2016 and Michael Driscoll is competing on the Australian Junior Motocross Championships at Renmark, in South Australia, as part of the Yamaha Junior Racing program. His week starts off reasonably well and he places in the top five in his heats but its when the weather turns nasty and the track gets water-logged that Driscoll begins to shine.
With an on the pegs, almost text-book riding style and an ability to handle a wide range of conditions triggered a want to try off road and within 12 months of swapping his focus from motocross to off road, Driscoll had already claimed his first national championship.
“My options at the end of my junior career were limited as there were already a heap of good Yamaha riders looking to move into the MX Nationals,” Driscoll explains. “Yamaha could offer me some support in off road and as I did a lot of riding in the bush as a kid, it was something I wanted to do and see where it took me.
“The first year was a massive learning curve and I was able to lean on a lot of people to take advice from and understand the off road world. I was fortunate enough to win the EJ class (Under 19) in my first year and my off road journey had started successfully.
Driscoll backed that up with a title defence of the EJ class in 2018, with increased support from Yamaha and the Yamaha Active8 Yamalube Team. He was a member of the team that included Luke Styke and Josh Green, both of whom were happy to pass on their racing knowledge.
“I copped some flack for staying in the EJ class another year but I looked at it as I had only one year of off road racing and there was still so much I didn’t know or understand. The E1 guys at the time were a fair way ahead of me so it was in my best interest to keep learning at my pace and not be in over my head with the established pros of E1.”
The jump into the pro ranks came in 2019 where he finished a very respectable fourth place in the E1 class against some top opposition but maybe the standout moment of the year for Driscoll was his selection in the ISDE Junior Team to race the WR450F and going on to win the title alongside Australian team mates Fraser Higlett and Lyndon Snodgrass.
He was now part of a world championship winning team and his move to the bigger capacity 450cc machine suited him perfectly.
“The moment I stepped onto the WR450F, I felt instantly at home. You don’t have to rev the bike as hard or ride it as aggressively and it just suits my style and mentality better.”
The momentum has continued into the 2020 season and again with Yamaha support, Driscoll has made the next step up in his career and into the premier E1 class on the WR450F. With three rounds of the AORC completed before COVID-19 struck, Driscoll sat in fourth place, just two points from second. The riders above him are world experienced and world class, with Daniel Milner, Green and Todd Waters all within striking distance of the talented 21 year old, New South Welshmen.
“Michael has come along way since changing over to off road just a few seasons ago,” comments team manager and former AORC champ, AJ Roberts. “In a short time, he has racked up two national championships, a world junior teams’ championships and now races against some the best off road riders in the world at every round of the AORC and holds his own.
“He has formed a good relationship with Josh Green and Greeny has been great at working with him and passing on knowledge, not just about riding but also training off the bike and how to prepare,” AJ ends.
With restrictions easing, there is hope for the AORC to get back underway in the coming months and Driscoll is determined to pick up where he left off and continue his steep climb up the off road ranks.
“To race with riders like Milner, Green and Waters is amazing but now I have to shift my focus and not be over whelmed by their names and just try and beat them. I continued to work hard during the break in racing and I want to show I have improved when things get up and going again.
“I’m loving riding at the moment and the opportunities racing is giving me. The last few years have flown by pretty quick and I want the next few years to be as exciting as my first in off road,” Driscoll signs off.