Merbein’s Justin Sedgmen added a sixth state championship to his resume with victory in the Littlehampton Clay Bricks and Pavers South Australian Solo Championship at Gillman Speedway on Tuesday night (28 December).
Sedgmen had previously won the title in 2018, and has won four Victorian championships, the last three in succession.
Sedgmen was unbeaten on the night and won the final ahead of two local stars, Fraser Bowes and Brayden McGuinness, with Queenslander Zane Keleher falling while running in fourth place.
Sedgmen was largely unchallenged, with his toughest race surprisingly against the unheralded Dayle Wood in heat ten, in which they exchanged the lead a couple of times before Wood disappointingly fell just after passing Sedgmen on the third lap.
Championship runner-up Fraser Bowes had a similar night to Sedgmen, dropping just the one point when they met in a tough heat 13 which also included third placegetter McGuinness, and, like Sedgmen, he was only pushed by a couple of the non-qualifiers, Arlo Bugeja and Maurice Brown.
Zane Keleher, with 11 points was the third of the direct qualifiers for the final, but wasn’t as impressive as he has been in past appearances at Gillman, and never looked likely to take the title.
The four semi-finalists were Cooper Riordan (10), Patrick Hamilton (10), Liam May (9) and Brayden McGuinness (9).
McGuinness opened the night in red-hot form and looked a probable finalist when he beat the fancied Keleher by a quarter of a lap in the fastest time of the night in heat one, but things quickly went downhill after that when he was unable to start his bike for a restart after May had fallen in the first turn of heat five. He then only scored 3 points from his next two rides before winning his last heat to secure the last place in the semi-final.
In the semi-final he made a lightning start and led all the way to win from Riordan and Hamilton with May a non-finisher.
The Mildura duo of Riordan and Hamilton earlier both had chances to go straight into the final as the third qualifier. Riordan had a similar night to Keleher, quietly accumulating points without doing anything eye-catching, and a win in his last ride would have put him into the final ahead of Keleher on countback and it looked likely when he was the early leader but he was passed by Liam May on the second lap to relegate him to the semi-final.
Hamilton was the surprise packet of the night. He was only considered an outsider for a semi-final berth, but in a career best meeting he would have been a direct qualifier for the final with a superb 12 points if not for a bike failure in his opening ride. He was running second, close behind Riordan, when a chain broke with just a lap to go. So a pointless first ride but thereafter he was only beaten by Sedgmen and Bowes.
The other semi-finalist, Liam May, had a mixed night with his win in heat twenty his best ride. May missed all but one meeting last season recovering from a shoulder operation, and then injured the same shoulder at work just before the previous Gillman meeting and was in doubt leading up to the title meeting. After a first up second behind Bowes, his cause wasn’t helped when he fell in heat five when he and McGuinness went into the first turn together, although he did win the rerun ahead of Brown and Bugeja. He also fell in his fourth ride and retired early in the semi-final.
As predicted quite a few of the non-qualifiers put plenty of pressure on the riders who finished ahead of them, in particular, Maurice Brown (8), Jake Turner (7), Dayle Wood (6), Arlo Bugeja (6), Steve Graetz (5) and Jackson Milner (3).
All dropped a few points for various reasons, which prevented them pushing closer for a semi-final berth but Brown was the most unfortunate one who should have made it through. He was the early leader in his last race against Turner, Bowes and Hamilton, and although he was passed by Bowes he was a close second and looking at 10 points when he fell on the third lap.
Jake Turner scored 7 points but had a disappointing night compared to his previous form this season, and a tape break in the first ride of the night didn’t help. Wood, Bugeja and Graetz were always in the mix and the riders ahead of them could not afford to relax, while 16-year-old Milner, in only his second senior meeting, was in one of the best races of the night, running wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton and McGuinness in heat 9 before falling while attempting an inside pass on McGuinness at the end of the third lap.
In the support classes, Brian Silvy/Damian Egan (sidecar), Kyle Machin (flat track solo) and Harry Sadler (125cc junior solo) all went through their races unbeaten.
With Thomas Adams/Jaxon Rayner (isolation) and Kym Menadue/Eric Melton (engine) out of the Sidecar events the remaining five bikes went out together in each race, and while Silvy/Egan had a career-best night with five out of five, the racing was fast and furious between all five outfits, Silvy even being in last place early in one of his heats, and positions changed throughout each race.
While Machin won his four Flat Track races, there was plenty of dicing for the other heat wins and placings between Seane Chapman, Dylan McKenzie, Julian Timmis and Sean Curtis, heat five being the best example when McKenzie took the lead with only one lap to go but finished third behind Chapman and Curtis.
Flat Track Final action. Seane Chapman (blue 46), Sean Curtis (white 55), Kyle Machin (red 5) and Dylan McKenzie (green 312). Photo by Judy Mackay.