AUS Sidecar: Murray Bridge summary

Great Scott, Christopher does it Queensland pairing Scott Christopher and Trent Koppe are the new Australian sidecar speedway champions after a nerveless display at Murray Bridge (SA) on Sunday, March 27. The 25-year-olds, who had to...

Great Scott, Christopher does it

Queensland pairing Scott Christopher and Trent Koppe are the new Australian sidecar speedway champions after a nerveless display at Murray Bridge (SA) on Sunday, March 27.

The 25-year-olds, who had to fight their way through a qualifying meeting on March 26 just to make the championship decider a day later, led from go-to-whoa in the four-lap final, eventually finishing ahead of local duo Dave Bottrell-Peter Teale and Gary Moon-Nathan O'Brien. Darrin Treloar-Justin Plaisted saw the night out in fourth place after their outfit lost a wheel in the first 'attempt' at the final, thereby excluding them from the Christopher-Koppe-dominated re-run.

"This is something I've wanted to win since I took up sidecar racing, and now it's a done deal," said Christopher before making the log journey back to Queensland. "We struggled a little bit with set-up in the qualifying meeting, but by the time we got to the final we were ready to go.

"Now that we've won the national championship, we'd like to represent Australian in the (FIM Sidecar) Gold Trophy in Germany in August. It's only a one-off event, but we'd really like to go over and make an impression."

With their victory, Christopher-Koppe, who finished third in the 2004 title, became just the third Queensland team to wrest the Australian championship since 1980 with their victory, following in the tyre tracks of Gary Moon-Paul Norton (1991) and Vic Martin-Bob Hill (1998). Furthermore, their victory extinguished the domination of WA and Vic teams in previous events at the Riverview Speedway, which was hosting its fifth national championship.

In an event where the past two national champions -- Andrew Cleave-Dave Power (injury) and Glenn O'Brien/Nathan O'Brien (retirement) -- were absent, the 2005 instalment of the sidecar title was always going to be a tight affair, and that was evident from the outset of the qualifier, where 11 teams battled it out to join the five automatic qualifiers -- Jason Aldridge-Brodie Cohen, Treloar-Plaisted, Byren Gates-Dean Keeble, Bottrell-Teale and Tony Shield-Chris Summerfield -- in the following night's final.

After 21 tough races -- a run-off was required to settle on the 11th and last qualifier -- Victorians Jayden Mayes-Jaeben Underhill (14pts) only dropped 1pt in becoming the first outfit to make it through, ahead of Moon-O'Brien (12pts), Mick Headland-Paul Waters (10pts) and Mark Plaisted-Trent Headland (9pts). Meanwhile, Christopher-Koppe easily qualified after finishing in seventh.

In the March 27 event, Bottrell-Teale and Treloar-Plaisted hit the ground running, with both teams finishing their quota of five preliminary races on 13pts apiece, while Christopher-Koppe (12pts) also breezed straight into the final.

Meanwhile, the tight struggle for the fourth spot in the final came down to last preliminary race, with Moon-O'Brien defeating Mayes-Underhill in a thriller to make it through. Earlier, Moon-O'Brien's campaign was temporarily derailed when they failed to finish their opening race because of engine problems. Their riposte was a couple of wins and second places to snuff out the challenge from Mayes-Underhill, who finished second in the 2003 championship.

That left four teams to slug it out in the finale -- Christopher-Koppe and Bottrell-Teale backing up from the 2004 decider.

With Treloar-Plaisted consigned to spectator duties after they lost a wheel in the first attempt at the final, Christopher-Koppe, who started from the inside gate one, immediately made the re-start their own, leaving Bottrell/Teale to win the minor battle from Moon-O'Brien.

The podium finishers, plus Treloar-Plaisted, will now be invited to participate in the inaugural FIM Sidecar Gold Trophy, which is expected to field the cream of the world's three-wheel brigade.

-Motorcycling Australia

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