Tamworth is best known for its iconic country music festival, but this week it will be the epicentre of speedway as it hosts four 2023 Australian Championships for U21 and U16 competitors.
All the action will begin on Friday, November 17 with the running of the 2023 Australian U16 125cc Championship, and the pocket dynamos will then return the following day in a state-based teams’ competition alongside the U16 250cc and U21 Australian titles.
The U21 championship is a perennial showstopper on the Australian speedway calendar, and this year won’t be any different as the likes of defending champion Keynan Rew, Tate Zischke, Jacob Hook and James Pearson fight tooth and nail for superiority around the expansive 450-metre Oakburn Park track.
Rew, Zischke and Pearson were Team Australia teammates during the Latvian-held 2023 Speedway of Nations in July, while Rew finished a very solid fourth in the multi-round SGP2 world championship – continuing a rich tradition of Australians battling at the sharp end of the U21 showpiece.
Ten of last year’s U21 Australian championship riders will return for the Tamworth shootout, which means the competition for spots in the A-final will be an extremely tight affair.
The top three point-scorers after the 20 heats will progress straight to the A-final, joined by the winner of the B-final – the sudden-death run-off between the riders who fill positions 4-7 in the preliminaries.
The U16 250cc championship is a drop in horsepower compared to the thundering 500cc singles of the U21s, but that doesn’t equate to a drop in intensity. And it’s a field where quality runs deep, with 2022 incumbents Beau Bailey, Alexander Adamson and Mitchell McDiarmid to feel the heat from U16 125cc graduates like Ashley Janson Batchelor and Harry Sadler. The final result could come down to the smallest of margins.
U16 250c COMPETITORS
Bailey took the U16 125 and 250cc double in 2022, so he’s got the runs on the board, while McDiarmid was the leading Aussie in this year’s SGP3 world title.
Meanwhile, the U16 125cc solo title is wide open with last year’s top four moving on, and riders like Kobi Canning and Cooper Antone in the box seat to fill the void.
Antone was runner-up in the 2023 SGP4 world title, a recently inaugurated class catering for 11-13-year-olds on 190cc four-strokes.
U16 125cc COMPETITORS
A majority of the U16 125cc riders will then assemble in state-based two-rider pairings for the U16 teams’ championship on Saturday, with WA the defending champion.
U16 125cc TEAMS
The 125cc classes will compete on a smaller 120-metre track in Tamworth, which means riders will be on high alert the whole time.
With excellent weather on the horizon, racing will commence at 6:00 pm on Friday (U16 125cc) and 2:30 pm on Saturday (U16 125cc teams). After a short Saturday recess, the U21 and U16 250cc titles will then roar into life at 6:00 pm in yet another twilight spectacular.
The U16 and U21 Australian championships kickstart a massive few months of competition Down Under as the centenary speedway celebrations really ramp up a notch.
Centenary meetings will be held in Kurri Kurri (NSW) on December 15-16 and North Brisbane (Qld) on December 28-29, followed by the Australian Senior Solo Championship from January 4-13.