest to adapt to for riders who do a lot of motocross. I loved that they both competed and hope it encourages more women to come race, be it at AORC or ProMX.
“For me, it was a good weekend without too many issues. I felt pretty good on the bike both days although I know I’m not the greatest sand rider and its not my preferred surface to race on, so it was good to stay strong, finish well and gain as many points in the championship as I could.
“Thanks to all our team sponsors and supporters and look forward to the next round were hopefully we can get Jeremy back and be at full strength again,” Gardiner ends.
Danielle Macdonald continued on her winning ways with another clean sweep of the weekend on her YZ125. Macdonald hasn’t lost a round so far in 2022 in the Junior Girls division and continually upsets the boys as she isn’t afraid to mix it up out on the trail. Her speed and race craft develops at each and every round and as she combines her determination with her bike skill, she will be a major player when she hits the senior divisions in years to come.
“I really enjoyed the riding here at Mendooran,” Danielle begins. “Because the soil is sandy based and we had so many riders, all the sprints got really rough and I loved that it made you work hard and think your way through it.
“The bike was awesome all weekend and thanks to my family and the Yamaha JGR team for tall their efforts.”
Yamaha riders also performed strong in a range of other classes contested over the weekend. As mentioned, Taylor Thompson won the EW class on Sunday, Yamaha Junior Racing rider, Seth Burchell won both days in the J4 class on his YZ250F while Ollie gear, Marcus Nowland and Harley Hutton all took class victories in J3. J2 and J1 respectively.