Fourth and third place for Gardiner at a rain soaked Hedley in Victoria
Jess Gardiner walked away from last weekend’s seventh and eighth round of the 2016 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) with a fourth and third place respectfully at Hedley in Victoria.
Round seven on Saturday marked the first cross-country format for the season, which was conducted in somewhat diabolical conditions thanks to mother-nature during the course of the week and at the round itself.
Before the round even got underway it was clear that the sand area was pretty good, however the grass track area was simply under water making conditions really hard to deal with.
Ahead of the start for the two hour cross-country it was sunny. However ten minutes before the start the heavens opened up, along with heavy wind to deal with as well making things even harder to deal with.
This didn’t stop Gardiner who managed to snare the holeshot aboard her Yamaha WR250F machine, leading the way in women’s class. The 23-year-old held onto the lead for half a lap until engaging in a battle with fellow Yamaha rider, Sophie Coldicutt.
Gardiner got back by Coldicutt. During this time Gardiner did come off her machine two times which allowed two of her rivals back by being Coldicutt and Jemma [Wilson].
In the last two laps of the race out in the back section of the course in the grass section, Gardiner got bogged twice in separate spots. Coming into the ruts was good, however they were quite deep resulting in her forks getting jammed in the ruts.
“I simply wasn’t strong enough to lift the bike out which cost me a lot of time,” said Gardiner who consolidated fourth position with a total time of 2hr07:25.946.
“It was one of the most technical races I have ever had. Today was all about trying to pick the good lines rather than being fast overall,” explained Gardiner who set her best lap time on the second lap with a 24min16.754.
“It went from the rain to the sunshine and even started hailing on one lap, which I simply couldn’t see out of my goggles and had to take them off.”
“Main thing is we brought home some good points for the championship which is the main thing,” added Gardiner at the conclusion of round seven.
Sunday’s sprint format saw Gardiner climbing back onto the podium with a third place overall, which was her sixth podium finish for the season.
Gardiner finished the four heats with a total time of 45min03.166 which was not as bad as the previous day, as Gardiner and her fellow competitors did not get as much as the mud which they had to endure on Saturday.
However, she openly admitted that she did not feel the best with herself, but she does know what was the issue and will work on that before the next round comes around.
“It was good to get mostly a sand track, that’s for sure,” said Gardiner.
“Hats off to Jemma and Emelie as they rode really well today. I just couldn’t match their pace today, but I’ll work on that and hopefully come out stronger at Monkerai in a few weeks’ time.”
Heading into the next round, which will take place at Monkerai in New South Wales on 13-14 August, Gardiner sits in second position in the title fight, twenty-three points behind Wilson.
“I’m looking forward to the next round of the championship. The terrain is very similar to what I’m used to. For the time being I’ll be training as hard as I can and as I said, hopefully we can pull it all together and come out stronger and pull some points back in the championship.”
Written by Russell Colvin
Images by Mad Dog Images