Monson Wins Title #8


In a faultless display of speedway Sidecar action, local three wheeled star Warren Monson and Andrew Summerhayes, tookthe Sunraysia Riverland Refrigerated Services, 2021 Victorian Sidecar Championship at Mildura’s Olympic Park Speedway on Saturday night.

Monson / Summerhayes were unbeaten in their five heat rides and qualified first into the night’s Championship final. Next in line was another local and former Victorian Champion, Byren Gates / Mick O’Loughlin, who only dropped one heat point to Monson when they met in heat three while new SA Champions, Mick Headland / Brenton Kerr, were next with thirteen points and were the third of the top three teams to go directly into the main event.

Queenslander, Brodie Cohen / Daz Whetstone, were the first into the night’s “B” Final with their twelve points then Mildura Club President, Neale Hancock / Tubs Johnson were next with ten points, but got the second pick on a count back from fellow local, Simon Cohrs / Cam Diwell. More locals in AJ Pearce / Eli Bock were the last to get a place in the penultimate final, but would have been very happy with their night’s work.

The night was eventful for some with some close calls and unfortunately some spectacular crashes, especially that to Nathan Fleet / Kaidyn Silvy, who had had an early race coming together with Hancock in heat thirteen, but later in the heat got very “out of shape” and charged infield, ploughing through a drain and tipped themselves over in spectacular fashion. Fleet was attended by First Aid officials and was later transferred to Hospital with a suspected “dislocated shoulder”.

In heat fifteen, Melbourne rider, Chris Walker / Phil Bourne-Bryant tipped themselves over on the exit of turn four on the first lap and the passenger hit the ground hard, They too, were attended by First Aid and Bourne-Bryant later re-attended the Medical station with a headache. Further assessment of the Melbourne lad was undertaken at Mildura Base Hospital late in the night.

The main, but most unfortunate activity that occurred during the night was after the first round of Championship heats, about a quarter of the lights at Olympic Park went out. Club electricians and sponsors set about to locate and rectify the problem while the allocated Track grooming took place, but unfortunately the issue was beyond understanding until, after an hour delay, the problem was thankfully resolved, but not before both Andrew Summerhayes and Brenton Kerr, along with Brock Gates, attended the workshop of great Club sponsor, KW Earthmoving & Concreting, to borrow a couple of light towers to allow the meeting to continue. Thankfully, the lighting issues was resolved while the boys were in transit, so the meeting resumed just a tick before nine thirty. A veryattentive crowd stayed put awaiting the resumption of racing and their patience was well rewarded as some spectacular racing continued during the remaining heats and particularly the finals.

The “B” final was distinctive, as a great start to Cohen / Whetstone saw them just consolidate their position while Hancock and Cohrs battled for second and third place. 

Cohrs held sway for about half the race but Hancock / Johnson were set to ride consistent lines and just sneak through in the second lap. Hancock was able to hang on ahead of Cohrs and Pearce, but Cohen, by this time, had already bolted to take the remaining gate selection in the Championship event.

Monson, Gates and Headland selected all three inside gate positions commensurate with their point scores, which left Cohen to fill the outside, yellow gate position.

The SRRS Final started quite uneventfully with Monson again taking control from the start while Headland got away well and was ahead of Gates until lap two. Gates / O’Loughlin, who had had their best rides for many meetings, assumed second place. Headland had the better of Cohan and worked on getting back into second spot ahead of Gates, which he achieved during the third lap. Once he had gone by on Gates, Headland was able to hold onto second place in the Championships, just finishing one place back from the previous weekend, when he took the SA Sidecar Title in great style.

A very clean race saw all riders show each other great respect, which was enjoyed by patrons and officials alike. Mildura patrons were glowing in their praise of the presentation of all competitors in the field but congratulated the top riders on the way that they presented and conducted themselves while active in such fierce competition.

Club officials were likewise glowing in their praise for the way that patrons had conducted themselves, especially with Covid 19 compliance at the Stadium entrance and at the food and drink stands. The Club noted that there were many family groups spread around the stadium taking advantage of the free grandstand accommodation or availing themselves of the spacious grassy banks which surround the venue whilst maintaining strict security. 

After the meeting Club President, Neale Hancock, paid tribute to the Club officials, sponsors and other Club volunteers who assisted in trying to overcome the lighting issue and particularly to the two top passengers who, broke away from their night’s immediate responsibilities of trying to win a State Championship, by heading off to get some Light towers to alleviate the lighting issue in turn two. Hancock also said “that the Club greatly appreciated the knowledgeable crowd, who stayed at the event, always hoping for a resumption of racing and to hold their patience for the hour-long delay in racing”.Thankfully, the racing after the resumption, was first class and was well worthy of a State Championship.

Race newcomers, Max Howse and Riley Commons, from Broken Hill, are a couple of “sons of Guns” as the boys of Rick Howse and Adam Commons, who have been a powerhouse from the “Silver City” for nearly twenty years. Howse and Commons senior were placed second in Australia in the National Championship in 2010 at the Newcastle Showground, the best result ever for a team from Broken Hill, so the boys“breeding and background” is strong. 

The two lads have served an apprenticeship as Juniors and are now making their way in Senior competition and in this State Championship, rode particularly well, winning one heat and placing second in two others behind both Monson and Headland, to finish overall eighth place in a strong field. Sidecar pundits at the track were strong in their praise for the skilful way which these young lads went about their racing. They are most positive with their moves and rode clean lines all night, which will stand them in good stead for the future. It is so pleasing to see young riders, who, with a well learned approach will become stars in speedway Sidecar racing in the future.

Classic and “B” grade support was severely cut after the lighting hold up, but the riders understand that support events are exactly that. The Classic guys are always keen to compete against each other with some of the sounds of yesteryear being most popular amongst Sunraysia’s speedway fans.

Next meeting at Olympic Park is the 44th Annual Sidecar Spectacular to be held on Saturday 20th March where the Keith “Curly” Carmes trophy will be decided. This popular event will be well attended as Interstate riders are due to enter and riders like Cohen are now leaving both their race machines in Mildura and will just commute to ride over the next two months. The Mildura speedway season will only get hotter as these meetings progress, so Sunraysia speedway fans will be in for a feast of great Sidecar action.

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