The final line-up for tonight’s 2017 Nankang Tyres Australian Sidecar Championship has been decided after an entertaining night’s racing at Gillman Speedway last night.
The Qualifying meeting was the ideal meeting for supporters with close and exciting racing plus a wide spread of points amongst the riders which meant the qualifiers were not decided until after the final heat, and even then a countback was required to decide the seventh and eighth places.
While the majority of the riders were in a tight tussle for the eight qualifying places, one rider – Andrew Buchanan, passenger Denny Cox – dominated and won the meeting with a largely unchallenged 15 point maximum score.
Second, on 12 points, was Mark Mitchell/Sam Harrison. Mitchell blew an engine in the World Cup the previous weekend and had to fit a new engine for the qualifying meeting.
Third and fourth went to two more local riders, Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear and Mark Plaisted/Ben Pitt, with 11 points, and fifth went to Dave Bottrell/Chris Bottrell, who overcame a retirement in their second race to finish with 10 points.
Sixth was Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr with 8 points, then there were three riders tied on 7 points for the final two places.
The countback went to Grant Bond/Glenn Cox ahead of Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris and Neale Hancock/Brendon Johnson.
The hard luck stories of the night were Hancock/Johnson and Hamish Golding/Bayley Ogilvie (6 points).
Hancock was excluded from his third ride, after he tangled with Dean Hobbs/Justin Richards and Kym Menadue/Eric Melton. It was a decision which Hancock unsuccessfully argued against, and which divided the spectators in that turn as to who was at fault, and ultimately the points he most likely would have scored in the heat cost him a qualifying berth.
Hamish Golding was even unluckier. He was on six points going into his last ride and, after Kym Menadue/Eric Melton retired at the start, only had to finish the race to go through on countback on 7 points, but his bike broke down while he was running in second place. That left him on 6 points, one short of a qualifying place but also down in eleventh place after a countback with Hayden Bond/Brady Cox (10th) and Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin (12th).
Hayden Bond, like Golding, was in a qualifying position in the early laps of his last ride, but was deprived of the third place point he needed, by Byren Gates.
Qualifiers: Andrew Buchanan/Denny Cox 15, Mark Mitchell/Sam Harrison 12, Damen Niesche/Mitchell Spear 11, Mark Plaisted/Ben Pitt 11, David Bottrell/Christopher Bottrell 10, Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr 8, Grant Bond/Glenn Cox 7, Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris 7.
Non-Qualifiers: Neale Hancock/Brendan Johnson 7, Hayden Bond/Brady Cox 6, Hamish Golding/Bayley Ogilvie 6, Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin 6, Clint Mayes/Sean Coleby 5, Dean Hobbs/Justin Richards 3, Kym Menadue/Eric Melton 2, Daniel Puddy/Luke Puddy 1, Tim Bichard/Brenton Marsh (reserve) 2.
Championship line-up, Gillman Speedway, 7.30pm, Sunday 16 April.
Trent Headland/Darryl Whetstone, Rick Howse/Adam Commons, Darrin Treloar/Blake Cox, Warren Monson/Andrew Summerhayes, Arron Hartwig/Teagan Hartwig, Brodie Cohen/Damian Egan, Russell Mitchell/Andy Gajek, Tyler Moon/Adam Lovell, plus the Qualifiers Andrew Buchanan/Denny Cox, Mark Mitchell/Sam Harrison, Damen Niesche/Mitchell Spear, Mark Plaisted/Ben Pitt, David Bottrell/Christopher Bottrell, Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr, Grant Bond/Glenn Cox, Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris.