Troy Batchelor won the first round of the 2013 Australian Solo Championship at Gillman Speedway on Saturday night after a thrilling final which saw Batchelor, Jason Doyle and Rohan Tungate three wide and exchanging the first three places for two laps before Batchelor edged ahead.
Doyle was the top scorer in the heats with 14 from four wins and then a second to Alex Davies in his last ride when two points was still enough to leave him as the top scorer and entitled to first choice of gate positions in the final.
Batchelor was a point behind him on 13, beaten by Doyle in heat 9 and Tungate in heat 13, in which Batchelor, Tungate and Cameron Woodward continually exchanged positions over the last two laps.
Behind the top two in was real bottleneck for the final direct qualification place in the final, and the four berths in the semi-final.
Going into the last four heats, Tungate and Justin Sedgmen were on 8, Woodward was on 7, and Dakota North, Micky Dyer, David Watt, Mark Lemon and Josh Grajczonek were all on six.
Nothing which had gone on earlier gave any clue to which of these riders were the most likely to qualify, and the remaining riders all looked capable of taking points off any of these riders in the vital four heats, which several did.
The first to come to the tapes was Lemon in heat 17, against Batchelor, Tyron Proctor (3pts) and Adam Shields (3) and he was the first to be eliminated, finishing last behind Batchelor, Proctor, Shields to remain on 6 points.
Sedgmen and Tungate met in heat 18 with a win to either guaranteeing him of a place in the final, but they were left fighting for the third place point as Alex Davies (4) roared away to win easily from Doyle. Tungate got the vital third place point which was to ultimately put him into the final – with just 9 points, showing the closeness of the meeting.
North, Woodward and Watt met in heat 19, along with Sam Masters (5) and they finished in that order which saw Watt (7) eliminated.
Points were now Tungate 9, North 9, Woodward 9 and Sedgmen 8, with Dyer and Grajczonek in heat 20 along with Cameron Heeps (2) and Kozza Smith (4). Dyer cleared out to an early lead but reared up and hit the fence at the end of the first lap which allowed Smith to take the lead only to then break a chain, handing the lead back to Dyer. That win put him on 9 points also, while third place behind Heeps saw Grajczonek (7pts) eliminated.
The countback saw Tungate go straight into the final, and North, Dyer, Woodward and Sedgmen into the semi-final, which saw Dyer cap a very good night with a surprisingly easy win and a place in the final. A terrific effort when you consider he only qualified for the meeting on a countback ahead of Mason Campton, and had Campton not lifted, and consequently dropped a point, in the last few metres of their heat 11 clash on qualifying night, Dyer would not have even been in the meeting.
Gate positions for the final were Doyle in red, Batchelor blue, Dyer white and Tungate yellow. Batchelor was the best from the tapes and took a narrow lead into the first corner but Doyle pushed him out and Dyer and Tungate raced under them to push to the two race favourites into third and fourth places. From that point Tungate, Doyle and Batchelor continually exchanged places and were often three wide. Doyle held the lead at the end of the second lap but Batchelor came under him in turn two on the third lap and thereafter the placings were unchanged with Batchelor taking the win from Doyle, Tungate and Dyer.
The Championship now moves on to Undera Park Speedway in Victoria (Wednesday, 9 January) which is a completely different size and shape to Gillman (smaller and tighter) so the make-up of the final could be very different which can only be good for the Championship, and for Loxford Park Speedway (Kurri Kurri, New South Wales) which hosts the third and final round next Saturday night (12 January).
Heat Points: Jason Doyle 14 (3-3-3-3-2) Troy Batchelor 13 (3-3-2-2-3) Rohan Tungate 9 (1-3-1-3-1) Dakota North 9 (1-1-3-1-3) Micky Dyer 9 (2-2-2-0-3) Cameron Woodward 9 (3-2-1-1-2) Justin Sedgmen 8 (2-0-3-3-0) Alex Davies 7 (0-R-1-3-3) David Watt 7 (3-2-1-0-1) Josh Grajczonek 7 (2-2-0-2-1) Mark Lemon 6 (1-3-0-2-0) Sam Masters 5 (T-1-3-1-0) Tyron Proctor 5 (2-F-0-1-2) Kozza Smith 4 (0-0-2-2-R) Adam Shields 4 (0-1-2-0-1) Cameron Heeps 4 (1-1-0-0-2) Mason Campton (reserve) 0 (0) Todd Kurtz (reserve) did not ride