Josh in gate 1 under starters orders Image Credit: Australian Championship Facebook

Australian Championship 2020: Round 3

NEWS Wednesday 8th January 2020, 7:08am

by Howard Williams

Former Monarch Max Fricke put himself in prime position to defend his Australian Championship with another quality performance to win the third round of the 2020 series held at Undera Park.

For the second night in a row the riders were greeted by an excellent track which led to another entertaining meeting with the only two falls both a result of first bend bunching with all four back. Max now has a handy buffer of six points over Rohan Tungate and Jaimon Lidsey to take with him to the next round at Mildura in two days time.

Unlike the previous night at Albury Wodonga the final had been a clear cut victory with Fricke a clear leader all the way. All the fun was happening behind Max with Tungate having settled in second only to have Brady Kurtz shoot up the inside to push Rohan back to third and Kurtz held second to the chequered flag.

Meanwhile Chris Holder was lurking and waiting for a gap he could use but with Brady and Rohan going at it hammer and tong vying for second and inadvertently team riding Chris out of it there was no extra points to be added to the Holder scorecard.

Semi final one saw Fricke (13), Jaimon Lidsey (13), Sam Masters (9), and Chris Holder (12) line up to do battle. Fricke got the gate of the decade out of red and was a clear two bike lengths to the good when he hit turn one which removed the possibility of being swamped from riders outside him and he was away.

Again the fun was behind Max with the other three in close proximity going down the back straight before Lidsey lifted slightly allowing Holder to set sail in pursuit of Fricke. Holder did a great job of chasing and was not far behind Fricke at the end of the race.

Lidsey was bitterly disappointed with his third place and as he cross the line his head went back and then immediately forward and it seemed as if he had uttered a rather naughty expletive to himself to indicate his displeasure at his performance. Again Sam reaching the semi was a plus but not progressing wasn't on his radar but to be fair he was out of gate three and up against a quality trio.

Semi final two featured Tungate (13), Kurtz (11), Zach Cook (8), and Jack Holder (11). Tungate gated well with Kurtz in hot pursuit. Brady loomed up on the outside of turn three the first time around but Rohan repelled that challenge and then rode away and won quite comfortably.

All eyes were concentrated on the battle for second with Jack Holder trying everything he knew to get the better of Kurtz but it wasn't to be and Kurtz progressed with Jack repeating the Lidsey "head back, head forward, utter expletive to himself" gesture.

On to the Monarchs who finished near enough to the same places they achieved at Albury. The Sam Masters scorecard started off sluggishly with only three points after three rides, but the Masters camp wasn't pushing the panic button because Sam had cleared all his rides against the top contenders and his easier rides on paper were ahead.

Even so, one slip up in his last two rides and it was going to be touch and go to qualify for the semi finals. No problem though and two wins put Sam safely through. Again disappointment lay ahead and Sam's inability to steal points off the top contenders was hurting him a little and giving him one of the last gate picks in the semi's.

Josh Pickering went the other way. After seven points from his first three rides Josh looked on course to make the finals but rides against the likes of Lidsey, Chris Holder, Kurtz and Fricke lay ahead. If Josh could pick up a point or two against Justin Sedgmen or Zach Cook he looked likely to be safe so no need to press the panic button just yet.

However, Josh would have been bitterly disappointed to record two last places to stay on seven points and miss out going forward by one point.

Fricke was just continuing on his merry way. For the benefit of those who missed his last to first ride at Albury he repeated the effort in his fourth ride although this time rather than picking off riders one by one he tried it in one swoop up the inside entering turn three on lap one.

He nearly did it and only managed second. It didn't really matter though, by the start of lap two he was in the lead and business as usual after that. Then in his final heat ride Max and Rohan Tungate were swapping the lead for fun before Max eventually won. Both seemed to enjoy the experience as evidenced by the congratulations they gave each other as they left the track

The other Ex Monarch In the field Justin Sedgmen was also a near carbon copy of Albury with one more point than the previous night to total five in all. Again his best ride of the night came when he held off Jordan Stewart. There must be something special about racing against his fellow Milduran that brings out the best in Justin.

Top six after two rounds

Fricke - 37

Lidsey - 31

Tungate - 31

Jack Holder - 25

Chris Holder -25

Kurtz -25