The Monaghan Logistics - Gates Sidecar Cup is looming as one of the premier Sidecar events going around and fans at Olympic Park on Saturday night will see some of the best three wheeled exponents in action, all for Major Season Sponsor, the Coomealla Memorial Sporting Club.
Headed up by the current World Sidecar Cup Champions, Warren Monson and Andrew Summerhayes, the field contains some other World, National and State Champions with Mick Headland / Brenton Kerr, Rick Howse / Adam Commons, Trent Headland / Daz Whetstone, Arron and Teaghan Hartwig and the Gates family being represented by Byren Gates and brother-in-law, Mick O’Loughlin, all adding to the talent pool in the field.
Headland and Kerr have done well in previous years and the Monson / Summerhayes will be keen to defend their Gates Cup, which was held earlier this year, but previous Aussie Champions, Trent Headland / Daz Whetstone will have an opinion about who even gets on the podium.
It is fitting that we open our season with such a prestigious meeting and as the year will culminate with the conduct of the KW Earthmoving & Concreting – 2020 Australian Sidecar title being held over the 27th and 28th March weekend in 2020.
The Hartwig family will be keen to add to silverware collected last year as they want their form of late last year to continue and patrons will be very keen to see the new combination of Denny and Blake Cox, who are now out on their own on some very fast machinery. Denny was formerly passenger for the very quick Kiwi, Andrew Buchanan, who has now stepped off the machine and he has been replaced by a “master apprentice” in Denny Cox.
Many speedway pundits will advise that a schooling as a passenger makes one a better rider, so we can’t wait to see how Denny goes on the throttle. The boys are part of the famous Cox Sidecar passenger dynasty, so Denny’s swap the right hand side should be a comfortable one.
On the Gates podium last year was Club President, Neale Hancock / Tubs Johnson, so they will want, at least a repeat to that result. Mick Headland, Wazza Monson and Byro Gates all stood on the podium as well back in January, so a repeat performance should be likely.
Mildura Motor Cycle Club officials are not making any guesses about who might end up in the “B” or “A: Finals for the night as that would require a prediction of naming the top seven point scorers in the field.
“Gater” would love to make it into the final, particularly in memory of his late mate and former passenger, Dean “Weazel” Keeble, who rode to the 2005 Victorian Sidecar Championship. Byren Gates and Dean Keeble won the State Title in 2005 and that year took the Sidecar Aggregate Trophy at Olympic Park. Dean passed on 5th October, so the Club is in mourning for their late friend, mate, fellow competitor, colleague and valued sponsor, Dean Keeble.
Other teams who will want to get a piece of the action up front will be the strong Broken Hill contingent headed by Rick Howse / Adam Commons, brother Darren Howse / Jack Wheeler and the fast combination of Ricky “Bartman” Stephens / Nick O’Brien, who have shown during last season that they are a force to be reckoned with. The Silver City lads all treat Mildura’s Olympic Park as their home track, such is the amount of time spent racing at Mildura.
A big and long-term leg injury to rider Ricky Howse more than two years ago has held up the Howse / Commons combination but they are back and have already regained their Australian Title podium speed of a few years ago.
The Cox brothers may come to Mildura as a bit of an unknown quantity, but danger faces any team who does not give respect to or account for the ability of the Cox boys, as they set out on a new Sidecar career, with excellent machinery underneath them.
Locals who will score valuable points during the night will be Neale Hancock / Tubs Johnson, AJ Pearce / Eli Bock and Simon Cohrs / Reece Farr. These teams will be strongly challenged by other visitors, Jack and Mitch Spear, Dean Hobbs / Justin Richards and Nathan Fleet / Aryton Canning, all from Adelaide and Melbourne’s Mark Radford / Blake Halls, who come equipped with a new machine. Radford stood out of the sport for a while last year in favour of getting his newer and much quicker machine’s construction completed.
The sixteen teams will fight over twenty furious heats with the top seven points scorers going into two Finals to try to win the Gates Sidecar Cup.
As often is the case, the main event will be supported by the regular and now solid group of local Classis Sidecar riders.
Regulars at Olympic Park will be Glenn Hollis / Rex Byrne, Jake Zoch / Brady Bowen, Marc Bowen / Ben Rankin along with father and daughter team of Chris and Hannah Holmes who will ply their trade against visiting Broken Hill stalwart, Rob Kemp / Nicholas Johns and regular Melbourne visitors, Matt Crundwell, with son Jamie on alongside. The Crundwell family also call Olympic Park home as they visit so often.
The Mildura Club is delighted with the quality and depth of the field for this opening meeting. The good field is a result of Mildura being host of the 2020 Australian Sidecar Title to be held over the weekend of Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March. The KW Earthmoving & Concreting, Australian Sidecar title will be the final meeting for the Club in this 2019 – 2020 competition season.
Mildura patrons are going to get a good look at all the main contenders for the Championship as many riders from Interstate are going to leave machines here in Mildura and just commute to ride from their WA, Queensland and NSW bases.
Riders will be keen to get valuable “track time” at Mildura prior to the National Title weekend.
Olympic Park gates will open to the public at 5:50pm, with a special Practice session being held at that time.