Moto Media
James Stewart

AORC: Merriman on form but reigning Champ out of gas

Round one of the 2011 Yamaha Australian Off Road Championship is done and dusted with multiple World Championship winner and Ballard's Yamaha Off Road Team's, Stefan Merriman, returning to stunning form to take line honours ahead of teammate Chris Hollis and Motorex KTM Off Road Team's Jarrod Bewley.

The gruelling three hour Cross Country format saw the course take many prisoners including reigning Champ and Motorex KTM rider Toby Price – who after missing two fuel stops, was left running on empty whilst in the lead.

Husqvarna's Glen Kearney also fell foul of the track, suffering mechanical problems - marring his return to the Australian Championship after years competing in the US.

Nearly 300 competitors took to the course throughout the first round, pushing through 30+ degree heat and dry conditions in the combined National and State Championship rounds.

E1 Class: In the E1 Class, Merriman was the clear winner, with KTM's Ben Grabham and Yamaha's Kirk Hutton rounding out the top three places.

E2 Class: Hollis took out the E2 Class ahead of Polish import Bartosz Oblucki riding for Husqvarna and Geoff Braico (Husaberg).

E3 Class: Bewley was first across the line for the E3 Class, followed by Yamaha's Matt Phillips and Husqvarna's Matt Ryan, both of whom have made the switch from Motocross in 2011.

Masters Class: In the Masters Class, Team Boss Geoff Ballard took the top spot with David Cash (Yamaha) and Trent Lean (Suzuki) rounding out the top three.

Veterans: Garry Dukes (Husaberg) took out the first round of the Veterans ahead of Mark Woolley (Yamaha) and Anthony Smidt (KTM).

Women's Championship Class: Sweden's Emelie Karlsson (Yamaha) took line honours in the Women's, ahead of Jemma Wilson (Yamaha) and Tanya Hearne (KTM) – while reigning Champ and Yamaha rider Jess Gardiner suffered bike problems and failed to finish.

Round two of the Championship kicks into gear on Sunday featuring the action-packed Sprint Format. Full results, including Junior Championship classes, from the first round of racing can be found on the Series website at