NEWS Sunday 12th January 2020, 8:00am
Max Fricke not unexpectedly comfortably cruised to his second Australian title in a row by finishing second in the final round at Gillman.
Despite the ease of his victory there was lots of interest in who grabbed the top four places to also gain a place in the GP qualifiers and in the final wash up the series score chart showed that trailing Fricke (71) were the winner of the Gillman round Jack Holder (62), Rohan Tungate (59), and Chris Holder (57). The unlucky rider to narrowly miss out was Jaimon Lidsey (55) but there is little doubt that his turn will come in the not too distant future.
On to the details of the Gillman round. The semi finals were a superb build up to the climax of the final. The first semi final would have brought smiles to the faces of any Monarchs fans present. Lining up to do battle were Jack Holder (14), Chris Holder (12), Brady Kurtz (10), and Josh Pickering (11). Jack Holder from gate one gated and was gone with brother Chris from gate two immediately tucking in behind Jack and it looked to many like a Holder quinella coming up. Someone forgot to tell Pickering though. He was soon in the back wheel of the elder Holder and I was getting ready to type "brave effort by Pickering but to no avail". Pickering wasn't following what most people thought was the script though and he then proceeded to blast round the outside of Chris to grab second and hold it to the finish. The audacity of the move I think caught Holder by surprise and he was unable to counter the Pickering manoeuvre. Jack and Josh through to the final and a disappointed Chris Holder missing out.
The second semi final defies words. I keep attempting to adequately describe what Fricke does on a bike but it's not easy. The line up consisted of Rohan Tungate (13), Lidsey(11) Fricke (11), and Sam Masters (8). Tungate was best away from gate one with Fricke behind him and Lidsey trailing in third. By the end of lap one Lidsey was inches behind Fricke and then dived up the inside to relegate Max to third. "Would Max miss the main final ?" was the question that sprang to mind but that was very quickly answered with a resounding "No" as it was then Frickes turn to dive up the inside of Lidsey. Not content to sit back and consolidate in second Fricke then hunted down Tungate and for good measure dived up his inside too to take the lead. Tungate wasn't done and tried an "all or nothing" move round the last bend but ran too wide and Fricke was safe. Lidsey was bitterly disappointed with third and at some point Masters had retired. If not for the Fricke heroics of the final at Mildura it would have been the race of the series. I'm starting to think Max pulls these rides out of his hat just for fun and to amuse himself.
The final was an a bit of an anticlimax after the excitement of the semi finals. Jack Holder had easily been the best rider on the night and he gated and was gone. Despite Frickes best efforts Holder was uncatchable so the end result was Holder, Fricke, Tungate, and Pickering. Josh had found the competition in the final rather good but he would have been delighted with the result of his nights work. Nobody begrudged Jack Holder the win as he had been easily the best rider on show at Gillman.
In the heats Pickering had been incredibly consistent in amassing his 11 points with four second placings which were considerably enhanced by a third ride heat win where Josh headed home Fricke after Max had made a slight error and the closely following Pickering had taken full advantage.
Sam Masters night seemed to sum up his entire series. Handily placed on eight points after four rides which included two heat wins Sam then retired from his final heat ride but still had enough points to scrape into the semi finals. Again this pushed him well down the pecking order for choice of gates and he was stuck out wide in his semi. Not that it mattered much with Masters eventually retiring from the race.
In the overall standings at the end of the series it was neck and neck between the two Monarchs to see who would get bragging rights as to being the higher placed finisher. In the end Pickering's semi final heroics were just enough to lift him above his team mate in seventh place on 38 with Sam one point adrift on 37 points. Some good thoughts for Josh to take with him on his return to Armadale !!