NEWS Sunday 6th January 2019, 9:33am
It was a resurgent Chris Holder that stamped his authority on the second round of the Australian Championship at Mildura to record an impressive win much to the delight of the crowd.
Those in attendance witnessed some vintage Holder as he headed home Rohan Tungate and Max Fricke in an identical top three albeit in a different order to Gillman. From early on in the meeting you sensed Holder had the demeanour of someone who badly wanted to win and apart from a slight glitch when he lined up in gate four but found a fast starting Jaimon Lidsey from gate one a little too sharp it was a sublime performance from the 2012 World Champion.
Holder was top qualifier on 14 with the other automatic finalists Tungate (11) and Fricke (11) both having mid meeting setbacks with Tungate last in a very tough heat against the two Holders plus Brady Kurtz, and Fricke breaking a primary chain and not leaving the starting line in what looked like one of his easier rides. Rounding out the finalists and finishing fourth was the winner of the semi final Brady Kurtz (11). The other combatants in the minor final were Jack Holder, Sam Masters, and Ryan Douglas who had all qualified on ten points and needed a three way count back to determine the gate choices. As it was at Gillman it was a battle for points with no easy races for anyone and one minor slip up generally caused at least one lost point.
Some far more encouraging news on the 2019 Monarchs team member with Justin Sedgmen putting himself much more in the mix and getting in amongst it. His body language seemed far more positive to me than two nights earlier at Gillman. The downside was Sedgmen seemed to be down on top end speed and dropped some valuable points through not being able to hold off following riders.
Justin's first ride saw a superb gate from the extreme outside to lead Rohan Tungate on the early laps only to have Tungate blast by him to take the win. He was not the first and won't be the last rider to get overhauled by Tungate this series so two points on the scorechart wasn't a total disaster. Sedgmen's second ride out of white saw him settle in second behind a fast starting red helmeted Jaimon Lidsey with Chris Holder close behind. Again Justin found the following rider a bit too sharp but as mentioned earlier Holder was in no mood to take any prisoners so a third place put another point on to Justin's score.
It was a similar tale of woe in Sedgmens third ride where he again gated in the lead and again suffered the disappointment of being passed by Ryan Douglas and it was about now the lack of top end speed was becoming glaringly obvious and it must be heartbreaking for Justin to get into a good position and not be able to consolidate it due to a non human issue. However, life is not always fair so two more points on the board for a total of five so far and Justin was still in with a sniff of the semi final with an ounce of luck.
Good news was not forthcoming though as Sedgmen didn't get the best of starts in his fourth ride and found himself in third on settling behind the two Kurtz boys. It became a strung out lack lustre race and towards the end of the race when it was largely a foregone conclusion Ben Cook eased on by meaning it was a zero point ride. If Justin was looking for an easy ride in his last heat to get a late scoring boost he didn't find one. Fricke, Masters and Jack Holder is about as tough an assignment as it gets on paper and it proved to be that way on shale too with another last placing and a total of five points all up.
After the disappointment of Gillman the Mildura round has now given Justin something to build on for the following three rounds but I would imagine he would be looking for some quality workshop time in the next day or two to try and coax some more top end speed out of his machinery. The other 2019 Monarch Josh Pickering only saw track time during the pre meeting practice and he wouldn't have enjoyed being a spectator all night long.
We reconvene in two days time at Undera with the top three in the series placings having built a hefty lead over the others and it would be a brave man to bet on the series winner not coming from the top three.
The top eight after two rounds
Equal 1st 30 - C. Holder, Fricke, Tungate, 4th 21 - J. Holder, Equal 5th 20 Masters, B. Kurtz, 7th 17 - Stewart, 8th 16 - Douglas