Adams sublime from go to whoa
January 10, 2005 - Leigh Adams continued his all-conquering ways on local soil when he collected an eighth Australian Speedway Championship in Mildura (Vic) on Saturday, January 8.
In front of a vociferous home crowd at the Olympic Park Speedway, 33-year-old Adams, the current world number four, was again in sublime touch, as he easily accounted for Adam Shields and fellow Mildurians Jason Lyons and Travis McGowan in the four-lap A Final.
The 20pts for victory saw Adams complete the four-round championship on a perfect 80pts, 13 in advance of Lyons (67), with laconic West Australian Steve Johnston third on 61. En route, Adams won an amazing 22 of his 24 races, with his whitewash aspirations doused by a mechanical failure in round one at Gosford (NSW), and Lyons, who managed to defeat him in heat 10 at Mildura.
"It's great to wrap up the championship in front of my home crowd," said the three-time grand prix winner. "I've been really happy with my form this year, and a major part of that stems from last year's championship when Ryan (Sullivan) hosed me.
"So this year I brought back a bike and a couple of engines from England with me, and I couldn't be happier with how it has all turned out.
"I've been particularly impressed with my starts - let's hope I can transfer those into the 2005 world championship GPs."
After his latest sublime performance, Adams is now just one championship belt behind Aub Lawson, who was last victorious at the Sydney Sports Ground in 1954. However, prior to 1962 more than one championship was held each year, over varying distances, which certainly helps to put Adams' modern-day achievements into perspective.
Under a cloudless sky in Mildura, Adams was the class act from the outset of proceedings, with his first heat win -- over McGowan, Matthew Wethers and Rory Schlein -- nearly a new race record. The only 'hiccup' after that was his defeat at the hands of Lyons, in what was one of the most keenly contested races on the program.
After the conclusion of the 20 heats, Adams was the top scorer on 14pts, ahead of Shields (11) and a quartet on 10 -- Lyons, Danish visitor Charlie Gjedde, Johnston and McGowan.
Under a countback system, Lyons, who won three of his five heats, and McGowan joined Adams and Shields in the A Final. Adams, courtesy of being the highest scorer in the heats, chose the inside gate one for the final, and only had to go through the motions to claim the spoils -- immediately donating his winnings from the night back to the promoting Mildura Motorcycle Club.
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Shields, in his first appearance in a 2005 final, was untroubled in holding onto second from McGowan and a tender Lyons, whose night was punctuated by a few bone-jarring crashes.
However, Lyons' heroics were ultimately not in vain, as he received a brand new Jawa for being the highest-placed non-GP rider in the championship -- which he will keep at his Australian base in preparation for the 2006 battle.
In the B Final at Mildura, Johnston was too good for Gjedde, Schlein and Albury (NSW) pilot Ashley Jones.
Johnston's final flurry saw him finish third in the championship, ahead of Gjedde (60pts), Craig Watson (58), McGowan (57), Shields (56) and Mark Lemon (51). Watson was in third position after round three in Gillman (SA), but could only manage 10pt position in Mildura -- not enough for a start in either of the finals.
<pre> FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS 1 Leigh Adams (Vic) 80pts 2 Jason Lyons (Vic) 67 3 Steve Johnston (WA) 61 4 Charlie Gjedde (Denmark) 60 5 Craig Watson (NSW) 58 6 Travis McGowan (Vic) 57 7 Adam Shields (NSW) 56 8 Mark Lemon (Vic) 51 9 Rory Schlein (SA) 46 10 Kevin Doolan (Vic) 37 11 Ashley Jones (NSW) 30 12 Cameron Woodward (Vic) 29 13 Troy Batchelor (Qld) 27 14 Matthew Wethers (SA) 26 15 Chris Ferguson (Vic) 11 16 Tom Hedley (Vic) 5 17 Jason Doyle (NSW) 4 18 Adam Allott (UK) 3