The 2018 Australian Speedway 500cc Solo Motorcycle Championship will go down to the wire at Adelaide’s Gillman Speedway on SUNDAY night (14 January) after a dramatic turn of events in round three in Mildura on Friday night sees Rohan Tungate and Brady Kurtz equal on points going into the final round.
This season’s form rider, Rohan Tungate, held an eight point lead over 2016 champion Brady Kurtz after the first two rounds, and after three rides at Mildura the lead was still six points but while Kurtz won his final two heat rides to finish with a 15 point maximum, Tungate was only able to score 1 point from his last two rides.
With only 8 heat points, Tungate was fortunate to scrape into the last semi-final berth on a countback of heat placings ahead of Josh Pickering and Jye Etheridge, but the heat was on him to win the semi-final or surrender the championship lead to Kurtz.
Having never been a finalist (in Australian Championship rounds) at Mildura, and riding against Mason Campton and Max Fricke who had both beaten him in the heats, the odds were against Tungate, but he pulled out a massive ride when it was needed most to lead home Fricke, Campton and Jordan Stewart.
The line-up for the final was the unbeaten Kurtz, defending champion Sam Masters (13 points), Jack Holder (also 13) and Tungate.
In a surprise result it was Holder who led all the way to take the win ahead of Kurtz, Tungate and Masters which left Tungate and Kurtz equal on 45 points, with Max Fricke 38, Sam Masters 37 and Jack Holder 36 in a close contest for overall third.
Although Kurtz showed on Friday night, it is possible to wipe out an 8 point deficit, Kurtz only had to reel in one rider, whereas Fricke, Masters and Holder will need both Tungate and Kurtz to drop a lot of points and it is unlikely both will fail, so the title appears to be a shoot-out between Tungate and Kurtz and both have previously won championship rounds at Gillman.
Tungate won the Gillman round in 2014 but, perhaps more tellingly, he has been in the first three in four of his six appearances and in the other two rounds he finished fifth (second in the semi-final), so he has a very good record at Gillman. His two fifth placings were in his first appearance in the championship, in 2012, where he quickly became a crowd favourite with his full throttle, never-give-in riding; and last season when he rode injured after a heavy crash in his first ride.
Kurtz has only ridden in two rounds at Gillman and although he had a poor meeting last season and only scored 5 points, he won the final in 2016 – leading home Tungate in the final, so it is even money who can come out on top at Gillman.
Although Fricke, Masters and Holder are unlikely to win the championship there is still everything to play for if they have World Championship aspirations.
Australia has four places in the World Championship (Grand Prix) qualifying rounds and only the first two in the Australian Championship are guaranteed a place. The other two places are chosen by the Motorcycling Australia Speedway Commission, in conjunction with MA, so third and fourth are not guaranteed a place, but unless a star rider has missed the national championship because of injury or other mitigating circumstances, the selectors more often than not reward the riders who have supported their national championship so a podium finish is very important.
The Championship points going into the final round are: Rohan Tungate 45, Brady Kurtz 45, Max Fricke 38, Sam Masters 37, Jack Holder 36, Mason Campton 30, Josh Pickering 28, Jordan Stewart 25, Jaimon Lidsey 21, Jye Etheridge 21, Matthew Gilmore 16, Cooper Riordan 14, Robert Medson 12, Joel Coyne 8, Declan Knowles 8, James Davies 4.
Some of Australia’s leading Sidecar riders will also compete at Gillman on Sunday night, including current Australian Champions Trent Headland/Darryl Whetstone, current Australia #2 Andrew Buchanan/Denny Cox, former Australian Champion Mark Mitchell/Dale Knights, Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin and Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear.
Top photo: Current series leaders Rohan Tungate (left) and Brady Kurtz pictured after the final of the 2016 Gillman round. Photo: Judy Mackay.
Bottom photo: Rohan Tungate (yellow), Brady Kurtz (blue) and Max Fricke (white) in the 2016 Gillman round. Photo: Judy Mackay.
Everything you need to know:
Meeting Date: Sunday night, 14 January 2018
Venue: Gillman Speedway Stadium, 65 Wilkins Road, Gillman – near the Port Adelaide area.
Gates open: 3 pm. Entry via Western and Eastern gates. Off-street parking areas near both gates.
Racing starts: 7.30 pm. Free spectator access to the pits between the finish of practice and the riders’ briefing, approx. 5pm to 6.30pm.
Riders (alphabetical order): Mason Campton (NSW), Joel Coyne (Qld), James Davies (Vic), Jye Etheridge (NSW), Max Fricke (Vic), Matthew Gilmore (NSW), Jack Holder (NSW), Declan Knowles (Vic), Brady Kurtz (NSW), Jaimon Lidsey (Vic), Sam Masters (NSW-defending champion), Robert Medson (SA), Josh Pickering (NSW), Cooper Riordan (Vic), Jordan Stewart (Vic), Rohan Tungate (NSW). Reserves: Josh Coyne (Qld), Brayden McGuinness (SA).
Format: 16 riders x 20 heats plus a last chance semi-final and a final. The 4th to 7th highest scorers go into the semi-final; and the winner of the semi-final and the highest three scorers from the 20 heats go into the final.
Sidecars: Australia 1 Trent Headland/Darryl Whetstone (SA), Australia 2 Andrew Buchanan/Denny Cox (NZ/NSW), Mark Mitchell/Dale Knights (SA), Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin (NSW), Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear (SA).
Australian Solo Championship Round 4 Sponsor CBS Bins : CBS Bins is a family owned and operated businesses which commenced in 1975 when Graham and Marion Baker started in business with the purchase of a model 610 Bobcat. As the years progressed they were joined by their sons Steven, Mark and Darren, and today CBS Bins has grown into one of South Australia’s leading waste and rubbish removal companies. Sadly Graham passed away in January 2013, but his family continue to support Gillman Speedway and Graham’s past support has been remembered by the western end terraced area being named The Graham Baker Terrace. Website [www.cbsbins.com.au]
Admission prices: Adults $30, Pension and Student Concession $25 (*), Children aged 12-15 $10, Under 12 FREE, Family Tickets $70. Car Parking free. Souvenir programme $5.
(*) Concession is limited to holders of the Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card and Student Concession card holders only. A family ticket covers 2 adults and children under 16.
Programmes: The souvenir programme includes colour action and portrait photographs of the 16 riders and a detailed history of the Championship going back to the 1920s.
Seating: Grandstand seating, large grassed viewing mounds and terracing suitable for deck chairs.
VIP Area: The V.I.P. area is available to anyone who would like to treat their business colleagues, family or friends to the best view of motorcycle speedway action in Australia. Spectators can enjoy the elevated view overlooking the track, either from inside the temperature controlled room, on the timber decks, or the enclosed lawn area, for a very reasonable price per person. A fully stocked bar and a variety of food to suit all budgets is available and you can book the whole room or part thereof. Ring Gillman Speedway Manager David Parker on 0403 364 658 or e-mail email@example.com for more details.
Food and drink: Full bar and catering available. Food includes hot chips, hamburgers, chicken burgers, pies, pasties, sausage rolls, Chiko Rolls, dim sims, hot dogs, doughnuts, coffee, cold drinks, sweets. “Gillman has far and away the best speedway tucker” [Peter White’s Speedway World]
Bar facilities are available but please note a condition of our liquor licence is no byo alcohol or glass can be brought into the venue. Security will check at the gate.
Pets: No pets, other than guide dogs, are allowed into the venue.
Souvenirs: There is a well-stocked souvenir shop. Eftpos available in the souvenir shop. Souvenirs can also be purchased online (see the Shop tab on the Gillman Speedway website).
Weather Forecast (as at 13/1/18): Maximum 25, minimum 14. Sunny afternoon. [www.bom.gov.au/sa/forecasts/Adelaide]
The best way to get to Gillman Speedway is off Hanson Road.
If you are coming from the eastern and southern suburbs, get on to Hanson road off Torrens Road or Grand Junction Road, travel north on Hanson road over the train line then take the first road on the left, which is Wilkins road.
From the northern suburbs, travel down the new Port Adelaide expressway and take the Hanson Road exit. Once on Hanson Road, take the first exit on your right, this is Wilkins road.
From the western suburbs, Wilkins Road is the continuation of Bedford Street, north of Eastern Parade.
For interstate visitors flying into Adelaide and getting a hire car, Gillman is about 20kms, and 30 minutes’ drive (depending on traffic lights) from the airport.
The easiest and most direct way from the airport, if not going to your accommodation first is:
On leaving the airport, turn left onto Sir Donald Bradman Drive. Continue along Sir Donald Bradman Drive until you reach the end of the airport grounds and turn right onto Tapleys Hill Road. Once you are on Tapleys Hill Road you can’t really go wrong. You only have to make three or four turns and most of those are simple. Just keep going on Tapleys Hill Road until you can’t go any further. That’s Port Road. Turn left onto Port Road (you can only turn left, so pretty easy to this point). Continue down Port Road for about 1 km to the first intersection which is Grand Junction road and turn right. You only go 700 metres along Grand Junction Road over a bridge over a railway line. Stay in the left lane because at the bottom of the bridge you turn left into Gray Terrace. Go to the end of Gray Terrace and turn right (you can’t go straight ahead) onto Bedford Street. Just keep going on that road until you get to the speedway. About 2 kms.
Accommodation: There is plenty of accommodation in Adelaide and suburbs, within 20-30 minutes of the Speedway, ranging from five star hotels to caravan parks and backpacker hostels. The Pavlos Motel on Main North Road, Pooraka offers a discount to speedway fans but you must ring the motel direct and ask for the Gillman Speedway discount. Full details are on the Gillman website under the information/accommodation tab.
Live results: download the MYLAPS Speedhive app to your phone or tablet. Free to view. Gillman programme also available to download from the Gillman Speedway website (under the Shop tab) for $5.50 payable by credit card or PayPal.
Contact for this meeting: Speedway Manager, David Parker 0403 364 658