A big crowd at Olympic Park speedway on Sunday night was enthralled at the skills of the newly crowned 2017 FIM World Speedway Champion, Jason Doyle.
In addition to him still recovering from a broken foot, Doyle was feeling quite unwell, having picked up a stomach bug which affected his balance.
The professionalism of Doyle shone through however, as he rode and won his four qualifying heats, but chose to sit out the Phil Crump Final, as the Final is always held with six riders over six grueling laps
Doyle spent much of the remainder of the night signing autographs and having photos taken with the many fans who have enjoyed Doyle’s eventual success after him having such a wretched time with bad injuries over the past three seasons.
During the heats for the Phil Crump Trophy, the top Internationals headed the points table with each of Jason Doyle, Rohan Tungate and Nick Morris being unbeaten on twelve points. Locals filled the next two places with Justin Sedgmen finishing on eight points and after a great night of riding, Cooper Riordan, was next with six points.
Gate picks for the solo final were somewhat unpredictable, except for Sedgmen who has a keenness for gate six, however that was not to be good for the local star as he did not finish the event, pulling out midway with a mechanical problem. Tungate took gate one, with Riordan in two.
In a re-start when Jordan Stewart fell, Tungate again made the start and again just ahead of Sedgmen and Morris, but Cooper Riordan was always close and used his confidence gained during the night to good effect to stay in contact.
Phil Crump presented his Trophy to Tungate, saying that “he was delighted to see the standard of the racing and enjoyed the commitment of all of the top flight group for providing great entertainment”.
Top quality Sidecars were in the field for the Gat3es Sidecar cup with the current FIM World Sidecar Champions, Warren Monson / Andrew Summerhayes having their first ride as World Champions in front of their home crowd
. They had three great wins, taking nine points until they were excluded for an infringement in their last ride and finished on that score.
The most experienced group saw trouble in each camp with dual World Champion, Mick Headland / Brenton Kerr retiring from their third heat and taking no further part. Similarly, nine times Australian Champ and World Champ, Darrin Treloar had a poor night for him as he was only able to gather for points in three rides and then withdrew.
The fastest and best riders on the night were the Broken Hill pair of Rick Howse / Adam Commons who had three wins and then were involved in a spill and they scored two points in the re-run to top the points tally with eleven while the brother / sister combination of Arron and Teagan Hartwig were next on ten points.
One further back was Monson / Summerhayes, who, with their nine points were still seeded straight into the Gates Sidecar Cup final field.
The Gates Sidecar Cup saw Monson have throttle trouble on the line and wheeled his bike away prior to the start so it was always to be a race in three.
The brother/sister Hartwig combination took the lead away from the Broken Hill duo Rick Howse and Adam Commons with a great pass mid race and then went on to win the event, in what was a significant moment for the family crew.
The family had been reticent to commit to another year of racing as much travel is involved with Teagan living in Mildura and working in Adelaide and Arron based in Waikerie. Tthe chances to get together are sometimes difficult.
The inaugural Gates Sidecar Cup was presented by Les Gates and Sue Gates on behalf of their wider families, with Les saying that “the family was honoured to have the major Sidecar trophy named after them and how much he and enjoyed the skill, speed and pleasure that so many of Australia’s top Sidecar exponents had come to ride in the first ever Gates Sidecar Cup”.