Jess Gardiner and Danielle McDonald have made it back to back AORC championships after both won their respective classes at the final round of 2023 competition in Dungog, over the weekend.Both ladies entered the final weekend of racing in the AORC with a comfortable points gap over their rivals and needed nothing more than a safe and consistent weekend to retain both of the championships.
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There is no doubt Jess Gardiner is the queen of off-road racing in Australia. Already with a handful of AORC crowns to her name, Gardner racked up another won on the weekend with a typical gritty performance.
Despite just returning from Europe, dealing with hot and dry conditions and the pressure of another championship in sight, Gardiner did what Gardiner does, and won. She won both Saturday and Sunday to claim the 2023 EW (Women’s) championship. In fact, she had amassed enough points at the completion of racing on Saturday, but that didn’t stop her from again going full send on Sunday and taking another class win.
“What a year 2023 has been,” she expressed. “Between racing here in Australia, racing in Europe, running coaching schools and keeping the team organised, it’s been a huge year and one that has been extremely rewarding.
“After the ISDE last year, I wanted to return to contest the world enduro, but I didn’t want it to affect what happens in Australia. Fortunately, the calendar worked out and I was able to do both and to finish where I have is something I’m proud of.
“The year isn’t over, and we head to the 2023 ISDE in a week or so, but I can’t do what I’m doing with so many people behind me. Thank you to Yamaha and all our team sponsors, my partner Jeremy for all the effort he puts into my racing as well as Josh our weekend mechanic who has to deal with all of us on race weekend,” Gardiner ends.
Danielle McDonald has also had a season to remember, chalking up results on a weekly basis that are nothing short of stunning. She races motocross and wins, she races off road and wins, she races desert and wins. And now in her final recent in junior competition, she won again.
She was a cut above all her rivals throughout the season and had built up enough points to secure the JG (Junior Girls) championship at the end of racing on Saturday. With the title already in her gear bag and a nagging knee injury that screamed out for a rest, McDonald sat out Sunday.
“I would love to have raced today but we felt it was best to not risk further injury as we have plenty of races to come before the end of the season,” McDonald outlines. “This year has been good to me and my results have been great.
“It was a learning curve for me to step up and ride a 250 four stroke after racing a 125 for the last couple of seasons, but I have enjoyed it and feel I’m getting better each time I ride it.
“ Thank you to Jess and Jeremy for all the help and guidance over the years and having them in my corner is a great advantage I have. I can talk to them about everything from my bike set up to conditions on the trail and they are there for me. My family also play a huge role and are a huge part of my success.”
Jeremy Carpentier finished the year with his best performance with 6-4 results in the premier E2 (450cc) class. He adapted to the dry conditions quickly and on Sunday raced well to be within a couple of seconds of snaring a season high podium finish.
He rounded the season out in seventh place in class, despite starting the year behind the eight ball as he recovered from a wrist injury.
“It was good to finish the final weekend with some good results and ride as well as I had at any other time of year. I like the enduro format and although it was dusty, at least vision was ok and we were able to race at good speed.
“I missed the first four rounds and feel like I’m just getting up to speed now. I wish the season would keep going,” he said.