Image Credit: George Taylor

Max in Control

NEWS Tuesday 8th January 2019, 3:36am

by Howard Williams

The speedway caravan continued its travels to the Undera Park track on Monday 7th January to contest the third round of the 2019 Australian titles.

When the dust settled at the conclusion of the meeting It was becoming glaringly obvious the title race is becoming a contest between three with yet again the three main candidates in Max Fricke, Chris Holder, and Rohan Tungate all making the main final to pull further away in points from the rest of the field. This time it was the impressive Fricke taking the lions share of the spoils for the second time in three rounds with a superb gate from the inside in the final to narrowly hold off a determined Chris Holder, with Jaimon Lidsey occupying third. Unfortunately for Rohan Tungate he fell in the first running of the final while trying an outside move to improve his position and failed the record any bonus points from the final.

Tungate had been forced into the cut throat semi final after losing out on a three way count back featuring Lidsey and Nick Morris. Making up the B final was Jack Holder with a much improved Justin Sedgmen. The running of the semi final had not been uneventful with an after race discussion between Tungate and Jack Holder after Holder had been less than overjoyed with Tungates choice of riding line when Holder was looking at an outside move. Justin had drawn the extremely tough gate four and couldn't do a lot from there.

Justin's night had kicked off well with a second behind Jaimon Lidsey when Lidsey had been too strong from inside Sedgmen and despite being close all race nothing that Justin could do made an impact so a useful two points recorded. To be totally honest I don't think even the most ardent Monarchs supporter could have predicted the result of Justin's next ride with him being drawn on the extreme outside against Tungate, Jack Holder, and Jordan Stewart. Sedgmen then proceeded to surprise the other riders, me, the entire crowd, and probably himself with a brilliant blast round the outside to take the lead and record a solid win. A real jaw dropper and one of those races that will live long in the memory. Three points really didn't do it justice but that's all the scoring allowed so a total of five points thus far and his first smile of the series.

Alas the magic didn't extend to Sedgmens next ride with the extremely daunting trio of Fricke, Chris Holder, and Sam Masters riding out to join him with the first two in red hot form and Masters no slouch either as Monarchs fans will know. From gate two Justin got "delayed in traffic" in the tight contest battling for turn one and there was no coming back from that and he languished in fourth all race unable to do enough to threaten Masters for third. If there was a blessing in disguise to be had it was that Justin had now cleared his rides against the majority of the big guns and a few of the riders in the bottom half of the field were still to come in the heats ahead.

Ride number four of the night saw a return to normal service with a solid gate and lead all the way ride to head Brady Kurtz, Ryan Douglas, and Todd Kurtz home and again score the maximum points on offer. It was a relatively boring race but sometimes boring is quite acceptable if your man is out in front.

The last scheduled heat ride of the night saw Sedgmen again line up in gate four with Nick Morris alongside him with both being in the mix for the semi final and Morris riding better than in previous rounds. From the start Morris and Sedgmen gated together and there was no way round Morris. In the meantime Zane Keleher had made a fast start from gate one and when they entered the back straight Justin found himself in third and despite his best efforts he couldn't advance his cause so another point of the scorechart and a much better nine points in total which saw him into the cut throat semi final. The bad news was with the luck of the draw he had again found himself in gate four for the third time on the night and again being handed a tough assignment. "Tough" was a bit of an understatement with Tungate and Jack Holder engaging in a two man war and no safe way past for either Nick Morris or Justin even if they were in striking range so no progression to the big final but a far more satisfying meeting.

So we head to Albury in two days time with the Sedgmen ship having been righted somewhat with a confidence building meeting after the relative disappointment of the first two rounds. Edinburgh pulse rates can settle down a bit now and it would have pleased the Monarchs faithful to see Justin give a virtual (not real I hasten to add) two fingered salute to his doubters after his stunning second ride.

At the top of the tree after three with two to go.

48 Fricke, 45 Chris Holder, 41 Tungate, 31 Jack Holder, 29 Brady Kurtz, 29 Sam Masters