LOCAL RIDERS FIGHT OUT DRAMA CHARGED NSW OPEN SPEEDWAY CHAMPIONSHIP

Expectations were high for an exciting 2017 NSW Open Speedway Solo Championship with a quality field entered for the prestigious event hosted by the Kurri Kurri Speedway Club. Not even the total contradiction of weather could have an effect on what turned out to be a drama charged Championship chase.

Scheduled to be held on Saturday night as the opening race meeting of the summer speedway season at Kurri Kurri, the event was hampered by persistent rain showers. Riders and officials decided to postpone until the following day, Sunday, only to be faced with a steady NW wind and sunny skies, resulting in track staff battling with the constantly drying out track surface.

But none of this took away from the drama that unfolded in deciding the NSW Champion for 2017.Defending Champion Rohan Tungate was favoured to make a strong defence of his crown and that was quickly backed up when he won all five of his qualifying races in convincing fashion, carrying him directly into the Championship final.

The battle for the remaining six spots in the Championship finals was intense with less than four points separating the next 8 riders. With some riders finishing on equal points the Championship count back system was required and the tension even had an effect on the officials with momentary confusion in announcing the qualifiers. Current Australian Under 21 Champion, Jack Holder, local rider Josh Pickering and the Central Coast’s Taylor Poole all finished three points behind Tungate and it was Pickering and Poole who went directly into the Championship final with Tungate.

Holder was relegated to the sudden death B Final along with former Australian Champion, Brady Kurtz (11 points) and local rider Jye Etheridge (9 points). The count back system came into play once again as three riders finished with 8 points including Queenslander’s Ryan Douglas and Zaine Kennedy, along with Cowra’s Matthew Gilmore and Ryan Douglas claimed the fourth spot.

Jack Holder held off an early challenge from Brady Kurtz to win the B Final and move into the Championship final. The nervous tension was evident as Holder made a ‘flying start’, but referee Dave Mills was not satisfied that it was a fair start to the race and all riders were recalled for a re-start.

Tungate won the race out of the first corner, but came under challenge from Pickering and in the opening two laps the lead between the two changed four times, Tungate held the lead going into the last two laps and wasn’t headed going on to win his second straight NSW Open Speedway Solo Championship.

“I used my big engine today and it worked well,” Tungate said as he received his MNSW Gold medal. “Now I can focus on the Aussies (title).”

Josh Pickering was thrilled with his second place. “That stops the worries about a visa to the UK for the next couple of years,” he said.

The next race meeting for Kurri Kurri Speedway will be the annual Jason Crump Invitational on Boxing Day and a number of the riders who competed in the NSW title event were given invitations