Max Fricke scores his first State Championship win
December 30, 2018 by Gillman Media
As expected, international rider Max Fricke won the Littlehampton Clay Bricks and Pavers South Australian Solo Championship at Gillman Speedway on Friday night (28 December).
The only surprise with Fricke’s victory was, as written about prior to the event, it was the former World Under 21 Champion’s first state championship win at senior level.
Pre-meeting, only defending champion Justin Sedgmen was considered a possible threat to Fricke, but Fricke was never challenged by any rider as he won his five heat rides and the final with consummate ease.
Behind Fricke there were seven riders in contention for final or semi-final berths and ultimately the placegetters were Matt Gilmore, Cooper Riordan and Sedgmen.
An entertaining night’s racing started in sensational fashion when 16-year-old Connor Bailey, who has already developed a minor cult following, led Sedgmen from start to finish. Sedgmen challenged Bailey for the whole race, and leading the defending champion must have had Bailey’s adrenalin pumping but he never put a wheel wrong as he thwarted every move by Sedgmen to win by just 0.069 seconds (or 1.5 metres).
Pleasingly for Bailey, and the fans, he was able to go on with it in his other rides to finish equal third on points with Sedgmen, on 12 apiece.
Ahead of them were Fricke, of course, on 15, and Cooper Riordan on 13.
20-year-old Riordan, from Mildura, has a good record in this event, reaching the semi-final stage for the last three years, but this was his best ever performance, as he was not only quick, but like Bailey he was able to maintain his form in every race and he was only beaten by Fricke and Gilmore.
Fricke, Riordan and Sedgmen were the direct qualifiers for the final, Sedgmen getting in ahead of Bailey by countback. Had it been in New Zealand, Bailey would have been in as they start the countback process with who beat who when the competitors met, but Australia still goes with who had the most wins as the first criterion.
That put Bailey into the semi-final, along with Dakota Ballantyne (11), Gilmore (9) and Robert Medson (8). Again a countback was needed to decide the fourth starter, with Medson in ahead of Fraser Bowes.
All four had a realistic expectation they could make the main event. Bailey, as reported, was in good form all night. Likewise Ballantyne who was very smooth all night and beat the other three semi-finalists in the heats, while Gilmore and Medson had started slowly but got better as the night went on.
With only one point from his first two rides there was the suggestion on the terraces that the twice Under 16 World 250cc champion, Gilmore, had not progressed as well as expected at senior level, but he was sensational in his remaining rides. In his third ride he roared around Riordan at the end of the first lap and went on to score a good win ahead of Riordan and Medson. He followed that with another win in heat 14, and then a very good second place behind Sedgmen in heat 20 after they were wheel-to-wheel throughout the race.
Gilmore carried that momentum into the semi-final, and led all the way to win from Medson, Bailey and Ballantyne; and also into the final where he was a comfortable runner-up to Fricke, while Riordan and Sedgmen battled for third place. Fortunately for Riordan he was victorious which means Gilmore and Riordan are now eligible to apply for a UK work visa.
Outside of the semi-final/final qualifiers, there were several impressive performances, not least of all local teenager Fraser Bowes. Bowes had by far his most impressive meeting yet at the last meeting (Jack Young Cup), but stepped up another level again at this meeting. He started with a surprise second place ahead of Gilmore (behind Fricke) in his opening ride and had Riordan beaten in his next ride only to make a mistake on the last lap which caused him to lose a lot of ground, and momentum, which allowed Riordan to score a narrow win. It was only that slip-up that cost him a semi-final place.
Just behind Bowes were the Queensland teenagers Jedd List (7 points) and Jacob Hook (6).
List would have been disappointed after reaching the final of the Jack Young Cup in the previous meeting, but he had some good rides including a heat win over Ballantyne. 16-year-old Hook started slowly but got better as the night progressed and beat both Bowes and List in a couple of his later rides.
If List was disappointed after his Jack Young Cup results that would have gone ten-fold for Brayden McGuinness who won the Cup so would have felt confident of a good showing in the state title but he had a shocker. He started with a second place behind Ballantyne in heat 4. No shame in that, there is nothing between Ballantyne, McGuinness and Medson as top dog of the local riders, but then suffered bike problems in his second heat, fell in his third, and consequently missed his fourth, before finishing with a third place behind the Sedgmen-Gilmore duel in heat 20.
In the supporting Sidecar races, Kym Menadue/Eric Melton were the surprise performers, winning two of their four races against Mark Mitchell/Brad Lawler. Mitchell led the first heat from start to finish but Menadue made a late challenge and only lost by two metres. Menadue then won heats two and three, before his bike unexpectedly stopped while running second to Mitchell in heat four. The sudden stop caused some anxious moments for the closely following Dean Hobbs/Glen Zaworski who ran into the back of Menadue’s bike but fortunately did not crash. Hobbs/Zaworski and Brian Silvy/Cameron White had some close races for the minor placings with the final points Mitchell 10, Menadue 8, Silvy 4, Hobbs 1 and Ricky Adams/Alice Cox 1.
Full heat results are on the Gillman website.
The next meeting is the Australian Solo Championship Qualifying round on Wednesday night, 2 January.
Top photo: Max Fricke (blue) disappears out of frame as Cooper Riordan (red), Matt Gilmore (white) and Justin Sedgmen fight for the minor placings in the final of the Littlehampton Clay Bricks and Pavers South Australian Solo Championship. Photo by Judy Mackay.
Photo below: Placegetters, left to right, Cooper Riordan (third), Max Fricke (first), Matt Gilmore (second) and Justin Sedgmen (fourth). Photo by Judy Mackay.