The 2024 FIM Oceania 500cc Solo Championship has been run and won, and in emphatic style, by Jaimon Lidsey.
Lidsey, Brady Kurtz and Tai Woffinden were pre-meeting favourites, just ahead of Josh Pickering and Justin Sedgmen, but 24-year-old Lidsey, from Red Cliffs in Victoria, streaked away from the opposition to win all seven of his races – his five heats, the first semi-final and the final.
Lidsey was never challenged all night and was only headed once, briefly, when local rider Fraser Bowes gated and led for a lap in heat eight. Apart from that Lidsey was riding in clean air all night.
The meeting was run over the Speedway Grand Prix format of 20 heats, 2 semi-finals and a final, and the top eight scorers going into the semi-finals were Lidsey on 15, three-time World Champion Tai Woffinden 13, Josh Pickering 12, Sam Hagon 11, Brady Kurtz 11, Justin Sedgmen 10, Fraser Bowes 9 and Zane Keleher 7, with Keleher qualifying on a countback ahead Michael West and Jacob Hook who also scored 7 points.
Woffinden dropped his points to Lidsey and Kurtz, while Pickering lost his points to the Lidsey, Kurtz and Woffinden, and his race with Woffinden was one of the highlights of the night as they rode side by side for four laps in a two-rider race in heat five after the other riders, Jack Morrison and Jake Turner, were involved in a terrible looking high-speed crash which put both out for the night. Fortunately the latest news is that, despite being very sore, neither have any broken bones!
Kurtz, who was many people’s favourite after winning the last two rounds of the Australian Champion, had a disappointing start to the meeting when a mechanical fault saw him only travel a few metres in his opening ride. He recovered to score 11 points from his other four rides but the lost points affected his gate options in the finals.
The first semi-final line-up was Lidsey in red, Pickering blue, Bowes white and Kurtz yellow. Lidsey led easily all the way but Pickering and Kurtz exchanged places several times before Kurtz took second by a narrow margin ahead of a clearly disappointed Pickering, bearing in mind there was a Grand Prix qualifying place on the line for the highest placed Australian rider not already in the GP qualifying rounds (which was Rohan Tungate, Max Fricke, Jack Holder and Lidsey). Making the loss all the more painful would have been knowing that had the event been run over the usual Gillman format of the highest three scorers going straight into the final, he would have been in.
The second semi-final saw Woffinden (red) and Sedgmen (white) qualify for the final with Hagon (white) grabbing third after a race long duel with Keleher.
The gates for the final were Lidsey red, Woffinden blue, Sedgmen white and Kurtz yellow, and again Kurtz’s chances were dampened by not having an inside gate. The race was pretty straight forward as Lidsey raced away for another easy win and the only action was a close race for second between Woffinden and Kurtz (which Woffinden won) but Kurtz only had to finish ahead of Sedgmen to claim the fifth GP qualify place, which was a fair outcome as he had also finished fifth in the Australian Championship.
With a number of late changes on the day, the Solo support races had to be deleted, so support only consisted of the 125cc juniors and Harry Sadler doing laps on his 250. In the 125s, Ryleigh McGregor went through the card unbeaten and won the A final from Hayden Pascoe and Riley Stout. Connor Machin won the B Final ahead of Hayden Kuchel and Ruby Chapman, and William Nicol beat Owen Chapman in the C Final in a two bike race after SA#2 Kobi Canning was a non-starter.