Coonawarra hosts Australian Off road Championships

OVER 200 motorcycle racers and their support crews made their way to Coonawarra for rounds seven and eight of the Australian Off road Championships. 

Friday was set up day with teams organising their entries and riders qualifying their machinery and inspecting the race tracks for the weekend's competition. 

Rain was the order of the day but on the sandy terrain there was little or no effect on the course or the venue in the pristine forestry country close to the Victorian border 20km east of Penola.

The atmosphere is intense at these competitions with factory teams investing heavily in professional riders and world class machinery in an effort to establish their brands and show some real value to sponsorship dollars in the sport. 

Alongside the professionals are privately and personally backed competitors, intent on measuring their performance against the best in the business.

Most of the local riders are involved in establishing this event and had a hand in the design and building of the course for the competition. 

Naracoorte Motorcycle Club was contracted to build the course on the property managed by New Forests Timberland Pacific who should be commended for their support of the Australian Off Road Championship series, now in its second year at the property and openly touted as the year's best event by a growing number of competitors who make the trek to Coonawarra. 

The course also spilled into private property owned by the Coonawarra Store proprietors Bruce and Marcy Gregory, past motocross champions and long time supporters of Off Road Racing.

Two full days of competition with 200 riders has an impact on tracks, bikes and bodies. 

Spectators are greeted by a course of technical and awe inspiring terrain in every direction as riders race against the clock throughout the day.

Speed, endurance and outright ability ultimately decides on a winner and this year Daniel Milner from Victoria, still in recovery from a broken, leg defied all those in doubt that this weekend he is the fastest in the country. 

Toby Price was hot off an impressive win in the Finke desert race and battled with Milner all day, in the end only seconds separated the two riders. 

A couple of big crashes from Price may ultimately have sealed the difference between the two. 

Track designer and Naracoorte rider Adrian Fitzgerald ensured the course provided a technical challenge for the riders and any mistakes had harsh consequences. 

Price was not the only rider to crash but in a competition where every second lost will cost results he payed heavily for mistakes. 

Glen Kearney finished out the podium. 

Glen is a small guy in stature but spectacular on a race bike, solid reliable performances on both days culminated in his third place national result.

The SA Off Road Championships combines with the national competition on this weekend of racing. 

Ivan Long from Coonalpyn and Todd Barry from Adelaide are the best in SA at the moment and traded results at this event with Ivan taking top honours for the South Australians on Saturday and Todd taking the top step Sunday. 

It has been a long time since Ivan has been bested in the SA competition and this result has pushed both riders into the top 25 in the country.

Among the local riders Luke Bunnik topped both days as the fastest Off Roader in the SE East representation.

Not far behind, Mount Gambier riders Anthony Green and Michael Widdison are continuing their local dominance of the senior end of the competition. 

Both are seasoned riders regularly in the top 20 in the State scene, placing in the 50s on the national platform is impressive when you understand the distance and investment required to compete at that level.

All results from the event are posted on the Motorcycling Australia website. 

Wattle Range Council provided support and logistics and local clubs and individuals donated their time and services to make sure everyone left with a great impression of yet another jewel in the crown for SE events of the highest calibre.