Flat Track

Tom Drane Puts On A Show At 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals Finale, But Mick Kirkness Wears The Ring

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Tom Drane at the 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals Finale
Tom Drane (59) made a winning return from his U.S. season winning both days in the 450 Pro class. Photo: Rb Moto Lens

The 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals (AFTN) wrapped up at Gunnedah’s Balcary Park over the weekend, with 85 riders racing for line and championship honours.

As the six-round season came to a close with Mick Kirkness claiming back-to-back Pro 450 titles, on a weekend that also saw returning international Tom Drane go undefeated in the premier class. The Gunnedah oil track delivered some of the series’ best racing during the doubleheader finale, with fans able to witness Max Whale’s Australian homecoming as well as Tom Herrick’s ascension.

It was all about the championship and obtaining his second ring for veteran Kirkness. “It would have been great to win my second AFTN ring with some race wins at Gunnedah, but these young fellas had some pace this weekend!” Kirkness reflected. “I knew what I had to do and with Tom and Max back, it was always going to be fast at the front, but the race for me was always with Wicksy. It was great to battle out a series win over 24 races where we all saw our strengths and weaknesses as riders came through, and I can’t thank everyone involved enough for creating a series like this.”

There was plenty of track time on offer for the opening day of racing, which also included an Open Women’s class for the very first time.

“This was a real treat for AFTN to visit a dirt track heartland in rural New South Wales,” series organiser Dave Maddock said. “It was a sensational way to finish the year, with Mick Kirkness taking his second championship ring, Molly Fairey switching from Clubman Open to win the Open Womens class and of course, being able to catch the skills of Tom Drane and Max Whale up close after a year racing in the USA. I’d like to thank the clubs and our team of officials as well as the 122 riders and their families that have lined up at the AFTN this season. The racing has been incredible, and I can’t wait for 2024”

Mick Kirkness at the 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals Finale
He may not have featured on the win list in the final two rounds but evergreen Mick Kirkness walked away with his second championship in a row. Photo: Rb Moto Lens

Round 5 – Flat Track

In the Pro 450 class, Tom Drane and Max Whale showed the crowd just what happens when you hone your skills on nineteen-inch wheels full-time in America, with Drane blitzing Superpole by over half a second.

With American Flat Track sparring partner Whale in third, the surprise of the day was Thomas Herrick.

“After the round in Brisbane, I realised just how important fitness was, so I’ve been working really hard in that area,” Herrick commented.

All three carried that form into the day of racing, with Drane taking every race win and Herrick taking the runner-up spot from Whale. Crucially, Mick Kirkness held out for fourth over his main title rival, Daniel Wicks.

James Wood at the start at the 2023 Wood Flat Track Nationals Finale
Sam Drane (s7) leads the Junior class on his way to a pair of wins. Photo: Rb Moto Lens

Katarna Robinson took pole in the Open Women’s event on Saturday, but it was Gunnedah local Molly Fairey who shone in the races, collecting three victories out of four. Molly received her share of the $1300 prize pool in the form of sprocket diamond earrings as a reward for her efforts.

“I don’t mind racing against the guys, but it’s a lot of fun having a women’s only event, definitely a lot less scary!” Fairey said.

Other class winners in Saturday’s flat track included Anthony Dall with a clean sweep in Clubman. Sam Drane, who had also recently returned from the USA, took four wins from four starts in Junior Lites, while Jed Fyffe took out Junior 85’s with three wins and a second place.

Tom Drane at the 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals Finale
Tom Drane (59), Thomas Herrick (14) and Max Whale (18) fought it out for the 450 Pro win on both days. Photo: Rb Moto Lens

Round 6 – TT

Sunday’s sixth and final round of the series descended on the brand-new TT track, offering an extra challenge to the competitors, but it was Tom Drane who was again showing the way. He took out Superpole before blitzing the races, with Herrick and Whale completing the podium at the end of the day.

For Kirkness, it was all about getting a ring on his finger, and he did that by finishing ahead of Wicks to wrap up the series.

Billy Van Eerde, who had a breakout round previously at Brisbane, found himself solidly in the top five all weekend but suffered a nasty crash in race three, ruling him out of the final moto.

In other classes, Anthony Dall took out Clubman with three wins out of four, despite never having raced a TT track previously. Sam Drane was again outstanding in Junior Lites, taking maximum points ahead of Bodie Paige, with title winner Copper Archibald in third. In Junior 85s, Jake Paige won the battle ahead with two race wins, getting the better of title winner Jed Fyffe.

Lee Hunter at the 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals Finale
Lee Hunter finished third in the Clubman Open Championship. Photo: Rb Moto Lens

Round 5 – Flat Track Results

Pro 450
1 59 Tom DRANE
2 14 Thomas HERRICK
3 18 MAX WHALE

Superpole
59 Tom DRANE

Open Women
1 27 Molly FAIREY
2 102 Emma SCOTT
3 334 Katarna ROBINSON

Junior Lites
1 17 Sam DRANE
2 296 Thoren OPENSHAW
3 87 Cooper ARCHIBALD

Junior 85
1 23 Jed FYFFE
2 552 Jake PAIGE
3 10 Lenny DUGGAN

Clubman Open
1 43 Anthony DALL
2 267 Ryan NEW
3 5 Darren WEBB

Molly Fairey at the 2023 Aussie Flat Track Nationals Finale
Molly Fairey (27), Emma Scott (102) and Katarna Robinson made up the Open Women podium. Photo: Rb Moto Lens

Round 6 – TT Results

Pro 450
1 59 Tom DRANE
2 14 Thomas HERRICK
3 18 Max WHALE

Superpole
59 Tom DRANE

Junior Lites
1 17 Sam DRANE
2 174 Bodie PAIGE
3 87 Cooper ARCHIBALD

Junior 85
1 552 Jake PAIGE
2 23 Jed FYFFE
3 107 Taylen HOWARD

Clubman Open
1 43 Anthony DALL
2 261 Jason GRIFFIN
3 28 Neil GIRDLER

Final Standings – 2023

Pro 450
1 387 Michael KIRKNESS 1104 Points
2 176 Daniel WICKS 1027 Points
3 14 Thomas HERRICK 998 Points
4 29 Billy VAN EERDE 877 Points
5 25 Cyshan WEALE 773 Points
6 314 Rowan TEGART 718 Points
7 178 Dale BORLASE 659 Points
8 42 Jordan DALL 636 Points
9 44 Tyler O’DONNELL 495 Points
10 598 Rory MCQUALTER 462 Points

Junior Lites
1 87 Cooper ARCHIBALD 1120 Points
2 555 Lachlan RUSSELL 1090 Points
3 296 Thoren OPENSHAW 1078 Points
4 174 Bodie PAIGE 952 Points
5 06 Hugh HOPE-HODGETTS 847 Points
6 7 James WOOD 789 Points
7 278 Blake FAIREY 697 Points
8 27 Jayden HOLDER 616 Points
9 17 Sam DRANE 450 Points
10 Cameron DUNKER 413 Points

Junior 85
1 23 Jed FYFFE 1276 Points
2 2 Lenny DUGGAN 1099 Points
3 10 Lockie DUGGAN 1038 Points
4 552 Jake PAIGE 939 Points
5 11 William WIGGINS 736 Points
6 22 Charlie NICHOLS 734 Points
7 12 Logan TURNER 659 Points
8 5 Hugo HOLMES 641 Points
9 26 Jye FRENCH 592 Points
10 446 Oscar MIDDLEBROOK 586 Points

Clubman Open
1 5 Darren WEBB 1110 Points
2 261 Jason GRIFFIN 1038 Points
3 87 Lee HUNTER 993 Points
4 28 Neil GIRDLER 973 Points
5 69 Luke TURNER 744 Points
6 78 Rhys SANDOW 742 Points
7 36 Darryl MALLAM 670 Points
8 27 Lawrence FAIREY 560 Points
9 278 Molly FAIREY 518 Points
10 38 Timothy HOLDUP 487 Points

Pro Twins
1 49 Kristian O’DONNELL 160 Points
2 43 Joel ELLIOTT 140 Points
3 650 Miles ROE 132 Points
4 66 Jamie PORTELLI 120 Points
5 23 David SCULLARD 118 Points
6 454 Justin STEELE 117 Points
7 93 David BUTLER 110 Points
8 24 Murray PEDLEY 98 Points
9 72 Shane RICHARDS 96 Points
10 737 Rocco NARDI 96 Points

Open Women
1 27 Molly FAIREY 160 Points
2 102 Emma SCOTT 155 Points
3 334 Katarna ROBINSON 143 Points
4 333 Brittaney O’BRIEN 129 Points

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