It has been a busy couple of weeks recently for Yamaha supported Australian riders as they competed in a range of events on the world stage. Jess Gardiner, Charli Cannon and Jay Wilson have all flown the Australian and Yamaha flags at different events around the world and with considerable success.
Jay Wilson made his debut in the IA1 (450cc) class a memorable one at the opening round of the 2023 Japanese Motocross Championship taking his YZ450F to a perfect three wins from three starts to kick off his campaign in stunning fashion.
Wilson, the 2022 250cc Japanese Champion, made the move to the 450 class for 2023 with the newly formed Yamaha Factory Innovation Team and has adapted well to the new YZ450F. Despite a mishap in the early free practice session, Wilson went on to win his qualifying race and then pieced together three impressive motos to take the round one victory.
It’s the perfect start for Wilson and his team and with plenty of rounds to come, he expects the competition to step up in the coming rounds.
“The weekend went well and to be honest, I’m a little surprised by the results,” Wilson said. “Throughout the pre-season and in testing, my Yamaha teammates have shown they have plenty of speed and have often been faster than me, so to dominate the opening round was not expected.
“The first two races I was able to pull a couple of holeshots and put in a sprint to get a gap that I could maintain to the end, but in the last race my start wasn’t great and I had to hustle early to get to the front.
“Thanks to everyone at Yamaha and it’s awesome to see the YZ450F in such a strong position so many championships around the world.”
Jess Gardiner decided her world championship itch needed to be scratched and for 2023 has put together a deal to compete in the Women’s World Off Road Championships, with the opening round contested last week in San Remo, Italy.
Aboard a WR250F, Gardiner started the weekend in good fashion taking a fourth in the Supertest qualifier, giving her the confidence she still has the skills on the world stage.
She translated that good qualifying result into an outstanding result on day 1 to finish in second place in the Women’s category. She started slowly and even crashed in the first special test, but quickly regained composure and her rhythm to charge back into contention and finish the day in second place.
Day 2 and on the same fast, rocky, dusty trails and tests, Gardiner proved the opening day was no fluke, as she again raced her way to the podium, this time with a third place finish. Her combined 2-3 results see her leave the opening weekend in second place, and inspired to head back for more.
“I came into the weekend excited to be back racing at the world championships but a little unsure as to what to expect as it had been more then a few years since I raced a world championship round and you never know the level of the women racing,” Jess explained.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to get a decent result in the Supertest and felt that a podium was in reach if I kept fighting all day and rode well. To get on the podium both days is awesome and I’m super proud to get that result and represent so many people who have helped me to make this happen.
“I’m back in Australia now but will head back to Europe for the next rounds after the QMP rounds of the AORC,” Gardiner said.
The past weekend also marked the end of Charli Cannon’s first trip to Europe in 2023, for the opening two rounds of the Women’s World Motocross Championship. With rounds held in Italy and Switzerland two weeks apart, Cannon stayed with her JK Racing Yamaha Team after the Italian round and raced a local event to keep her skills sharp.
After a solid seventh place finish at the opening round, Cannon headed to Switzerland hoping to improve as she grows comfortable racing in Europe. The hard pack, rut filled Swiss track was a complete contrast to the sandy Italian circuit of round one.
Charli started the weekend off the pace and posted the ninth fastest lap in qualifying, but when the gates fell, she rocketed into the first turn inside the top five and in a battle to move into the top three. As the race progressed, she was able to lock down fourth place and begin to move away from the pack behind her. It was a lonely ride as the first three had broken clear, but Cannon was able to maintain a consistently good place to nail her best moto result in fourth.
Race two and her start wasn’t as good and she was battling for position in the top 10 on the opening lap. She was able to make a couple of passes and move into eighth but try as she might, she couldn’t find her way into seventh despite shadowing her opponent for the best part of 15 minutes.
Her 4-8 results gave her fifth for the round, an improvement on round one and she now sits in fifth place in the championship after two rounds and is also the leading Yamaha rider.
“Its been two really different rounds for me, one in the sand and this one on hard pack clay, and I have learned a lot from each one,” said Charli. “The women here are really fast and I need to be at my best every lap to be able to stay with the lead group. My start in race one was good and I was able to watch the pace of the front girls.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t gate as well in race two and was stuck a fair way back and struggling to move forward.
“But to be top five in both the round and the championship is a good step forward and where I need to be. There are plenty of things I need to work on before I come back so I will get to work when I get home and keep trying to push my way to the front,” Charli continued.
“Thank you to everyone on the JK Racing Yamaha team, Yamaha Australia and my team at home as well as so many people that support me. My next trip is for the rounds in France and Spain in a month’s time and I look forward to making more progress.”