Ballards at Green Park on the podium
Yamaha Racing’s top-ranked off road specialists continued their quest for the Yamaha Australian Off Road Championship at Conondale’s Green Park this weekend, excelling across a number of challenging special tests to take home more valuable championship points. The track, situated in the hinterland beyond Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, was modified specifically for the meet, with riders also contending with river crossings, rock boulders, tree roots, steep descents and thick bush sections.
The Ballard’s Pro Enduro trio was in fine form, with all three riders standing atop the podium throughout the gruelling two day showdown which comprised rounds 7 and 8 of the Yamaha Australian Off Road Series.
The story of the weekend was undoubtedly their united run home on Sunday, with Jarrod Bewley, Shannon Lewry and Chris Hollis finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively in the outright standings for round 8. All three riders made a final charge at the leader in the last heat, easily going under eventual winner AJ Roberts’ time.
Bewley proved absolutely unstoppable all weekend, and comfortably claimed victory across both days in the E3 class.On Saturday, he stopped the clocks with a 44 second lead over second place, and found something extra again on Sunday to win by over a minute.He has now won an astounding 8 consecutive rounds in a row in this year’s championship and is on target to wrap up proceedings in E3 across the next few rounds.”It was a good weekend, pretty tough, but a well-designed track and made for some really close racing,” said Bewley.
“I came into rounds 7 and 8 with the plan to just keep on doing what I’ve been doing, get my head down and keep laying down quick times, the bike’s been amazing all season long.” A fantastic performance also came from Shannon Lewry, who, after finishing 4th in round 7 (Saturday), dug deep and made back 2 positions to be hunting down the E2 class leader at the end of the day, finishing just over 30 seconds behind.
Buoyed by a great result at the NSW Sprint Series prior to the Conondale clash, Lewry pushed hard from the outset of the weekend, and was rewarded for his efforts.”Yeah I am really pleased with this result, it’s good to take a podium finish and improve my outright standings, it’s been an up and down season so far so to string together these good finishes this weekend is a good reward,” said Lewry.
“The conditions and obstacles here will have been good practice for the A4DE which everyone looks forward to!”
Chris Hollis was also on the pace early, setting out with an early lead but relinquishing it to Ben Grabham in the last few heats on Saturday to finish 2nd for round 7.Not content with the result, he blasted back into form on Sunday, this time beating Ben Kearney to stop the clock over 20 seconds in front.
At the conclusion of a fast-paced and challenging weekend, he maintains a strong second in the outright standings, 18 points ahead of third. “It was a pretty solid weekend for myself, with the aim being to maintain my lead and chip away at AJ in the outright standings,” explained Hollis.”I got away quickly on Saturday but dropped a few heats at the end to lose out to Ben, it was good to bounce back strong on Sunday and take the win.”
It was business as usual for Alison Parker, the leading contender in the Women’s class, winning both days easily and joining Bewley and Team Principal Geoff Ballard as one of the team’s three riders to have won every single round in 2007. Typifying Parker’s performance was her overall timed lead on Sunday afternoon, which was in excess of 6 minutes.
Geoff Ballard was also on the pace as the event reached its conclusion, and he managed to win round 8 by over 2 minutes.Jason Cater, usually very competitive in his own class, was not present for the team this weekend, sidelined with injury which disappointingly cuts his title chances in Expert Veterans.
Josh Ballard was on fire in the competitive battle for Expert E2 honours, avenging a third place on Saturday for round 7 with a win on Sunday by over 18 seconds.
The team will look to continue its podium run at the next round, but is now knuckling down to prepare for the season’s greatest test, the Australian 4 Day Enduro event.