MAX Fricke has taken another step towards a fourth Australian Championship title by finishing runner-up in Round 4 at Mildura on Thursday.

The Leicester No.1 will head into Saturday’s finale at Gillman with a five-point lead in the series having outscored his chief rival Rohan Tungate in the qualifiers and also finished one place ahead of him in the Final.

The meeting was won by Brady Kurtz, who took the Final ahead of Fricke and Tungate after a re-start was required when Jack Holder crashed out.

But Kurtz was already some way adrift of the main title battle between Fricke and Tungate, whilst Holder and Jaimon Lidsey were unable to make the gains they required to close in on the top two.

Fricke was consistent throughout the meeting as he scored 13 points from a possible 15 in the qualifier, dropping his only points to Kurtz and Holder, whilst Tungate was forced into a rearguard action after finishing last in his first ride.

Tungate recovered to score 11, but that still meant Fricke had extended his series lead prior to the Final, and had also matched Holder who also scored 13, and scored more than Lidsey who totalled 12.

Tungate and Holder came through the first semi-final with Lidsey’s third place a major blow to his title hopes, whilst the second semi saw Kurtz and Fricke make progress at the expense of Leicester’s Sam Masters – who had scored 10 in the qualifiers – and Ben Cook.

The Final was stopped when Holder came to grief on the third bend, before Kurtz took control of the re-run from the inside whilst Fricke held second ahead of Tungate to add three more points compared to his rival’s two in the title race.

The third Watling JCB Lions rider in the meeting, Ryan Douglas, opened up with five points from his first two rides, but a crash in Heat 19 after a battle with Josh Pickering wrecked his hopes of reaching the semi-finals.

Fricke now leads the series heading to the Adelaide finale on 59 points, with Tungate the most realistic challenger on 54. Holder and Lidsey are next up on 48 apiece, whilst Douglas is in sixth place on 36 with Masters just behind on 34.

Photo credit: DAVE PAYNE

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