The feature event at Gillman on 6 December was the CBS Bins & Temporary Fencing Gillman Solo Championship and this was dominated by Justin Sedgmen whose only dropped points came from an engine failure while leading his last heat.
Robert Branford was expected to be a serious challenger to Sedgmen, but the benefit to Sedgmen of riding a full season, injury free, with a successful and well-run club like Edinburgh in the British Premier League was apparent from the first heat when he was just one-tenth of a second outside Leigh Adams’ track record set in 2009.
Branford finished second to Sedgmen in that race, but was excluded for touching the tapes in his second ride, which put him in jeopardy of missing the final with only four rides in the format and another race against Sedgmen to come.
As it turned out the battle for places in the final could not have been closer going into the last round of heats as Sedgmen was on 9 and Fallon on 6 but every other rider was on 4.
Heat seven was the race in which Sedgmen retired after three laps gifting the win to Fallon ahead of Medson and Riordan. All three riders in heat eight had a chance of qualifying for the final but there were no challenges with Branford winning from Waters and Bugeja, leaving the final points as Sedgmen and Fallon on 9, Branford 7, Waters and Medson on 6, and Bugeja and Riordan on 5.
With the count back unable to separate Waters and Medson it was decided to go with five in the final but it made no difference to Sedgmen who led all the way. Branford, from gate five, was slow out of the start but went four wide down the back straight to move into second place, then Waters got under him at the end of lap one and there were no further changes thereafter, Sedgmen winning his first Gillman Championship from Waters, Branford, Fallon and Medson.
The Division 2 Championship went to an impressive Jordan Stewart who was making his senior debut at Gillman after turning 16 just three weeks earlier. Stewart went through the card unbeaten and won most of his races with ease. The only time he was challenged was by eventual runner-up Jake Mitchell, who led him for two laps in heat three.
Mitchell was also impressive and his performance was by far his best showing at Gillman. He was fast, smooth and just as importantly consistent, as he maintained the same speed and style throughout the night. Hopefully this will be a turning point for him and he will continue to improve.
Third place went to WA visitor Brady Webb. Webb is a good supporter of Gillman Speedway but this was his first time on a bike for quite some time because of an injury and he started slowly before looking more like the championship threat he was expected to be in his last two heat rides when he was a close second to Mitchell in heat five and won heat seven. He then pushed Mitchell hard all the way in the final but was unable to get by and finished third.
The other finalist was Seth Hickey who had an unhappy end to his night when he flipped the bike leaving the tapes and was excluded. Fortunately he was not injured.
The Under 16 250cc Solo Championship saw the trifecta completed for the Mildura riders with Jaimon Lidsey taking out the title, and like Jordan Stewart, going through the card unbeaten. And again like Stewart he looked the likely winner right from heat one when he clocked a 59.84 seconds, which is only just over a second a lap slower than Leigh Adams’ track record.
Lidsey was never headed during the night, however he wasn’t able to relax as he was followed closely by eventual championship placegetters Dakota Ballantyne and Jack Sylvia in both the heats and the final. Local rider Mitchell Grech was fourth home in the final.
The Group One Sidecar races looked like being a fizzer when two of the five riders (Arron Hartwig and Rob Patterson) were late withdrawals, and then Brenten Dywer’s bike died at the tapes in the first heat and he was out for the rest of the night, but nothing could have been further from the truth as Jason Hardy/Adam Pascoe and Daniel Puddy/Luke Puddy produced the races of the night and as good as anything we’ve seen this season. In each of their five races they were wheel-to-wheel, and more often than not, side-by-side for the full four laps and it was exciting stuff to watch. And if that was enough, after two wins apiece, Group Two rider Shane Rudloff/Damian Egan – after only scoring 4 points in Group 2 – came out and beat the both of them in the deciding fifth heat!
The Group Two Sidecars were no less exciting with all four riders in each heat usually in with a chance of winning, and in fact at the end of the night all five riders in the group – Kym Menadue/Anthony Schulz, Tim Bichard/Dale Knights, Ricky Fechner/Justin Richards, Shane Rudloff/Damian Egan and Clinton Crabb/Jarred Edey – had each won one of the five heats. All five riders also were on the pace in their one ride each against the Group One riders which is going to make it very hard for the selectors to pick the field for the State Championship in January. On points, Menadue/Schulz won the group with 8 points, from Bichard/Knights 7 and Fechner/Richards 6.
The Group Three Sidecars was the only group with a clear-cut winner with Keith Bichard/Derick Thomas scoring 11 out of a possible 12 points, with Dean Hobbs/ Andy Westover on 8 and Mal Greig/Scott Banyer on 7. Bichard was unlucky not to go through the card unbeaten as he led the first heat for two laps before Darryll Woods/Will Walker hit the fence causing a race stoppage, and in the rerun Greig managed to lead all the way for a narrow win.
The close racing continued in the 125cc Juniors on the infield track. The division one races produced some fiery racing but Jack Norman came out on top in three of the four races but was excluded from his second ride for an overly aggressive pass on Brayden McGuinness. The division two races saw rookies Hugh Evans and Fraser Bowes the surprise top scorers with 10 points each.