Dakota Ballantyne won his second Gillman Solo Championship with relative ease last night after Robert Medson had earlier been unbeaten in the heats, including two wins over Ballantyne.
Medson (12 points), Ballantyne (10), and Brayden McGuinness (7) were the direct qualifiers for the final, with McGuinness needing a touch of luck as he won a coin toss with Fraser Bowes after they could not be separated by a countback for the third spot.
That relegated Bowes to the last chance semi-final against Connor Bailey (6), Declan Knowles (4) and Blake Ridley (2), and this was without doubt the Solo race of the night.
Bowes was the early leader from Knowles and Bailey but Bailey passed Knowles towards the end of the first lap, and Bowes on the second lap to take the lead and from that point they were wheel-to-wheel with Bailey winning by just 9 hundredths of a second from Knowles and Bowes, Knowles pinching second from Bowes on the line by a mere 2 thousandths of a second!
The Final wasn’t as close as Ballantyne scooted away to win easily and join Kevin Doolan, Sam Martin, Shane Parker and Robert Branford as a two-time winner. No rider has won more than twice.
For most of the race Medson looked like taking his third consecutive second place in the championship but a bike problem on the last lap saw him pushed back to third place by McGuinness, with Bailey finishing fourth.
The Eagle Fuels Gillman Sidecar Championship was won by Tim Bichard/Adam Pascoe after a hard fought and entertaining night’s racing, but they had a little luck on the way with Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning throwing away what looked a certain win.
Bichard/Pascoe, Fleet/Canning and Brian Silvy/Cameron White were the direct qualfiers for the final, all with 11 points, and there was no obvious favourite as Silvy had beaten Fleet in heat four; Bichard then beat Silvy in heat 8, and Fleet beat Bichard in heat 11.
They were joined in the final be Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy who comfortably won the semi-final from Ricky Adams/Alice Cox and Matt Crundwell/Cam Nichols. Although they were no threat to Silvy in the semi-final, Adams/Cox showed vastly improved form during the meeting and led all three of the top scorers – Bichard, Fleet and Brian Silvy – at times during the heats.
The early leaders in the final were Fleet and Bichard who were side by side down the back straight. Fleet then took Bichard high through turns three and four to take the lead and he increased his lead each lap and looked certain to win until he spun infield in turn two on the last lap. At the time Brian Silvy was pressing Bichard for second place which suddenly became first place and Silvy tried his best for an inside pass through turns three and four and on the run to the finish but Bichard kept his cool, and his line, to win by just 18 hundredths of a second.
In the supporting Under 16 250cc Solo match races between local rider Liam May, who was having his final rides before moving into senior competition, and the current World champion, Ben Ernst, from Germany, the honours were shared with two wins apiece. Basically the rider starting on the outside in each race won the start and the race.
Doug Hayden swept the card in the Dirt Track Solo events, while Brad Lawler and Jake Roberts had the best dices of the night for second place with Lawler finishing ahead in the first heat, but Roberts getting the better of him in the other three.
The four classic sidecars – Sean Chapman/Matthew Ambrose, John Bennett/Jamie Knudsen, Chris Wakefield/Dale Cox and Wayne Lethbridge/Grantley Simounds – put on a good show and were wheel to wheel most of the time during their four demonstration events.
Top photo: The championship winners, left to right, Adam Pascoe, Dakota Ballantyne, Tim Bichard. Photo by Judy Mackay.