AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, ADELAIDE. The 2018 Australian Speedway 500cc Solo Motorcycle Champion will be crowned this SUNDAY night (14 January) at Adelaide’s Gillman Speedway.
The Championship is being run over four rounds, in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and the Gillman meeting, presented by CBS Bins, will be the fourth and deciding round.
With only one round completed it is too early to single out any rider as a favourite but this season’s from rider, Rohan Tungate, has continued his impressive start to the season by winning the first round, and holds a three-point lead going into tonight’s second round at Undera Park Speedway in Victoria.
Tungate’s summer started in spectacular style when he took two reserve’s rides for two wins against some of the Word’s best riders in the Australian Speedway Grand Prix (World Championship) at Etihad Stadium at the end of October and has just rolled on ever since, winning every meeting he has contested – the Jack Young Cup at Gillman, Phil Crump Trophy at Mildura, NSW Championship and Jason Crump Trophy at Kurri – before winning the first round of the national championship at Kurri last Saturday night.
So Tungate is the rider to beat at the moment but surprisingly he does not have a good record at Undera which hosts round 2 tonight. In five previous rounds at Undera he has never reached the final, and has only reached the semi-final twice, whereas defending champion Sam Masters (who had a poor meeting in round 1) has been on the rostrum in each of the last three rounds, and second-placed Max Fricke has been in two of the last three finals.
It is a similar story at Mildura where Tungate has never been a finalist (in Australian Championship rounds) but Masters and Fricke have been finalists in the last two seasons.
Tungate does, however, have a good record at Gillman where, as well as the Jack Young Cup in November, he has won a round of the national championship and the SA championship, so a lot will hinge on how he can go on the two Victorian tracks over the next three nights.
If he can reach the final tonight and Friday night he’ll go into the final round at Gillman next Sunday brim full of confidence – but slip up tonight or at Mildura and former World Under 21 Champion Fricke (second) and former Australian Champion Brady Kurtz (fourth) in particular will be ready to take advantage.
The Championship points after the first round are: Rohan Tungate 18, Max Fricke 15, Josh Pickering 14, Brady Kurtz 12, Jaimon Lidsey 11, Mason Campton 10, Jack Holder 9, Sam Masters 7, Jordan Stewart 7, Matthew Gilmore 6, Robert Medson 5, Jye Etheridge 5, Joel Coyne 4, Cooper Riordan 3, Declan Knowles 2, James Davies 1, Matt Pickering (res) 0, Ben Cook (res) 0.
The series points will be updated on the Gillman Speedway website on Wednesday night after the second round at Undera, and Friday night after the third round at Mildura.
Some of Australia’s leading Sidecar riders will also compete at Gillman on Sunday night, including current Australian Champions Trent Headland/Darryl Whetstone, current Australia #2 Andrew Buchanan/Denny Cox, former Australian Champion Mark Mitchell/Dale Knights, Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin and Damien Niesche/Mitchell Spear.
Photo: Current series leaders Rohan Tungate and Max Fricke riding at Bell Vue Speedway in Manchester, England. Photo: Ian Charles.