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FACTORY RIDE: Jess Gardiner’s Yamaha WR250F | Factory Ride

With the 2020 AORC season underway we thought we’d look back at Jess’s championship-winning bike from 2019.

What did it mean to win again?
It meant a lot. The feeling of winning never gets old and the buzz is still amazing. To make it five titles to my name, creating history by being the first Australian girl to do it in the AORC is pretty special. So much work goes into it and the rewards make all the training sessions and missing out on social events with friends worth it!

How did you view your season? Did everything go to plan or were there challenges along the way? 
I had a good season as far as racing motorcycles went, you could say it was a great season. Staying healthy is always important and I had no issues in that regard. Towards the end of the season we started racing some higher-speed Tests which, to be honest, don’t suit my riding style as much, as I like the more technical Tests, similar to the Tests in Europe. I still had a lot of fun learning in the higher-speed Tests and especially in the sand. I had to work hard in the last half of the season as the girls definitely kept me on my toes!

Tell us about your bike. What do you like most about the Yami?
The WR250F pictured is what I raced most of last season. I loved the handling and the power delivery was great for my riding as I like the bottom-end torque, without the aggressive snap. I did ride Hattah and the last AORC round on a YZ250F with a different map to make it smoother and the bottom end not so aggressive, as I find it easier to ride and less tiring.

What were some of the cool parts and bling on the 2019? 
I had the beautiful, full-titanium Akrapovic exhaust system, a GYTR clutch cover, GYTR folding brake lever, Barkbuster handguards, in pink of course to add the feminine touch, blue radiator hoses, blue rims with bronze-anodised hubs, AXP radiator braces, AXP Extreme plastic bashplate, which also protects the linkage, and AXP plastic chainguide.

How did you like the 2019 WR250F set up? 
I like to ride with a 50-tooth rear sprocket, to get the power in the spot that best suits my riding style. I run standard off-set on the Neken triple-clamps, although I like to use a lower handlebar, as I’m pretty short. I run my brake pedal a bit lower than standard, but not extremely so, with a brake snake attached to protect it from branches and stumps etc. I run a different map in the standard WR-F ECU.

What are the most important things you look for when testing? 
It’s always important to make sure the times match what you are feeling. It may feel faster but the time may be slower. I change sprockets for different race conditions and did suspension testing with Promoto at the start of the season, as usual. After that just the clickers are adjusted during the season to suit the track conditions. Most of my basic set up I have tested and developed over the years … ’grips, handlebars, seat height.

It’s been a big few years for women in motorcycling. Given your success, do you feel like an ambassador of sorts? And what areas can be improved on to increase female participation?
That’s always going to be a tricky conversation. These days there’s a lot more women-only events, from race days to coaching events, which is great. As this continues, the confidence women have in themselves will grow. Participation in state and national championships still seems to be really scary. I believe in time this will slowly change as we progressively see more girls involved. Why should the guys have all the fun!? I definitely see myself as an ambassador and always try to be the best example I can for the current and future generation of ladies and girls coming through. I am making myself more available for coaching with my Offroad Riding Institute schools, to pass on all the advice that I can.

2019 FIM ISDE Portimao, Portugal
Day 1

Outside of racing, what are some of the things you enjoy doing?
You’ll hardly ever see me sit still. I love sports in general and living an active and healthy lifestyle. Whether that be training at the gym, MTB riding, wakeboarding, water skiing, snow skiing or enjoying other adrenaline sports I can find on the way, you will find me doing something! I am also the biggest ‘tourist’, I love to see new places around the world in my travels and meet new people and learn and appreciate other cultures.

What are your plans for this year?
It is much the same. I am continuing to run the Yamaha MXstore Ballard’s Off-Road Team, which I created, with me and Jeremy Carpentier on the 2020 WR-Fs doing all the off-road races in Oz, starting with the first two rounds of the AORC in Toowoomba, Qld.
We’ll be testing Jess’s new WR250F in an upcoming issue, so stay tuned!.

Action Day6 – FIM ISDE 2019 Portim„o

1 The headstem is a bit tighter than standard to help with headshake in rocks and whoops.
2 A Scotts steering damper was fitted at the higher-speed AORC rounds like Broken Hill.
3 It runs soft-compound Neken handgrips on the Neken ’bar.
4 There is a second suspension package set up by Pro-Moto Suspension in Singleton for events that feature bulk sand, like the Hattah Desert Race.
5 The seat is lowered in the rear.