Mildura’s “Dad’s Army” Sidecar team of Neale Hancock and Brendan Johnson scrambled to get into South Australia late Friday night, before the SA/Vic border was closed, and were rewarded with victory in the Bowes Family Sidecar Cup at Gillman Speedway on Saturday night (13 February).
Hancock/Johnson and local riders Kym Menadue/Eric Melton only dropped one point each in the heats — Hancock to Menadue in heat eight, and Menadue to Brian Silvy/Damian Egan in heat sixteen — and Menadue was the early leader in the final before Hancock stormed past at the end of the first lap and went on to win ahead of Menadue, Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy and Brian Silvy/Damian Egan.
Hancock and Menadue were the standout riders on the scorecard but most of the other riders were tightly bunched on points going into the last round of heats and all four riders — Hancock (11), Aaron Silvy (9), Byren Gates/Darcy Risstrom (9) and Shane Rudloff/Kaidyn Silvy (9) — in heat seventeen had the chance of direct qualification into the final. Silvy and Gates were the early front-runners but while they tried to get the upper-hand on each other, Hancock went under both to take the win ahead of Silvy, Rudloff and Gates, which put Hancock into the final and Silvy waiting on the result of his brother Brian in the next heat to decide his fate.
A win for Brian (9) would have put him into the final and he was slightly ahead as he and Max Howse/Riley Commons (7) were side-by-side for most of the race before Howse snatched the win right on the line, by just 0.19 seconds. Stephen Fowler/Corey Palmer (8) finished third, which meant, on countback, Aaron Silvy (11) went into the final, and Brain Silvy (11), Howse (10), Rudloff (10) and Gates (9) went into the semi-final, with Fowler (9) missing out.
History was almost repeated in the thrilling semi-final when Brian Silvy again led for most of the race only to be challenged by Gates on the run to the line. This time, despite the fence looming closer and closer, Silvy was not prepared to let the win go again and he held on by 0.118 seconds.
In support events the Flat Track Solo riders had the fifth round of their pointscore series and the Final was another win for Nigel Sadler, although he did have his colours lowered by Brock Gates in one of the heats this time. Gates was unbeaten in the heats but found himself at the back early in the final. He managed to get up into second after an aggressive passing move on Will Strugnell, who was in a dice with Jesse Headland for second place, but it was too late to catch Sadler.
The 500cc Solo events were pretty straight forward in the first four events with former New Zealand Under 21 champion Jake Turner far too good for Teagan Pedler and Nicholas Possingham, but the fifth and final heat produced some excitement with Turner put back on a handicap and Pedler able to lead for a couple of laps before Turner caught her.
In the junior events Harry Sadler went close to clean-sheeting when he won his first five rides but he just failed to catch Kobi Canning in his last handicap ride after giving him a 25 metre start.