Riders from SA, WA, Vic, ACT and Qld took part in the annual Gillman Classic Speedway Championship meeting on Saturday night, 27 October.
The JAP/ESO Solo class, for riders over 50, saw two new riders to the Gillman meeting in former North Arm rider Peter Collins, and former Renmark Speedway rider Ian Vallis. As expected both reached the final along with regular finalists, Barry Kennington, from WA, and the ACT’s Ken Carratt. Collins was unbeaten in the heats, but in the final he lost the start to Kennington, and then seemed to take it warily on the freshly watered track, whereas Kennington raced away. Collins closed on him over the last two laps but Kennington, after finishing as runner-up for the past three years, held on for a narrow win. Vallis finished third and Carratt fourth.
After two years as runner-up, after a hat-trick of wins in 2007, 08 and 09, North Queenslander Roy Stout was unchallenged to return to the winner’s circle in the 2 valve Solo class. Kevin Webb (WA) finished second, and Kerry Marsh third after a close race with Ivan Clothier who held third until he fell on the third lap.
The Evolution, or four valve Solo class easily provided the most exciting Solo racing of the night with some close racing between teenagers Robert Medson and Luke Mitchell, and not far behind them Gary Fischer and Tom Jones. Unfortunately Mitchell made a bad start in the final which allowed Medson to clear out and win easily from Mitchell, Fischer and Jones. Fischer, who was one of the first group of junior speedway riders back in the late 1970s, showed enough to suggest he’d be competitive in current-day second division racing at Gillman.
The highlight of the night for many was the British/European Sidecars. They are always already a favourite with many before the racing even starts because of the noise they make, but last night they also provided the best racing of the night, with most of the riders looking likely winners at various times during the heats. Unfortunately after some thrilling racing in the heats, the final was a complete fizzer. Bike troubles meant only two fronted the starter, Jim Irwin/Jesse Irwin and Tony West/Robert Brown, and Irwin cleared off to win by half-a-lap as West just idled around.
Moz Pridham/Graham Williams, in the Japanese Sidecar class, were the only defending champions riding and were aiming for their third successive win. There seemed no doubt they would win during the heats. They were a minimum of two seconds faster than anyone else, but after twelve virtually faultless laps in the heats, it almost fell apart in the final. Firstly they made a slow start and had to fight their way through to the lead, then the bike started to sound rough, and for the first time all night they got out of shape a couple of times and were very lucky not to run infield. But in the end they got the win they deserved with Tim Bichard/Dale Knights second and Ash. Needham/Jamie Knudsen third. Dale Milner/Nick O’Brien ran off the track while battling with Needham for third place.
The closest finish in the finals was in the Post Classic Sidecar class. Jim Irwin/Rick Schonfeldt looked to be the winners after they were unbeaten in the heats, and then set up a good early lead in the final. But as the race went on Irwin tired and Dale Milner/Nick O’Brien got closer and closer until they finally edged under Irwin in turn three on the last lap. Irwin came back at Milner through the last turn and they raced to the line side-by-side but Milner got home first by the narrowest of margins. In another close finish Lee Banks/Damien Egan held out Clinton Crabb/Rick Smith for third place.
As well as the two and three wheel classes the Three Quarter Midgets gave four demonstration runs.
A fault with the software means we have been unable to load the results onto the Gillman website. They will be loaded as soon as the fault is rectified.
British Sidecar action, from the left, Kym Trenorden/Jesse Irwin (red), Moz Pridham/Graham Williams (blue), Tony West/Robert Brown (yellow). Photo Judy Mackay.