Tonight’s Gillman Speedway meeting wide open

Tonight’s Sidecar Super Series meeting at Gillman Speedway is now wide open following yesterday’s withdrawal of meeting favourite, Darrin Treloar.

Treloar, who is in Adelaide with his son Jake who won the South Australian Junior Championship at the Sidewinders track last night, has been forced to stand down from tonight’s meeting due to motor parts not arriving from USA in time.

So, in Treloar’s absence, the question changes from “can anyone beat him” to “who can win the meeting and take the initial lead in the three round series?”

And the answer is – over half the field are capable of winning the meeting, led by 2017 World Cup and Oceania champions Warren Monson/Andrew Summerhayes, from Victoria.

Joining Monson from Victoria are Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin and Neale Hancock/Brendan Johnson. It would be a minor surprise if Gates or Hancock won the meeting, but, along with Monson, they are the best three riders in Victoria, and both are a chance of making at least the semi-final if they are in their best form.

Also a serious chance of making the finals are New South Wales rider Shane Hudson and Queenslander Brodie Cohen.

Hudson finished third in the 2016 Australian Championship and seems destined to take over as NSW #1 when Treloar, Grant Bond and Rick Howse retire. He invariably does well at Gillman and was unbeaten in the opening meeting there for the last two seasons.

Cohen is arguably the number one rider in Queensland, having finished second to Treloar in the last Queensland Championship held, although Tyler Moon and Hamish Golding might also have claims on the #1 tag.

Facing the well credentialled interstate line-up will be some gun locals led by Mark Mitchell/Tony Carter and Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr.

Mitchell is a former Australian champion, and although that was back in 2009 he does still have good current day form and finished second to Treloar in last season’s FIM World Sidecar Cup, and third in the Oceania Championship.

Mick Headland’s resume is well-known to regular speedway goers with an FIM Gold Trophy, two FIM World Track Racing Championships, and three South Australian Championships to his name. He has been hampered by injury in recent times but is always a threat and both Mitchell and Headland will be disappointed if they don’t make the final tonight.

Of the other local riders Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear are always a threat, and Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris and Tim Bichard/Adam Pascoe have been in good form this season, Rudloff going unbeaten, including three wins over Mick Headland, in his last appearance.

Outsiders for a semi-final/final place could be Sam Harrison/Luke McGrath. A very good rider in his younger days, Harrison has made a return to racing this season after many seasons in retirement and reached the final of the Andrew Cleave/Dave Power Testimonial meeting at Undera in Victoria in October against a similar strength line-up to tonight.

Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning, Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy, Brian Silvy/Cameron White, Dean Hobbs/Glen Zaworski and Adon Pearce/Eli Bock make up the remainder of the field and while unlikely to trouble the top riders they will need to perform well to retain their places in round two ahead of the riders in tonight’s support events.

The Sidecars are supported by the leading local Solo riders, keeping in trim for the upcoming Gillman Championship, as well as some of the leading junior riders from NSW, Vic, SA and WA, including current Australian champions Jack and Adam Fewster from WA, competing for the Gillman Junior Sidecar Championship on the infield junior track.

Top photo: Mark Mitchell/Tony Carter (red) and Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr. Photo by Judy Mackay.