Saturday January 13, 2024
LEICESTER’S Max Fricke was denied his fourth Australian Championship title after a dramatic conclusion to the series at Gillman on Saturday.

Fricke took a five-point lead into the fifth and final round, with Rohan Tungate the only rider with a realistic chance of overhauling him – and the Oxford man was brought right back into contention during early part of the meeting in Adelaide.

The two protagonists met in Heat 2 and a clash between the riders as Tungate tried to pass Fricke ended in the Watling JCB Lions man coming to grief and being excluded by the referee.

And as Fricke struggled for speed in his next two rides and scored only two points, Tungate reeled off three successive wins to take a two-point lead overall.

Fricke recovered to win Heats 15 and 20 which enabled him to progress in the meeting, and he was given a boost when Tungate’s unbeaten run ended with a third place in Heat 18.

That meant the two riders went into the semi-finals level on 67 championship points, with the Final being the only remaining race with points available.

But Fricke was destined not to make the Final as he was unable to get into the top two from the outside gate in the first semi, a race won by Tungate ahead of Jack Holder.

That meant Tungate simply needed to finish the Final to take the one additional point he required and in the event he finished second behind meeting winner Brady Kurtz to secure the title by three points overall.

The consolation for Fricke is that at least the runners-up spot overall has still booked him a place in the Grand Prix qualifiers this summer along with Tungate, Holder and Jaimon Lidsey, the latter two having contested a run-off for third place which was won by Holder.

Of the other Lions representatives, Sam Masters picked up seven points in the meeting and finished ninth overall with 41 points, whilst Ryan Douglas dropped to tenth overall – having started the night fifth - on 40 after scoring four on the night.

Photo credit: DAVE PAYNE

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