Cook makes history in AORC opener


James Cook made history in the 2023 AORC season-opener at the Gold City 450. Picture: DJH Creative

James Cook has made history in the opening round of the 2023 Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC).

Cook became the first SXS driver to claim an outright victory in the national-level offroad competition at the Markwell Group Gold City 450, held near Charters Towers in Queensland.

The Victorian and his navigator Mitch Aucote topped every section of the 50-kilometre course, leading the strong field of entrants at the new event to seal victory after nine laps.

“It’s amazing, it just seems surreal, still pinching myself, we can’t believe we got it done,” Cook said.

“It wasn’t easy by any means, we had to push hard all weekend, we were lucky we put the heat down on Saturday morning, got a couple of good laps in, put a nice lead on and we just chipped away from there and did what we had to do.

“The car’s not in great shape and it was making a lot of noises due to broken bits, but we got there and did what we had to do

“The win gives us a good start to the year from an outright perspective and I’ll definitely enjoy it for the moment. It’s unreal.”

While holding the outright lead, Cook reiterated that his focus remains on the SXS Pros class, which had 22 crews entered for the season-opener.

“Obviously, our main focus is the SXS class again, as we did that in 2022, so if we can do that again this year and keep the ball rolling and then that’s great,” he added.

“We finished seventh outright last season after missing round one, so we’ll take it as it comes – anything is possible.”

Joining Cook and Aucote on the podium were 2022 AORC title winners Ryan Taylor and Kye Floyd, as well as Travis Robinson and Andrew Pinto.

Nicholas Commins (Extreme 2WD), Phil Lovett (Extreme 4WD), Brian Bradford (Super 1650) and Ross Newman (SXS Sport) were the other class winners.

Round 2 of the 2023 Australia Off Road Championship will be the Pooncarie Desert Dash in New South Wales on April 21-23.

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