Australian Sidecar Championship open season The Australian Speedway Sidecar Championship will be held at the Riverview Speedway in Murray Bridge (SA) on March 26-27, with a cluster of teams -- for the first time in many years - capable of...
Australian Sidecar Championship open season
The Australian Speedway Sidecar Championship will be held at the Riverview Speedway in Murray Bridge (SA) on March 26-27, with a cluster of teams -- for the first time in many years - capable of going all the way.
In the absence of the past two national champions -- Andrew Cleave-Dave Power (injury) and Glenn O'Brien-Nathan O'Brien (retirement) -- a new combination will make the accession in 2005, in what will be the fifth time that the 360-metre Riverview Speedway has hosted championship proceedings.
A total of 12 teams who competed in last year's Bibra Lake (WA)-hosted event will return for another tilt in 2005, with three of the outfits -- Byren Gates-Dean Keeble, Dave Bottrell-Peter Teale and Tony Shield-Chris Summerfield -- seeded to go straight into the official championship decider on March 27. The troika will be joined by two other automatic qualifiers, Darrin Treloar-Justin and Jason Aldridge-Brodie Cohen, in the decider, with the remaining 11 spots set to be filled after a qualifying meeting on March 26.
On lead-up form alone, four of the automatic qualifiers must start the championship as the fancied runners, based on victories in their respective state titles. One of those is two-time national champion Treloar, who won his second title way back in 1995 -- two years after his maiden breakthrough. Since then, it's been a rocky road for the free-wheeling 36-year-old Sydney pilot, including a terrible crash in Queensland a few years ago. However, he's now back on song and eager to join Phil McCurtayne (1984-86) and Cleave-Power (1987/1996/2003) as a triple championship winner.
Bottrell and Teale, the reigning SA champions, will also be banking on the performance of their lives in front of a vociferous home crowd. The duo finished fourth in last year's championship behind the O'Briens, Mark Drew-Stephen Blair and Scott Christopher/Trent Koppe, and 2005 might just be their 'turn' to reach the pinnacle.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Christopher -- still a 'baby' in sidecar circles -- and partner Koppe definitely have the wherewithal to go all the way, although their first task will be to make it through the qualifying meeting. On past form, that's a fait accompli, although one should never discount the vicissitudes of sidecar racing.
Some other teams with some real strength include Jayden Mayes-Jaeben Underhill, who were second in 2003, and Queenslanders Stuart Firth-Steve Chivers, who are always thereabouts and have strong claims on becoming the 14th national champions since 1980.
In addition to Treloar, another former Australian champion, Gary Moon, will also line-up this weekend -- on the top-shelf bike vacated by Glenn O'Brien. Moreover, Moon, who won the championship in 1991, has one of the best passengers in the business -- Glenn's erstwhile partner, Nathan. That alone will make him a strong bet.
Add in the likes of Grant Bond-Victor Gavenlock and Mark Plaisted-Trent Headland and it should make for one of the most hotly contested championships on record.
Racing starts at 7.00pm on Saturday and Sunday, with both meetings -- the qualifying and championship proper -- set to be conducted over 20 heats. The championship meeting will finish up with a four-bike final over four laps.