After missing the event last season due to a trailer breakage en route to Adelaide, Darrin Treloar/Blake Cox regained the sought-after Bob White Sidecar Cup at Gillman Speedway on Saturday night (11 February).
A quick look at the scorecard might suggest it was business as usual for Treloar and Cox as they posted a 15 point maximum in the heats before leading all the way in the final, but they were actually made to work hard for their wins in several races, particularly against the other two direct qualifiers for the final, Tyler Moon/Adam Lovell (14) and Shane Rudloff/Damian Egan (13).
Treloar/Cox were able the win the final relatively comfortable however as the other three bikes were dicing for the minor placings which slowed them enough for Treloar to establish a decent lead.
The Queensland champions Moon/Lovell saw off an early challenge from the semi-final winners Rick Stephens/Nick O’Brien to finish second, while Rudloff/Egan got past Stephens/O’Brien on lap three to take third place.
The win was the fourth for Treloar and Cox in the event which is in memory of a legendary Aussie speedway character, Bob White, who died in 2016. Despite his hundreds of wins in championships and other blue ribbon events, the Bob White Cup is one event Treloar is always keen to win because they were good friends, but this year’s win probably had even extra significance as he dedicated the win to the late Don Morris, the well-known sidecar passenger who passed away in recent weeks.
Back to the earlier heat results and the first threat to Treloar’s usual dominance came in the very first heat when unheralded Melbourne rider Chris Walker, with local passenger Eric Melton, went under him at the end of lap one to take the lead. A monumental boilover might have been on the cards but Walker lost a chain in turn four on lap two, Treloar ran into him and they both went infield with Cox falling from the bike.
Treloar won the rerun and his next two rides easily enough before coming up against Moon and Rudloff in his final two rides. Treloar and Moon were both unbeaten on 9 points when they met in heat 14 and it was Treloar who took the early lead, with Moon, on the outside line, pegged back to third by Brian Silvy/Dean Cottrell. Moon got past Silvy at the end of the first lap and then surprisingly caught, and passed, Treloar at the end of the second lap, but Treloar quickly regained the lead to take the win.
The race with Rudloff was quite similar, with Rudloff getting under Treloar in turn three on the third lap only for Treloar to regain the lead at the end of the lap for another narrow win.
There was some good racing throughout the night, with plenty of passing, but the semi-final, usually one of the races of the night, was a complete fizzer thanks to a botched start.
Prior to the semi, three of the semi-finalists, Max Howse/Riley Commons, Nate Headland/Jaxon Rayner and Rick Stephens had met in heat 20. All three were on 8 points and could not make the final, but likewise could not be edged out of the semi, so it was, in effect, a race to decide the all-important choice of gates for the semi-final. For most of the race it looked like first-year rider Headland would get the first pick as he led for three laps only to be passed by Howse half-a-lap from home.
As it turned out the gate positions were inconsequential. Firstly Howse failed to come out for the race, suffering a bike problem in the pits, which left Headland/Rayner, Stephens/O’Brien and Jake Treloar/Eli Wright to fight for the last place in the final. Initially the tapes were held for so long, the riders throttled off and the start marshals returned to the tapes for a second try, but then the tapes went up and Headland and Treloar were left on the line as Stephens raced away and the race was all over in the first few seconds.
In the support Sidecar events Nathan Fleet/Cameron Diwell had no trouble winning all four of their heats, while Jack Spear/Mitchell Spear were super-impressive in the Classic Sidecar events. Both Spear brothers are very good riders on the modern bikes as well and it is just a pity they can’t afford to race on a regular basis. In the Flat Track Solo events former speedway rider Sean Curtis was unbeaten and won the final from another speedway rider, Roy Stout, Brent Webley, Chloe Ackerley and Con Twist. Teagan Pedler was a clear winner in the first Classic Solo event but her bike gave up the ghost in heat two leaving former North arm rider Darryl Christopher to win that heat and the remaining two heats.
In the Juniors, the Sidecars were also competing for a Bob White Cup and Australian #1 and #2 respectively, Kayden Gates/Harley Ackerley and Lachlan Coppen/Hayden Kuchel were the obvious favourites to fight it out. There is nothing between these two teams but on this occasion Gates/Ackerley were too good, winning all of their heats and the final. They did exchange the lead in the final, so it wasn’t easy for Gates, but he got the win while Coppen spun on the last lap giving second place to Ellie Treloar and Preston Craft.