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Sidecars get shaking

Saturday, 11th February, 2017

Rick Howse and Adam Commons racing at the Broken Hill Speedway last month. PICTURE: Michael Murphy Rick Howse and Adam Commons racing at the Broken Hill Speedway last month. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

Top sidecar action is set to shake Mildura’s Olympic Park Speedway tonight when the 2017 Mallee Bearings Mildura Sidecar Masters is conducted.

This regularly held meeting is always looked forward to on the calendar and this weekend will be no exception.

A crack field has been engaged for the Masters event, which will see some of Australia’s top Sidecar teams in action, with Monson, Gates, Bottrell, Hudson, Hartwig and Howes all set to fire as will the NZ Champion, Andrew “Spud” Buchanan, with his passenger, Denny Cox, who is part of the Hunter Valley Cox passenger dynasty.

Broken Hill is well represented by the team who came third in the Treloar meeting, Rick Howse and Adam Commons.

The Silver City team have been at the top of the stack in National Sidecar competition since just missing the Australian Title a few years ago at Newcastle and are very quick around Mildura, so patrons will be in for a feast.

Howse showed a few weeks ago that he’s right back in top form just a month away from his home state final in Broken Hill, on the weekend of the St Pat’s race meeting.

It is hard to pick a favourite as the unlucky one two weeks ago at the 2017 Victorian Sidecar Title was Warren Monson, whose machine suffered a fire in the air cleaner while lined up on the “dummy grid” before the Final of the Victorian Championship.

Unfortunately for “Wazza”, he was not able to take his place in the final and the top three positions in the Championship went to SA, with Mark Plaisted/Ben Pitt, taking his first Victorian Champion’s Trophy from Damien Niesche/Mitch Spear in second and The Hartwig, brother and sister team taking third.

Monson should start with some confidence as his State Title rides were good but he faces another SA podium placed rider in Aaron and Teagan Hartwig, who have been riding often and well over recent weeks.

The Hartwigs took third last time out at Mildura in the Vics and then backed up well last weekend at Kurri Kurri where they were just a bit unlucky not to get through the “B” Final in the Garry Treloar Tribute meeting.

Another pair to ride for Darrin Treloar was Dave Bottrell and his lad, Chris, who did well until a spill left father and son a bit sore. Bottrell has recovered well from a life threatening crash in Queensland some years ago, but has fought hard to come back to the sport to ride with his lad, Chris.

Byren Gates and Micky O’Loughlin were “B” Final riders at Kurri and will enjoy getting back to home base for another lash at the main Trophy.

The Gates/O’Loughlin team are top flight competitors, with Gates being a former Victorian Champ.

They will expect to be right on the money now that their race fitness is solid after a late start to their season.

The “hard charging” Shane Hudson/Eli Wright from Sydney will be up for it after taking a second place at Kurri last weekend and they are now most comfortable racing at Olympic Park, a track which they particularly like.

Hudson never gives any ground and is well known and regarded for his tough style.

The Kiwi, Buchanan, with Denny Cox are fresh from a great win at Oteki, NZ, last weekend but come to Mildura to try their luck against our best.

Buchanan has not looked back since taking the younger Cox lad on the side following the massive injury to his wife, Philippa, at Kurri a few years ago.

This Mallee Bearings “Masters” program has a large middle field, with locals, Neale Hancock/Brendan “Tubs” Johnson, Clint Mayes/Sean Coleby, Nathan Cock/Jack Wilson (who did so well in Adelaide last week), Chris Dess/Cam Diwell, AJ Pearce/Brodie Gebhart against the visiting SA riders Dean Hobbs/Justin Richards, Shane Rudloff/Scott Morris and from Melbourne is Mark Radford/Blake Halls. 

Many of these teams are about to crack the big time and this weekend’s Masters program could be just the one where at least one of them takes the major step towards greatness. 

Sometimes it is only a small opportunity which can be converted to a big win, so many of these guys will be hoping to change their circumstances going forward.

Some good support from Classic Sidecars is offered, where evergreen Rob Kemp/Peter Harvy, from Broken Hill will be all out to win well.

Patrons will welcome the return of our Olympic Park Flat Track Masters, which will be contested by “Master Blasters” Nick Waters, Rohan Tegart, Dale Knights, dual World Sidecar passenger, Jesse Headland and then current and former speedway stars, Jason Stewart and son, Jordan, who will enjoy riding against each other trackside as well as Chris Trounson, who will be out to show his best. The contests between Tegart and any of the Waters boys is always full of fury but these “best mates” will ride as hard as they can against each other.

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