As predicted 20-year-old British rider Dan Bewley won the National Karate South Australian Solo Championship at Gillman Speedway on Saturday night (7 December).
Bewley, who has become something of a favourite with the crowds during his month in Australia with his exciting high-speed outside passes, was a class above the opposition and won all of his races with ease apart from his final heat in which he didn’t need to score any points to still get first choice of gate in the final and was beaten by his Australian host Justin Sedgmen.
The win put Sedgmen, the only former champion in the line-up, into the final with 12 points, and the other direct qualifier was local rider Robert Medson, also on 12 points.
Just missing a berth were another local rider, Brayden McGuinness, and Queenslander Zane Keleher who both scored 11 points, with identical results of three wins, a second place and a fall, and even the falls were similar with both caught four wide going through the first turn and crashing heavily into the air fence in turn two.
Keleher’s fall came in his first ride so he was under some pressure to score points after that but regained his composure well to be only beaten by Bewley in his other heats. McGuinness beat Sedgmen to win the race in which Keleher fell, then fell in his next ride before also only being beaten by Bewley in his other heats.
While Bewley dominated the meeting, the racing was close amongst the other riders and there were five riders tied on 8 points for the other two places in the semi-final, with Jack Morrison (Victoria) and Jedd List (Queensland) winning the countback ahead of Dakota Ballantyne, Kyle Bickley (England) and Tom Brennan (England).
In the last chance semi-final List went for a big outside pass on Keleher and Morrison in turn three but reared up and crashed into the fence at high speed. Fortunately, once again, the air fence justified its cost and List escaped any serious injury. In the rerun McGuinness made the early running and looked a likely winner but Keleher went around him to take the lead at the end of the second lap, and then McGuinness broke a chain on the last lap and could only roll around to finish third behind Keleher and Morrison.
After the thrills of the semi-final, the final was straight forward with Bewley leading all the way to win from Keleher, Sedgmen and Medson. Bickley is only the fourth British rider to win the championship, joining some famous names in Scotland’s Ken McKinlay (1957), and England’s Nigel Boocock (1969) and Doug Wyer (1980).
Of the riders in the bottom half of the scorecard, 16-year-old Liam May was the one that caught the eye, and was possibly unfortunate not to be in the semi-final. May surprised everyone by leading Medson, Ballantyne and Bowes in the opening heat until Ballantyne fell and was hit by Bowes bringing the race to a stop. Most though the stoppage had ruined May’s chance of a shock win but he repeated the effort in the rerun and, depending on your angle, appeared to have won narrowly after a wheel-to-wheel race with Medson, and the transponders indicated May had the fastest time, but the referee said Medson got up on the line.
The supporting Sidecar races also produced some close racing, so much so that there were six different winners in the eight heats, and top scorers Mark Mitchell/Tony Carter only scored 9 out of a possible 12 points. Joining them in the final were Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr and Rick Stephens/Nick O’Brien on 8 points, and Dean Hobbs/Glen Zaworski on 7.
Hobbs put in his best performance for quite some time to get into the final ahead of the more fancied Kym Menadue/Eric Melton and Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning, who both scored 5 points, but the final was an all-the-way win by Headland ahead of Mitchell and Stephens with Hobbs excluded for going infield.
The Sidecars take the limelight in the next meeting, on 28 December, with the staging of the Eagle Fuels South Australian Championship. Nominations don’t close until 15 December but Headland, Mitchell and Stephens are amongst the early nominations along with World Cup holder Warren Monson, and former Oceania champion Mark Plaisted.
Typical heat action from a night of close and exciting racing. Tom Brennan (white), Robert Medson (yellow), Jack Morrison (blue) and Justin Sedgmen (red). Photo by Judy Mackay.
The semi-final just before Jedd List's spectacular crash. Zane Keleher (blue), Jedd List (yellow), Brayden McGuinness (red). Photo by Judy Mackay.
Early in the final. Robert Medson (yellow), Zane Keleher (white), Dan Bewley (red). Photo by Judy Mackay.
The placegetters, left to right: Robert Medson (4th), Justin Sedgmen (3rd), Dan Bewley (1st), Zane Keleher (2nd). Photo by Judy Mackay.