After they an interrupted start to the season with bike problems, normal service was resumed at Gillman Speedway last night when Darrin Treloar/Jesse Headland streeted the opposition to go through the Sidecar Super Series Eagle Fuels Round 2 unbeaten, but round one winners Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear did enough to retain the overall series lead.
Going into last night’s round Niesche/Spear were leading the series points with 16, ahead of Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris 15, Sam Harrison/Luke McGrath 14 and Neale Hancock/Brendan Johnson 11 and all except Hancock continued their form from the previous round in the opening heats, with Harrison and Rudloff winning the opening two heats and Niesche finished second to Treloar in heat 4, which wouldn’t affect the points as everyone else would get beaten by Treloar as well. Hancock, however, was excluded for touching the tapes in heat 4.
That could have been the start of a bad night, but instead it was the only time he dropped any points until the final.
Hancock was actually out in the next heat and beat Warren Monson/Andrew Summerhayes, and Niesche won his heat, but Harrison and Rudloff both dropped points. Rudloff was beaten by an on-song Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr but Harrison lost a fist full of points when he finished fourth behind Treloar, Brodie Cohen/Damian Egan and Nathan Fleet/Ayrton Canning after a first bend collision with Cohen saw Harrison knocked off balance and slow to regain control.
Niesche then beat Headland in heat 9, Harrison won heat 10, Treloar heat 11, and Hancock heat 12, after a side-by-side race with Cohen, but Rudloff was the loser this time out. He was a seemingly safe second behind Hancock when he half-spun on the third lap and was hit by the following Cohen, which dislodged Rudloff’s passenger Scott Morris earning Rudloff an exclusion.
Had he finished in second he would have been on 7 points and looking safe for a semi-final berth, but instead he was on 5 and looking in danger of missing out. Treloar was leading the way, the only unbeaten rider on 9, but Niesche was on 8 and had increased his overall lead on his closest challengers as Harrison and Hancock were both on 6, along with Monson, Cohen and Headland.
Rudloff dropped a further point, to Treloar, in the first heat of the fourth round, and then Harrison, Hancock and Headland came together for one of the races of the night in heat 14. Harrison was the early leader but was passed by both Hancock and Headland on the second lap. Headland and Harrison then continued to exchange places until a collision on the last lap brought the red lights on. Headland was in second place at the time but got slightly out of shape and was hit by Harrison and Kerr fell. Headland was excluded and the race awarded to Hancock, with Harrison second. The next heat was another close one with a mildly surprising result with Cohen getting the better of Niesche. It was surprising only in the sense that Niesche was the series leader, because Cohen has ridden well in both Super Series meetings so far and has looked capable of beating any of the opposition, apart from Treloar.
No sooner, however, had Cohen beaten Niesche, then Aaron Silvy/Jaron Silvy pulled off the upset of the series so far by beating Cohen in heat 17. It was a point Cohen would not have wanted to drop but ultimately it wasn’t too costly as even with the extra point he would have lost a countback for direct qualification to the final.
The next heat, 18, was the most anticipated of the night with the three series leaders from round one, Niesche, Rudloff and Harrison drawn together, along with Monson, and it was Monson who took the win ahead of Niesche, Harrison and Rudloff. Unlike Cohen in the previous heat, this was a point Niesche could not afford to drop as, even though he scored 12 points, the same as in round1, it allowed Monson to beat him on a countback for the third qualifying place in the final, behind Treloar on 15, and Hancock, who after his first up tape break won his remaining four rides to also finish on 12 with Monson and Niesche.
So only a semi-final berth for Niesche where he was joined by Cohen on 11, Harrison on 9, and a thankful Rudloff who managed to qualify despite only scoring 7 points. His cause was helped greatly by a second exclusion for Headland in heat 20. After a close race between Headland, Shane Hudson/Jackson Gilbert-Dunn and Tim Bichard/Steve Graetz for second place behind Treloar, Headland finished second which should have taken him to 8 points and a semi-final berth but he was excluded for going infield early in the race.
Niesche would have been ruing having to go through the semi-final but all looked well when Cohen and Harrison collided in turn one and both slowed which allowed Niesche to make a break with Rudloff in second place. Surprisingly, however, Niesche got out of shape on the second lap and was passed by Rudloff and then pulled infield at the end of the lap, leaving Rudloff to go on to a clear win from a fast-finishing Harrison.
The final was all Treloar but there was a good race for second between Hancock and Rudloff who were side-by-side for a couple of laps before Hancock edged ahead. Monson had earlier been excluded when he spun while holding second place, which forced Rudloff off the track and caused a race stoppage.
The leading scorers going into the final round on 23 February are now Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear 28, Neale Hancock/Brendan Johnson (Vic) 26, Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris 24, Sam Harrison/Luke McGrath 23, Brodie Cohen/Damian Egan (Qld/SA) 21, Darrin Treloar/Jesse Headland (NSW/SA) 19, Warren Monson/Andrew Summerhayes (Vic) 18, Mick Headland/Brenton Kerr (SA/Vic) 16.
In the support events, Chris Bichard/Michael Bell and Andrew Gault/Adam Constable had some close races with Bichard coming out on top two wins to one before dropping out of his last two races, and, as he did last meeting against Robert Medson, Dakota Ballantyne won four races to Brayden McGuinness’ two in the Solo events.
Full results of round 2 can be found under the results tab on the Gillman Speedway website.
The next meeting is the Eagle Fuels Gillman Solo and Sidecar Championships on 9 February.
Top photo: Meeting winners Darrin Treloar/Jesse Headland. Photo by Judy Mackay.