2017 CAMS Australian Off Road Championship
St George - Apr 29-30    |    Finke - June 9-11    |    Rainbow - August 4-6                  

2017 ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series
Griffith - March 17-19     |     Mildura - April 21-23     |     Sea Lake - June 9-11     |     Waikerie - July 21-23     |     Goondiwindi - Aug 18-20     |     Millicent - Sept 22-23

Perfect Debut Season for Justin Chisholm
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Thursday, 02 November 2017
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Source: Toby Cooper

As Justin Chisholm, family and crew set off down the Putty Road from their Moorebank base in mid April on route to Round 1 of the CAMS New South Wales Off Road Championship at Colo Park with their #6628 Yamaha UTV in tow, it was hard to imagine five months later their maiden Championship assault in off road would be so successful.

From an early age Chisholm enjoyed racing different types of motorbikes before trying his hand at MX, Enduros, Flat track and Road Racing as his passion for motorsports grew. Chisholm, who currently owns Trooper Lu’s Garage in Sydney, had always endeavoured to explore the off road scene, though waited patiently for his opportunity; this finally arrived when Yamaha released the YXZ 1000r UTV to the market.

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Knowing the ins and outs of the new product came easier for Chisholm who controls a Yamaha dealership which includes an association with Weller Racing products out of Arizona; they live, breathe and race Yamaha’s all over the U.S. so there knowledge is second to none. The early perception was that the UTV featuring a 5 speed sequential, Fox unit shocks and a 1000cc three cylinder naturally aspirated engine could hold its own against arguably the harshest terrain in motorsport in Australia.

Heading into the season opener at Colo Park, Chisholm who had a personal goal for the championship to finish every event was optimistic about his chances at his home track after success at the first two club rounds. Straight out of the box, Chisholm with wife Simone navigating, wasted no time settling their nerves, prologuing fourth before placing the Superlite A machine into eighth outright at the completion of day one. As the sun beamed down on the SORRA Motorsport Complex on Sunday, the dust began to rise as the rough sand based Colo track began to take casualties. Chisholm however, found the ruts to his liking, crossing for a class win and sixth outright – the result aside it was all smiles for Chisholm who was super excited that the setup of the UTV aided by Yamaha experts from Weller Racing in the USA had passed another test.

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Onwards and upwards for Chisholm and his crew who made the trek to Kempsey for Round 2, the Dondingalong Challenge in May. As the heavens opened up on Saturday conditions were touted to suit the Superlites, Chisholm and navigator Brenden Williamson handled the pressure and consolidated on their early season form prologuing sixth from a strong 36 car field. Looking to improve his outright position race to race, Chisholm was setting the bar high, the muddy conditions proving no issues for the Yamaha as they saluted the checkered flag Sunday afternoon for back to back class wins and fifth outright.

August rolled around and the YXZ was loaded, set to return to the renowned Milbrodale Mountain Classic where Chisholm’s off road dream became reality 12 months prior. With great memories of the event, loads of driving time on an exciting diverse track, and emotions running high as 70 crews from across the state converged to the Hunter Valley location for Round 3 of the championship – it was game on! After a promising opening to the event, Chisholm was well entrenched in the top 20 after day one. Unfortunately bad luck struck the #6628 during the short course heat on Sunday when a split pin come out of the axle nut causing the wheel to roll on by whilst in the process of overtaking a parked car. Chisholm remained calm and managed to control the moment to savour a respectable outcome finishing the brutally tough and dusty Milbrodale long course second in class and 29th outright.

In late August, Wittitrin played host to Round 4 – the first experience of the long course event was an interesting challenge for the team. The Yamaha, which excelled in the tight sections, had to overcome the long fast straights, creek crossings and major dust which played a huge factor, particular on day one. Chisholm and navigator Angela Hoffman failed to complete their prologue run, though were able to drive the Superlite A machine home in 13th at Saturday’s end, and with 170km’s ahead of them on Sunday it had only just begun. Setting the fourth fastest section time in the first heat on day two, Chisholm had made his move – as conditions deteriorated on track it was all about greeting the checkered flag, which they achieved in a spirited sixth outright. Their fourth class win all but wrapped up, the NSW Superlite A title with a further two rounds remaining, though the Trooper Lu’s Garage team were still well within reach of outright glory.

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A stoked Chisholm was ecstatic post race with his season to date, “Another great result for our team here at Wittitrin, it was really tough out there, I did not expect to get the pace out of our little machine but we are stoked. The Arisun Kevlar Lined tyres need a special mention they were outstanding today – no signs of a flat and man did they take a battering”.

Next stop on the Trooper Lu roadshow was the Warialda 200, said by many to be one of the greatest races in Australia – with the class title in the bag, pressure was on as Chisholm who entered the round fourth in the outright battle. The Yamaha got proceedings underway Saturday morning as the first car off the line for prologue resulted in a 43rd placing, after the two short course heats they managed to improve to 39th by the completion of the day. A trouble free run in Sunday’s opener positioned Chisholm in 35th heading into the demanding long course which presented a variety of challenges for the team. A 20th in heat 1 before finishing the final three laps in 16th saw the crew cross 14th outright, it was hard to wipe the smile of the face of Chisholm who was wrapped with his Warialda debut “a gallant effort by all who helped us this weekend – a great result on a really enjoyable track, we continue to surprise ourselves”.

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A terrific season would come to a close on the last weekend of October, where Chisholm remained a long shot for the CAMS New South Wales Off Road Championship – though after the season to date, it was hard to write off the 2017 Superlite A State Champion. Nabiac once again proved to be a wrecking ball with fewer than 25% of cars completing full race distance, the whoops so deep the nudge bar on the Yamaha were hitting the next one – it was an eye opening experience for Chisholm, one he patiently respected. Once again the durability of the Yamaha in extreme conditions passed the test, it makes life so much easier for the team when all that is required in between races is grease, new oil and filters. In a year full of surprising results, challenges, good people and enjoyment, the Trooper Lu’s Garage beast defended off Nabiac, closing out 2017 sixth outright and first in class.

With the Nabiac result, Chisholm in a maiden championship assault claimed the CAMS New South Wales Off Road Championship Superlite silverware as well as securing equal third alongside Scott Muma #1020 in the battle for outright honours, behind Glen Hoffman #18 and Scott Brown #211.

To top off a cracking season, Chisholm was handed the Len Barron Memorial Trophy at Nabiac by the Barron family. The Len Barron Memorial Trophy showcases the importance of family values which is promoted across all the clubs and event. Family is a major factor into why Chisholm has become so attracted to the sport, as all the family can be involved. A challenge for Chisholm moving forward is learning the art of keeping the race face on in the midst of meeting so many great new people within the off road fraternity, who will not hesitate to lend a hand or advice.

Trooper Lu’s Garage could not go racing without the continued support of many sponsors who provide their services and products, including B and B Off-Road Engineering who assisted in the development of the roll cage and protection for the YXZ, Hardiman Off-road for their expertise on suspension, Weller Racing who continue to be the best in the business transferring their knowledge to the workshop in Oz, Tire Blocks for the mega tough Arisun tyres, Rugged Radios for great advice on communication setups and finally to Yamaha Australia who have supported and invested in the off-road project from the original idea.

If 2017 was the year of gauging tracks, understanding car performance and logistics of campaigning a full NSW Championship, the sky is the limit for Chisholm and his crew next season. The early indication is that Chisholm will be back for another crack at the championship in 2018, after a new sticker set and full service, the YZX will have its maximum resilience tested once again. Exciting times ahead for the Trooper Lu’s team who are out to see how far the Yamaha can be pushed!