Headland and Mordaunt win season finale at Gillman
Gillman Media 27 March 2023
16-year-old Nate Headland won the first final of his senior career when he took out the Paintmaster SA Sidecar Cup in an entertaining final meeting for the season at Adelaide’s Gillman Speedway on Saturday night (25 March).
Headland and stand-in passenger Byron Mordaunt, replacing the unavailable Jaxon Rayner, were equal top point scorers with Shane Rudloff and Scott Morris in the twelve heats, and then won the final ahead of Rudloff/Morris, Dean Hobbs/Daniel Low and Nathan Fleet/Eric Melton.
With many of the Sidecar riders either in Perth, or preparing to go, for the Australian Championship, and likewise the international Solo riders either already back in Europe, or preparing to go, competitor numbers were well down on normal, and when more dropped out before and during the meeting in could have been a dismal failure, but with those riding being very evenly matched it turned out to be an entertaining meeting with close racing the rule rather than the exception.
Headland and Rudloff both scored 11 out of a possible 12 points in the heats. Headland dropped his only point to Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy in the first heat of the night, which was his first race with Mordaunt as passenger, but after that they gelled well and were unbeaten. Rudloff dropped his point to Headland in heat ten, the race of the night and one of the best of the season. Nathan Fleet has had an ordinary season with mechanical woes, but had the BMW working well in this race and was the surprise early leader before being passed by both Rudloff and Headland who then exchanged the lead several times before Headland took a narrow win ahead of Rudloff with Fleet third.
The third direct qualifiers for the final were Dean Hobbs and Daniel Low, another team who have had a disappointing season with mechanical problems. Hopes were high for Hobbs this season after an outstanding showing in last season’s Australian Championship qualifying round, but he hasn’t been able to get the bike right all season, and Saturday night was his best night of the season with 10 points in the heats and third in the final, beaten only by Headland and Rudloff during the heats and final.
The semi-final was a real battle of attrition. Mark Mitchell (no passenger) and Tim Bichard (injury) dropped out before the meeting and then Adam Pascoe/Axel Brereton, Kane Golding/Isaac Amos and Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy dropped out with mechanical issues during the night leaving just three starters, Brian Silvy/Dean Cottrell, Fleet/Melton and Josh Pascoe/Matt Crawford available to fight for the last place in the final. A good race still looked likely but there was more attrition still to come. Silvy and Fleet were side by side on the opening lap, with Pascoe just behind, when Pascoe collided with Silvy and Cottrell fell spectacularly. Fortunately he wasn’t seriously injured and they were able to start in the rerun but Pascoe was excluded. Although down to only two bikes it was a thrilling race. Fleet led throughout but Silvy came under him on the last lap. Fleet was able to hold him out to take the win but as it turned out Silvy was excluded for going infield when he tried the inside pass on Fleet.
The 500cc Solo events consisted solely of match races between Brayden McGuinness and Michael West. At the previous meeting they met six times, with McGuinness winning five of the six, and Saturday night looked like it might be a continuation of the same when McGuinness was a clear leader into turn one in heat one, but West, who started from gate four, switched to the inside and went under him in turn two to take the lead. He then moved away to take the first heat and followed that by leading all the way to also win the second heat.
West then looked sure to make it 3-0 when he led the third heat but inexplicably fell in turn four on the third lap, gifting a win to McGuinness. McGuinness then led all the way in heat four to make it 2-2, and set up a heat five decider.
In the deciding heat McGuinness led a close race all the way to take the series 3-2 . . . or so we thought. When the official result was given it was announced McGuinness had been excluded for not having a dirt deflector on his bike, so it was actually a 3-2 win to West.
West also rode in the Flat Track Solo events and went through the card unbeaten, his only challenge coming from Port Pirie veteran David Footner (three-times West’s age) who was only beaten by West on the night. Brent Webley finished third and Con Twist fourth in the final, while Kristy Schultz got a loud round of applause when she won the consolation race ahead of Matt Paterson, Greg Laanekorb and Richard Bunting.
In the Junior events, Kobi Canning was unbeaten in the 125cc Solo class, and won the final ahead of Hayden Pascoe, Hayden Kuchel and Ruby Chapman, while Amelia Silvy/Hayden Kuchel had a clear run in the 250cc Sidecars after Sam Horton/Riley Edson had mechanical problems.