Speedway

2010 Gillman Classic Championship provieds a night of action

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Despite bitterly cold weather, South Australia's Gillman Speedway provided another mix of nostalgia and exciting racing for both competitors and spectators alike at the annual Gillman Classic Championship meeting on 30 October.

This year saw the return of a lot of the regulars, like the WA riders Kevin Webb, Barry Kennington and Jim Phillips, Canberra's Ken Carratt and Townsville Roy Stout, along with some riders making their first appearances including 1970's North Queensland Solo star Merv Janke, and former Sidecar stars David Adams, Peter Menz and Chris Fraser, and the trophies were evenly spread amongst the old and the new riders.

The rider who caught the eye early was Merv Janke, who was very quick and looked completely at ease on the well-prepared track in his first Gillman appearance. Janke, who was a week short of his 54th birthday, rode in the British League between 1977 and 1982, and his class showed as he went through the 2 Valve Solo class unbeaten, depriving fellow North Queensland rider Roy Stout, of a fourth consecutive title. Stout finished second after a close race with Kevin Webb, while Mark Mitchell was also in the mix and finished a close fourth.

Janke found the going slightly tougher in the 4 Valve class, however, where he was up against the another former British League rider, with a 22 year age advantage, in Nigel Sadler, and current-day rider Ben Turner. Janke won his first two heats, the first courtesy of a bike problem for Sadler, but then crashed heavily into the fence, fortunately without suffering any serious injury, when attempting an outside pass on Turner in his third heat. In the final Sadler led all the way to successfully defend his title, with Turner holding out Janke for second place, with 16-year-old Luke Mitchell, in his first senior meeting, finishing fourth.

The other Solo class was the JAP/ESO class for riders over 50, and once again 1970's Rowley Park rider Jeff Fisher won after an extremely close race with Western Australia's Barry Kennington. These two are getting closer each year and after being side-by-side with a lap to go, Fisher got home by five metres, with the other regular finalists, Ken Carratt and Jim Phillips, third and fourth respectively.

The first of the Sidecar Championships up for grabs was the British/European class and when Clint Curran/Chris Walker on the Vipond Vincent took the lead and Jim Irwin/Rick Schonfeldt (Triumph 750) were last away from the tapes, the trophy looked destined to head back to Victoria, but Irwin fought his way through the field and took the lead with just over a lap to go, and won pulling away from Curran, with Moz Pridham/Graham Williams (BSA/JAP) third and Dale Milner/Nick O'Brien (Harley twin) fourth.

Defending champion Ken Walker/Jim Walker restricted their riding to demonstration runs on the Cottrell Garage Team Vincents this year, going out on the ex-Cottrell, ex-Len Bowes and ex-Neil Munro bikes during the night.

The Japanese Sidecar Championship saw an unbeaten run by Moz Pridham/Graham Williams (Honda 750) who won the final ahead of Tim Bichard/Adam Pfitzner (Suzuki 750), Graham Rowley/Terry Hutchinson (Suzuki 500) and Graham Thomson/Shayne Thomson (Honda 750). Victoria's Ian Treloar/Allan Blizzard (Honda 750) won all three of their heats, but suffered two exclusions, to suggest they may have been a threat if they had made the final, although their times were generally slightly slower than Pridham's and Rowley's.

The Post Classic (non-championship) Sidecar class saw a closely fought final between two of the stars of the late Rowley Park, early Speedway City era, David Adams and Peter Menz, with Adams/Dale Grigg (Suzuki 1000) winning from Peter Menz/Andrew Menz (Suzuki 1000) and Ricky Curran/Chris Walker (Kawasaki 1000) in a wheel-to-wheel finish. Current day rider Michael Hoogland/Michael Bell (Kawasaki 1000) finished fourth.

Although there was a 54 event programme, the meeting was on track to finish at the normal 10.30 pm time, until a spectacular crash by Robert Doyle/Tony Kester in the last of the post classic Sidecar heat races (event 47) which resulted in a 40 minute delay while both competitors were attended to by St. John's Ambulance officers, with Kester taken to hospital with a broken leg

The Classic TQs also had three demonstration runs, and the meeting doubled as a tribute meeting to former Sidecar rider and restorer David Cottrell who passed away in June.

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