Speedway

Michael West Wins Dramatic Australian U21 Speedway Title

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Photo of 2023 Australian U21 Speedway Title rider Michael West
Victory for Michael West after an U21 decider that won’t be forgotten about in a while

It was a case of last rider standing in a dramatic conclusion to the 2023 Australian U21 Speedway Championship at Oakburn Park Raceway in Tamworth on Saturday, November 18.

With defending champion Keynan Rew, Harrison Ryan and Tate Zischke excluded in three aborted attempts to run the U21 A-final, Michael West only had to complete four pressure-less laps of the 450-metre track to be crowned 2023 Australian champion.

The 19-year-old was ecstatic with his achievement after finishing ninth in the 2022 U21 title.

“What a day! Lots of complications but we fought through and I’ve got my first Australian championship,” West said. “I’ve been dreaming of standing on this podium at this track for the past three years.

“I wanted so badly to get on the podium at the junior dirt track titles in Tamworth when I was 16 but I finished sixth and was heartbroken. But I kept working hard in hopes of making some luck for myself and returning to Tamworth was my second chance.

“Tonight showed me luck is made through years of consistent hard work. Not just the week, month or even year before! My starts were amazing today and I had great speed by the end.”

While the U21 decider was a drawn-out affair, the three other Australian championships awarded in a massive two-day program in Tamworth – U16 125cc solo, U16 125cc teams and U16 250cc – were more regulation crownings.

Photo of 2023 Australian U16 Speedway Title rider Ky Mitchell
Ky Mitchell dominated the U16 125cc classes

Kye Mitchell was brilliant in the U16 125cc classes with dual Australian championships – teaming with fellow Queenslander Cory Van Elswyk to win the teams category – and a determined Beau Bailey defended his U16 250cc title ahead of Jordy Loftus and Mitchell McDiarmid.

The U16 program then gave way to the blue riband U21 championship on Saturday night, with Rew peerless in the heats after five straight victories. That put the U21 world No. 4 directly into the A-final alongside fellow automatic qualifiers Ryan and Zischke, while West was the last name to be inserted after progressing from the B-final.

The first attempt at the A-final saw Rew’s championship defence evaporate following a crash and subsequent exclusion. Ryan’s exclusion was for the same transgression in the restart, which then left Zischke and West as the only two survivors.

In the second restart, West also crashed, with the referee ruling that Zischke caused the incident. With the track all to himself, West then only had to go through the motions in the final running to make his ascension official.

West now joins a star-studded list of past U21 winners, including Leigh Adams, Ryan Sullivan, Chris Holder, Darcy Ward, Max Fricke and Jack Holder.

With the Australian speedway season now in full swing, keep an eye out for two major centenary events in December – Maitland on December 15 and North Brisbane on December 28-29 – before the 2024 senior solo championship is held over five rounds from January 4-13.

RESULTS: 2023 AUSTRALIAN U16 AND U21 SPEEDWAY CHAMPIONSHIPS

U21
1 Michael West
2 Tate Zischke
3 Harrison Ryan

U16 250cc
1 Beau Bailey
2 Jordy Loftus
3 Mitchell McDiarmid

U16 125cc
1 Kye Mitchell
2 Cooper Antone
3 Kobi Canning

U16 125cc Teams
1 Ky Mitchell/Cory Van Elswyk (Qld)
2 Sonny Spurgin/Cooper Antone (NSW)
3 Ryleigh McGregor/Blake Hocking (SA)

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