The question on a lot of people’s lips regarding this Sunday night’s meeting at Gillman Speedway is “can Darrin Treloar win his 7th Australian Sidecar Championship?”
“Of course he can” says Gillman Speedway manager David Parker, “but there will be fifteen other riders out there trying their hardest to make sure that does not happen.”
Treloar already holds the record for the most number of wins with six, one more than the retired Dennis Nash and Glenn O’Brien, and four more than the next best rider still riding, Mark Drew. And he’s been in good form this season with wins in the New South Wales and Queensland Championships, and a new track record at Gillman.
But for regular Adelaide spectators, another question they are asking is “can a South Australian rider win the championship?”
Gillman has been far-and-away the leading track for Sidecar racing in recent years but that hasn’t translated into national championship wins. It is actually an incredible 40 years since a South Australia rider last won at home – Neil Munro at Rowley Park in 1973 – and just as incredible only two riders have won away from home in that time, 22-year-old Riverland rider Ken I’Anson who scored an upset win over Dennis Nash at Claremont in 1977, and Mark Mitchell with an equally unexpected win over Darrin Treloar at Mildura in 2009.
Interesting though, the only other two South Australians (in addition to Mitchell) to stand on the podium in the last five years are the two seeded riders for Sunday night, Mick Headland (second in 2008) and Mark Plaisted (third in 2011).
And both have also been the only double winners of major events at Gillman this season – Headland winning the Blackchrome Spectacular and the Masters, and Plaisted winning the SA Championship and a Grand Slam round. The other major event winners were Jason Hardy (Gillman Championship) and Darrin Treloar (the other Grand Slam round).
To compete in an Australian Speedway Sidecar Championship all riders and passengers must first submit a nomination form to Motorcycling Australia, the controlling body of motorcycle sport in Australia. Once the nominations have been received the Speedway Commissioners of Motorcycling Australia then determine if a Qualification meeting will be held, and if so, how many, and who, will be seeded to the Championship meeting.
This year eight riders have been seeded to the Championship meeting and they were effectively the first and second placed home state riders in the Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Championships.
The seeded riders originally were Darrin Treloar/Simon Cohrs and Grant Bond/Glenn Cox (NSW), Warren Monson/Matt Morgan and Jason Bradshaw/Steve Behsmann (Vic), Scott Christopher/Tyler Moon and Brodie Cohen/Josh Sinnott (Qld) and Mick Headland/Paul Waters and Mark Plaisted/Sam Gilbert (SA), but Christopher withdrew last week (because of bike problems) and was replaced by Dylan Blain/Robert Gottardi.
The two NSW riders, Treloar and Bond have a massive 39 Australian Championship appearances between them and while, unlike Treloar, Bond hasn’t won the championship he has an impressive record with 18 appearances and 9 top six finishes. Remarkably his best finish was his most recent when he finished second to Treloar in the 2012 championship. The next day they paired together to win the Australian Teams Championship.
Warren Monson has been another successful rider this season and leads the Ikon Suspension Grand Slam Series points with one round remaining. The other three seeded riders, Brodie Cohen, Dylan Blain and Jason Bradshaw might have the same problem as some of the riders in Saturday night’s qualifying meeting, a lack of track time, although it doesn’t appear to have hampered 19 year old Queenslander Blain, who reached two State championship finals this season, the only rider apart from Treloar (who reached three) to do so.
The results of this season’s State Championships were: Queensland (Mackay, 15 December) Treloar/Cohrs, Cohen/Sinnott, Christopher/Moon, Blain/Gottardi (ret) Victorian (Mildura, 26 January) Monson/Morgan, Bradshaw/Behsmann, Byren Gates/Michael O’Loughlin, Neale Hancock/Brodie Gebhart (ret) South Australian (Gillman, 19 January) M. Plaisted/Gilbert, Treloar/Cohrs, M. Headland/Waters (exc, infield), Justin Plaisted/Sam Harrison (fell, exc) New South Wales (Tamworth, 16 February) Treloar/Cohrs, Blain/Gottardi, Malcolm German/Stephen Stagg, G. Bond/G. Cox.
See The Riders On Track For Free Spectators have the chance to see the Championship riders in action free of charge tonight (Thursday) when most will take part in a practice session at Gillman between 6pm and 9pm. The food canteens will not be opened but drinks will be available. Entry will only be through the Eastern (back) gate at the rear of the pits.
Full details of the championship meetings are on the Gillman website under the news story “Gillman Speedway K Trans Australian Sidecar Championship Details” posted on Monday, 18 March.
South Australia's two seeded riders in action at the last Gillman Speedway meeting on 16 March, Mark Plaisted-Sam Gilbert (red) and Mick Headland-Paul Waters (white). Photo by Judy Mackay.