KTM’s Toby Price gets the defence of his AORC crown off to a cracking start with a double win

Marking the opening round of the 2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship, Kilkivan in Queensland saw the battle for this year’s top honours commence.

A muggy and dusty day greeted competitors for the first round of the series and despite the prospect of overnight rain not materialising, Sunday’s planned five heats were shortened to four after conditions were ruled too dangerous to continue.

With everyone eager to gain an early advantage, it was Price who stood firm at the top of the standings.

“That’s the start you definitely always hope for,” told Price at the end of his weekend’s work. “The first day was a bit of a rough day; I didn’t quite start off too well in the first test. One rider had a couple of little mishaps in front of me, and I got caught up in his dust and couldn’t see a thing at all.

“Sunday was good. I stayed up the whole time and put down some good times. It’s good to be on that 500 again, it’s an awesome bike, and it suited the conditions on the weekend very well.”

Upfront at it was Price who dominated both the overall standing and his Enduro 3 class on day one to win with a total time of 41:15.259 ahead of Enduro 2 class winner and Yamaha’s Beau Ralston in second place overall.

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Lachlan Stanford rounded out the top three on his Husqvarna. Yamaha’s Josh Green made it a winning start for their all-new WR250F with victory in the Enduro 1 class and fourth overall. Yamaha’s Chris Hollis completed top five.

Still recovering from an AC joint injury suffered in February racing in the Australian Enduro-X Nationals, Hollis burst out of the blocks to take out the first heat, but a mishap in the second heat eradicated his marginal early lead, allowing KTM youngster Daniel ‘Chucky’ Sanders to claim heat two.

Hollis recovered to win heat three and the impressive Ralston topped the field in heat five, but it was the ultra-consistent Price with wins in the fourth and sixth heats that saw him get his AORC season off to the best possible start.

On day two, Price performed best in the dust to win three of the four heats available with a time of 28:38.865. Upping his positions, Hollis improved to second overall and with it secured the E2 win ahead Ralston in third.

“It was a good way to start the championship and I’m really happy with the progress I have made over the off season,” said Ralston. “Last year was a real learning curve for me but I now feel I know what it takes to race off road well and with the support of the Active8 Yamaha team behind me, I think I’m in a good position to win some rounds and contend for the championship.”

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Green again topped the E1 class with another impressive ride on the small-bore thumper while KTM’s Ty Simmonds chased him home for fifth.

“Winning the class is good but outright results are still my main goal,” told Green. “Leaving the opening weekend inside the top five, fit and healthy is a great start to the championship and hopefully things can continue to improve from here.”

In the Transmoto 19 and Under class, Peter Daniel Allen blitzed the field to win day one while Tom Mason – second on day one – placed first on day two

In the Women’s class, Tayla Jones continued on with her fantastic form to win both days ahead of Jess Gardiner and Jemma Wilson.

The 2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship now heads to Hedley, Victoria on April 18-19.

2015 Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship results Kilkivan, QLD

Day 1:
1. Toby Price (E3),
 2. Beau Ralston (E2),
 3. Lachlan Stanford (E2), 
4. Josh Green (E2),
 5. Chris Hollis (E2),
 6. Daniel Sanders (E3),
 7. Tye Simmonds (E2),
 8. Glenn Kearney (E3), 
9. Stefan Granquist (E3),
 10. Scott Keegan (E2)

Day 2:
1. Toby Price (E3),
 2. Chris Hollis (E2),
 3. Beau Ralston (E2),
 4. Josh Green (E1), 
5. Tye Simmonds (E2),
 6. Lachlan Stanford (E2),
 7. Daniel Sanders (E3), 
8. Glenn Kearney (E3), 
9. Stefan Granquist (E3), 
10. Scott Keegan (E2)