Merbein’s Justin Sedgmen fulfilled his pre-meeting favouritism by winning his third Jack Young Cup at Gillman speedway on Saturday night.
Although it was Sedgmen’s first race meeting since January he looked comfortable on the bike as he cruised through his rides and only dropped one point, to eventual meeting runner-up Dakota Ballantyne, in his last heat ride.
Although he didn’t win, this was one of Ballantyne’s most impressive meetings. While he was patchy on his way to winning his fourth Gillman Championship in the previous meeting, on Saturday night he was hard, fast, smooth and just as importantly consistent, as he strung together five good rides. Going into the final he looked to be the only one with an outside chance of beating Sedgmen, but ultimately the Victorian champion was too good.
Sedgmen later made a heartfelt speech at the trophy presentation, dedicating the win to his grandma Dawn who passed away in October, and gave the trophy to grandpa Phil who was a leading rider at Mildura in the 1960s.
Joining Sedgmen and Ballantyne in the six-rider, six-lap final were Jordan Stewart, who was equal top point scorer with Sedgmen and Ballantyne on 11 points, Fraser Bowes (9), Arlo Bugeja (8) and Patrick Hamilton on countback from Declan Knowles (6).
The final was pretty much from the gate with the only action being a close race between Bowes and Stewart for third place. Bowes rode well again this meeting and had Stewart’s measure until he made his only mistake of the night and got crossed up between turns one and two towards the end of the race. It was all Stewart needed to move past Bowes into third, but almost straight away Stewart made his own mistake in turn two and Bowes quickly regained the place. Stewart later eased off and was passed by Hamilton for fourth place.
In the support Solo Encourage races Mildura dirt track rider Brenton Kerr, better known to most as Mick Headland’s sidecar passenger, made his speedway Solo debut and won all four races against Teagan Pedler.
The Sidecars were low on numbers but not excitement as the Silvy brothers, Kym Menadue and Stephen Fowler had some good scraps. Early in the meeting Kym Menadue/Eric Melton looked like they were going to go through the card unbeaten as they won their first two races with ease, but starting from the outside against the Silvys in their third ride they ran out of room as they were three wide in turn two, and then couldn’t find a way through as the Silvys raced side-by-side in front with Brian Silvy/Damian Egan taking the win.
Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy reversed the result in the all-important final however, leading Brian and Damian home by about ten metres. Menadue/Melton and Fowler/Corey Palmer were both non-finishers. In a hair-raising moment, Menadue careered off the track at high speed at the end of lap one. He looked like he was going to hit the starting tape post but narrowly missed it, and then the infield officials did really well to hold their nerve, and positions, while Menadue fought to control the bike and avoid hitting anyone, or upending the bike. The race continued with Aaron leading. Fowler tried an inside pass on Brian, to take second place, in turn four on lap three but spun off the track, much to his obvious annoyance.
The Flat Track bikes also provided some excitement, particularly the races with Steve Batchelor. Covid might mean we are missing Troy’s brand of excitement but Dad Steve seems to be filling the breach, and after some eye-catching rides it came as a surprise to some that he had not accumulated enough points to qualify for the six rider final, missing out by one point. The final saw a couple of falls reduce the field to three. First Logan Coombe fell and Shane Church hits his bike and also fell. Coombe was excluded and Church unable to start in the rerun, and then Jesse Headland fell, leaving former international speedway rider Nigel Sadler to complete a clean sweep of the programme ahead of Brock Gates and Like Bacskai, also both former speedway riders.
Ashley Jansen-Batchelor won the 125cc junior solo final after he and Harry Sadler exchanged the lead several times. Jake Fleet was third and Travis Clarke fourth.