AUSTRALIA, VICTORIA, SHEPPARTON. Rohan Tungate last night extended his lead in the Australian Solo Championship with victory in the final at his previous “hoodoo” track, Undera Park in Victoria.
Tungate had never reached the final in five previous attempts at Undera, but went to the track relatively confident, saying “It hasn’t been my best place, but I am due for a good one there. I am in good form. When you’re racing well, you can ride well anywhere.”
If he wasn’t already, Tungate must now be the favourite to clinch the title, his first, at Gillman Speedway on Sunday night.
He said: “It’s possible. I am in a good position, and that’s what I really want. It’s what I’m in the Australian series for, so we’ll just keep plugging away and go for it. I just have to take it race by race and keep doing what I am doing. There’s nothing I have to panic about. I just have to enjoy what I am doing and keep it simple. Hopefully, it will work out well.”
Tungate started round 2 at Undera with a loss to Jack Holder in his first ride, but had a confidence-boosting win over the second and third placed riders in the series, Josh Pickering and Max Fricke, in his second ride, and then won his next two rides before going down to Brady Kurtz in heat 20 which was a preview of the final with the top three scorers on the night, Kurtz, Sam Masters and Tungate meeting.
All three had already qualified for the final after only four rides, but Series points were on the line and Kurtz continued what had been an unbeaten run to that stage by winning from Tungate and Masters.
A countback was needed to decide the starters in the semi-final with Max Fricke (11 points) and Jordan Stewart (9) joined by Matthew Gilmore (8) and Jack Holder (8), with Mason Campton and Jye Etheridge, both also with 8 points, missing out.
Round 1 star Josh Pickering was further down the scorecard on 6 points after suffering two infield exclusions which may ultimately cost him an overall top 4 finish.
After just scraping into the Semi-Final, Jack Holder beat Fricke for the other place in the final and gained a vital two points by finishing third behind Tungate and Masters.
The maximum man from the heats, Brady Kurtz, was excluded from the final for bringing down Holder in the first attempt to run the race and for the second time he has reached the final but failed to collect any bonus points. He now has the unusual record of 12 rides for 9 wins, a retirement, a fall and an exclusion. He is still in second place overall, however, so those slip-ups in the two finals might be the difference between winning and losing the title, which he won in his first attempt in 2016.
Series points after two rounds: Rohan Tungate 35, Brady Kurtz 27, Max Fricke 26, Sam Masters 23, Josh Pickering 20, Jack Holder 19, Mason Campton 18, Jordan Stewart 16, Jaimon Lidsey 15, Matthew Gilmore 14, Jye Etheridge 13, Cooper Riordan 9, Robert Medson 9, Joel Coyne 6, Declan Knowles 5, James Davies 3, Matthew Pickering (reserve) 0.
Round three is at Olympic Park Speedway in Mildura on Friday night and the fourth and deciding round is at Gillman Speedway in Adelaide on Sunday. Gates open at Gillman at 3 pm and racing starts at 7.30pm, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a pleasant maximum of 25 degrees.