Exciting end after disappointing start at Gillman Speedway
November 19, 2018 by Gillman Media
Saturday night, 17 November, marked the opening of the 22nd season at Adelaide’s Gillman Speedway, and it is safe to say it would have been the most disappointing start to a season, initially at least.
The meeting featured the first appearance of Danish riders Matias Nielsen and Kenneth Jürgensen, and English riders Kyle Bickley, Tom Brennan and Zach Wajtknecht, who were joined by Kiwi Jake Turner and the best local and Mildura riders for a 15-heat British format team match.
After the first two heats, won by Jaimon Lidsey and Kenneth Jürgensen, both in sub-60 second race times, everything came to a halt, and after a few minutes, spectators were surprised, and, needless to say, somewhat disgruntled, when it was announced some riders were not happy with the track. After two sidecar races, Speedway manager Dave Parker dressed the track with the wonder wheel and rolled it with the water truck, but the same riders still did not want to ride so after another two sidecar races, a major track regrade took place – virtually unheard of at Gillman which is regularly praised as one of the best racing strips in Australia. From the spectator area the track looked fine, and after Justin Sedgmen put in some impressive test laps and looked stable and fast, it came as a major surprise to everyone when it was announced Sedgmen, and the three Englishmen, Bickley, Brennan and Wajtknecht, had pulled out of the meeting.
Kyle Bickley (red) and Kenneth Jürgensen (blue) in heat two. Bickley was on his way to victory in his first ride at Gillman until his bike broke down on the final lap. Photo by Judy Mackay.
By the time the third team racing heat was held it was almost two hours after the scheduled meeting start time, but from that point it was situation normal at Gillman, with a slickly run programme of the remaining team heats, and sidecar races, being run in just over an hour twenty minutes, with some exciting racing and quick times, even 16-year-old Connor Bailey, in only his third senior meeting, clocking a sub-60 second race win.
With four riders missing, it was decided to fill their places with riders from the support races, which kept the team managers on their toes ringing in the changes, but the result was some exciting racing and a close finish, thanks in part to double points being used at times, with the “Bulls” defeating the “Robins” by 5 points.
Top scorer for the winning Bulls was 19-year-old Dane, Matias Nielsen, with 13 points, beaten only by man of the match, Jordan Stewart, in heats 5 and 15. Backing him up were Jaimon Lidsey with 11, also only beaten by Stewart, Kenneth Jürgensen 10 paid 11, Robert Branford 9 paid 11, and Dakota Ballantyne 5 paid 7. A good spread of points helping to cover the early loss of Cooper Riordan with a hand injury after a fall in his first ride, the only fall of the night.
Jordan Stewart was the star rider of the night, scoring 15 points from four completed rides, including a double-points ride, after a bike failure in his first ride. While not scoring as many points as some of the opposition riders, Robert Medson, 8 paid 9, Jake Turner 6 paid 8, and Brayden McGuinness 6 paid 7, were always in the mix, especially Medson, while even Connor Bailey, the least experienced rider on the programme, showed out with a well-earned 7 points, including a thrilling first ride when he raced Branford all the way to the line.
Jaimon Lidsey (red), Dakota Ballantyne (blue) and Connor Bailey (white) in heat 10. Photo by Judy Mackay.
In the supporting Sidecar races, Sydney rider Shane Hudson (with local passenger Mitchell Spear), repeated his effort of 12-months earlier by going through the card unbeaten.
As predicted it was close racing for the other three places in the final which eventually went to Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris 9, Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning, 7, and Tim Bichard/Adam Pascoe 6, with Rudloff-Bichard-Fleet the finishing order behind Hudson in the final.
Fleet made a slow start and was never a threat, but Hudson, Rudloff and Bichard were wheel to wheel, and Bichard made up ground on Rudloff on the last two laps and they were side-by-side at finish, Rudloff keeping second place by just 3 metres.
Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy (blue) and Shane Hudson/Mitchell Spear (green). Hudson was unbeaten in the opening meeting for the second year in arrow. Photo by Judy Mackay.
The next meeting is the Jack Young Cup on 1 December (the only meeting before Christmas), and David Parker is cautiously optimistic that last night’s dramas won’t affect the crowd for the next meeting. “Look” he said after the meeting “what happened early in the meeting was very, very disappointing, shattering really, and I can fully understand if someone was here for the first time they might not want to come back again, but at the same time we’ve been swamped by words of encouragement by many of the regulars, including many of tonight’s riders, who realise this was just one of those nights and they are already looking forward to the next meeting and the rest of the season.”
Top photo: Jason Stewart (white), Robert Medson (yellow) and Matias Nielsen (red) in the final heat. Photo by Judy Mackay.
More exciting Sidecar action. Tim Bichard/Adam Pascoe (blue) and Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning (white). Photo by Judy Mackay.