Warren Monson and Andrew Summerhayes won the FIM Speedway Sidecar World Cup at Gillman Speedway last night, in a meeting which they and runners-up Mark Plaisted and Ben Pitt dominated as the other riders fell by the wayside by all manner of ways including mechanical, injury, exclusions and even suspensions in an eventful night’s racing.
The meeting started relatively uneventful – compared to what was to follow – with straight forward wins by Shane Hudson/Adam Constable, Plaisted/Pitt, Brodie Cohen/Damian Egan, and Darrin Treloar/Blake Cox.
Hudson produced his best ride of a mechanical plagued season at Gillman to win heat one convincingly with all the action between Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris, Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning and Jamie Moohan/Bayley Ogilvie for the minor placings, but there was disappointment for Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear who were excluded for exceeding the two minute time allowance. Niesche had faced a major rebuild after a spectacular crash in the Bob White Cup meeting (March 23) only to have clutch trouble as he came to the tapes.
Heat two was another easy win, this time for Plaisted as he led home Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr, Arron Hartwig/Teagan Hartwig and Tyler Moon/Adam Lovell. Heat three was another all-the-win win but surprisingly it was Cohen who led home the more fancied Andrew Buchanan/Denny Cox and Trent Headland/Darryl Whetstone. Heat four was the first race to bring two of the favourites together as the past two winners, Treloar and Monson, faced each other but there were no challenges as Treloar led all the way, but it was the only time Monson was going to be beaten on the night.
Heat five was the first of the contentious heats. It was a clear-cut victory for Monson over Niesche and Mick Headland but as Niesche, Headland and Buchanan were three wide coming out of turn two, Buchanan was pushed into the fence. He lost control and went infield, with his hand raised for restart which wasn’t forthcoming so it was a pointless ride for the Kiwi.
Heat six was an easy win for Plaisted, but some minor disappointment for Hudson after his first-up win as he was relegated to third place by Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin after a close race between Gates, Hudson and Dlylan Moohan/Sean Mason.
Heat seven was similar with an easy win for Treloar but heat three winner Cohen finished last, well behind Hartwig and Jamie Moohan, and worse was to come for Cohen in his next ride.
Heat eight was by far the best race to this point with Rudloff, Trent Headland and Moon finishing wheel-to-wheel, and Headland and Moon side-by-side throughout lap three.
So, after eight heats, things were pretty much as expected. Three of the favourites were leading the pointscore with Plaisted and Treloar unbeaten on 6 and Monson on 5. The only real surprises were Trent Headland a little of the pace with only 3 points, and Buchanan, after his heat five incident, only on 2, but there was plenty of drama just ahead, starting with heat nine.
There was nothing dramatic about the result as Plaisted continued his unbeaten run with Niesche second and Cohen third, but news soon came from the pits that Cohen’s clutch had disintegrated, and after such an impressive start, his night was over.
Then came a very dramatic heat 10, which started with both Hudson and Treloar stopping on the way to the tapes. Unfortunately for Hudson he’d dropped a chain so he was out before the race started and it was looking like Treloar could go the same way as he and Blake Cox were frantically trying to determine why bike 84 had stopped. They eventually got going only for the bike to stall as soon as the tapes went up and Treloar was out, leaving the Headlands, Mick and Trent, to fight out the race – literally!
After an aggressive inside pass by Mick he took the lead early in the race, with Trent in second until the back straight on lap three when his bike stopped and they were unable to push it off the track which brought on the red lights as Mick, and reserves Brian Silvy/Cameron White completed the third lap. All quiet so far but as Mick approached Trent’s bike there was some angry gesturing and Mick spun his bike to a stop next to Trent’s and then there was some pushing and shoving between the two teams until officials intervened. Mick was awarded the race win, but as a result of the affray, both teams were disqualified from the rest of the meeting, and later fined.
The excitement continued in the final two heats of the round, but more with close racing than controversy. Buchanan put himself back in the picture with a win in heat eleven, but only just as he and Moon finished side-by-side, and then Monson won heat twelve, with Hartwig, Rudloff and Dylan Moohan wheel-to-wheel for the minor placings.
So a lot had happened in the space of one round. Plaisted, unbeaten on 9, and Monson, 8, were still leading the pointscore, and Treloar (6), despite his dnf, was hanging on to third by virtue of his two heats wins, but Mick Headland, Brodie Cohen and Trent Headland were all out of the meeting, giving renewed hope of a semi-final berth to quite a few riders.
The excitement continued in the fourth round with points now vital, and some close race ensued amongst those fighting for a semi-final berth, but Plaisted and Monson continued on the winning ways as there was more bike trouble for Treloar.
Heat 13 saw Niesche back in contention with a heat win but it was a close run thing as the fairing on his bike was rubbing on the tyre on the last lap and he only just managed to creep home ahead of Hartwig which put both on 7 points.
Heat 14 was an exciting race between Monson, Moon and Hudson, and early in the race it looked like Hudson would win and also advance to 7 points, as he led from Moon and Monson, but Monson passed Moon and then Hudson and lap two, and Moon passed Hudson on lap three, to leave Moon and Hudson on 5 points.
After a win by Jamie Moohan, over his brother Dylan, in heat 15, there was more drama for Treloar in heat 16 as his bike again stopped before the race started. This time he was able to start, and finish, the race but he could only manage third place behind Plaisted and Buchanan, and only grabbed that valuable one point from Rudloff on the last lap.
With a round to go, Plaisted (12) and Monson (11) were assured of the top two places, with their clash in heat 19 to decide who would get first choice of gate in the final, but Treloar, Niesche, Buchanan and Hartwig were tied on 7 points, with Rudloff clinging to the last semi-final berth with 6 points, just ahead of Jamie Moohan, Hudson and Moon on 5.
Niesche, Moon and Treloar were the first to race, all in heat 17, and again there was a pre-race drama for Treloar as his bike stopped at the tapes just as the two minutes expired. As the green lights had not come on he was fortunately able to quickly restart the bike and in the ensuing race he romped away for an easy win and looked to be back on track for a possible third World Cup victory but then the bike cut-out again on the slow down lap, so although he was now already assured of a start in the final on heat wins, he was still stuck with the problem of trying to determine just what was wrong with his bike. Niesche won a wheel-to-wheel finish with Moon, which meant Niesche was into the semi-final and Moon was finished for the night.
Buchanan, Hudson and Hartwig were drawn together in heat 18 with Hudson the one most needing the points but there was disaster ahead for Hudson and Buchanan as Buchanan crashed heavily in turn two, which saw him out of the rerun injured, and Hudson also out, excluded as the cause of the accident. Hartwig had no trouble beating Joe Jones in the rerun to join Treloar on 10 points, and first choice of gate in the semi-final.
With Buchanan injured, Moohan needed two points in heat 19 to get into the semi-final but unfortunately for him he was facing Monson and Plaisted! Needless-to-say he could only manage third place, despite a close race with Plaisted, and so was eliminated, as Monson raced away for a surprisingly easy win to top the scorecard over Plaisted on countback.
Despite only finishing three races, and winning one, Buchanan surprisingly still had enough points to qualify for the semi-final, but his heat 18 crashed ruled him out, leaving an all-South Australian race between Hartwig, Rudloff (who won heat 20) and Niesche and this was another dramatic event.
Starting from gate one, Hartwig took the early lead and rode the high line as Niesche took the low line to try to chase him down. Niesche was able to make a passing move out of turn two and down the back straight on the second lap but then Hartwig lost control and ran off the track and the race was stopped. Despite a lengthy protest that he’d done nothing wrong, Niesche was excluded from the two bike rerun between Hartwig and Rudloff.
Again Hartwig was the early leader but the drama was not over. As they finished the second lap smoke starting billowing from Hartwig’s bike and his race looked shot, but somehow he not only managed to keep going but retained the lead until Rudloff was able to make an inside pass with just a quarter-of-a-lap remaining.
After all the drama of the preceding races, the final was comparatively subdued, as Monson led a wheel-to-wheel race with Plaisted all the way to win his second World Cup and Plaisted finished a comfortable second with Treloar third after a close race with Rudloff.