Ryan Douglas continued his golden run in his southern states sojourn with victory in the Adelaide Hills Business Park Solo Spectacular at Gillman Speedway on Saturday night (30 Jan), adding to his previous victories in the Phil Crump International Solo Trophy and ATPI Mildura Solo Masters in Mildura, and the South Australian Championship at Gillman.
Douglas top scored in the heats with 14 points, and then won the final ahead of Rohan Tungate (13 heat points), Jason Crump (12) and Justin Sedgmen (12).
His only dropped point was to a revitalised Jordan Stewart in heat seven. Ultimately Stewart’s overall result of 12 points and second to Sedgmen in the semi-final meant his final placing wasn’t as high as some other meetings this season, but this was the best he had ridden at Gillman this season, as he seemed a little subdued in his previous meetings despite good results.
Third and fourth in the final capped successful seasons for Crump and Sedgmen who reached the final in every meeting they contested, which was five in Crump’s case and eight for Sedgmen.
Australia #2 Rohan Tungate is always popular with the Adelaide fans and rode well, as he always does at Gillman, and briefly led the final but Douglas was too good for him on this occasion and passed him on the opening lap.
He dropped his two heat points in an intriguing, and exciting, heat 9 which brought together Tungate, Douglas, Dakota Ballantyne and Fraser Bowes.
The questions as they came to the tapes were who would win out of Tungate and Douglas, and could the in-form Ballantyne offer any challenge, but it was Bowes who took the lead and for most of the race looked like winning. Bowes led at the end of the third lap from Douglas and Ballantyne with Tungate in last place, but a slight mistake by Bowes on lap three caused him to lose just enough momentum for Douglas to make up ground to get into a passing position on the last lap. Tungate also passed Ballantyne on the last lap for a Douglas-Bowes-Tungate-Ballantyne finish.
Ballantyne and Bowes have been in the mix every meeting this season and have given local fans plenty to cheer about and, along with Bendigo’s Jack Morrison, have been the big improvers for the pandemic-hit 20/21 season.
All three scored 9 points in the heats with Ballantyne and Morrison making the semi-final, where they were beaten by Sedgmen and Stewart, while Bowes missed out on a semi-final berth on countback. After his slashing ride against Douglas and Tungate, he was expected to win his last ride to finish on 10 points, but he found himself in last place early on and by the time he passed Blake Ridley and Jake Turner, race leader Cooper Riordan was long gone.
As well as depriving Bowes of a start in the semi-final, Riordan was also the first person to take a point off Stewart, and after a year on the sidelines he rode as well, or better, than before his “semi-retirement” but ultimately fell one point short of a semi-final berth.
Highest placed of the others was Queensland rider Jacob Hook on 7, while the others, while not scoring many points were there or thereabouts in most races, and the best race of the night was heat eight between Ballantyne, Hook, Riordan and Knowles as they continually swapped places with the crowd cheering as Ballantyne came from last to first.
In the support events, Jake Mitchell top scored in the Solo reserves’ races with 11 of a possible 12 points. Roy Stout gave him plenty of “hurry-up” and won one race, but fell in a couple of others while dicing with Mitchell.
Jackson Milner won the card in the Under 16 250cc Solos, but it wasn’t an easy task. There was nothing much between Milner, Michael Cogdell, Jack McDiarmid and Joshua Beetham, but the fact Milner managed to win every race was an indication of how rapidly he has been improving since getting off the 125 and onto the 250.
In the Sidecars Broken Hill riders Rick Stephens and Max Howse repeated the result of their last appearance at Gillman, in the Gillman Sidecar Championship, by finishing 1-2 in the final.
After some close racing in the heats, Stephens/Nick O’Brien finished as top point scorers with 10 points, ahead of Howse/Riley Commons 9 and Nathan Fleet/Kaidyn Silvy on 8. Stephens dropped his points to Fleet and Howse, but also beat both during the heats, so the final appeared to be wide open but it was all the NSW riders as Stephens won a close race with Howse, while further back Brian Silvy/Damian Egan won a similarly close race with Fleet/Silvy for third, with promising novice duo Kane Golding/Isaac Amos, having their first meeting on the ex-Mark Drew bike, spinning off the track while attempting an inside pass on Fleet.
After some close, and impressive, riding by all riders in the Under 16 125cc Solo Scratch Races, New South Wales rider Beau Bailey repeated his effort of two nights’ early at Sidewinders by passing Australia #2 Harry Sadler to win the final. Sadler finished second with WA #1 Mitchell McDiarmid third. Jake Fleet fell after some contact between Sadler and McDiarmid in front of him on the final lap.