CHAMP FRICKE'S AUSSIE HONOUR
Former World Under-21 champ Max Fricke admits it's a "great honour" to add his name to the list of Australian champions at Kurri Kurri.
12 / 01 / 2019, 09:24
Former World Under-21 champ Max Fricke admits it's a "great honour" to add his name to the list of Australian champions as he defied a magical Rohan Tungate maximum to lift the title at Kurri Kurri on Saturday.
The Victorian ace went into the meeting needing just 12 points to be certain of the title, and charged to victory in his first three rides.
His nearest rival Tungate, who started the night eight short of top spot, inflicted his Belle Vue team mate’s first loss in heat 16 to keep the title race alive.
To be Australian champion is a great honour. A lot of big names have won this in the past multiple times. It’s a proud moment to be able to put my name among those guys.
Despite 2018 champion Tungate roaring to a 15-point maximum in the heats, four-time Aussie Under-21 champion Fricke got the better of an epic heat-19 battle with Chris Holder to win the race and secure his maiden senior crown before the A Final.
The delighted SGP second reserve, who won three rounds at Gillman, Undera and Albury and finished second and third in Kurri Kurri and Mildura respectively, said: “I am over the moon. This year I got my first round win and also the championship.
“I am super stoked with everything and I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting me – family, friends, my girlfriend, all my sponsors and everyone who has helped me get to this point.
“Words can’t describe it. I am just so happy to have been crowned Australian champion and to be in such good company. All the boys racing are so fast and Rohan was super quick. We have had some really good racing.
“To be Australian champion is a great honour. A lot of big names have won this in the past multiple times. It’s a proud moment to be able to put my name among those guys.”
Outgoing champion Tungate fired the ultimate parting shot with victory on the night to seal a sensational 19-point maximum as a rider without a British club issued the ultimate come-and-get-me plea.
Despite a strong title defence, he was gutted to fall just short of back-to-back championships. He said: “I worked hard and I did my job on Saturday, but he was away too far with the points.
“I am disappointed. But I am happy with the way I am riding. I came here in good form. I took the win and that’s a positive. I come away from here and feel good. Max is a good friend of mine. We have been team mates for the last two years and I am really happy for him.”
Fricke pushed his rival hard in the A Final, taking second place on a night he only dropped points to Tungate. Newcastle-born racer Masters took third place, with B Final winner Chris Holder fourth.
Masters joined Tungate and Fricke in earning automatic A Final qualification on 12 points, pipping Holder on countback.
But the 2012 world champion took victory in the B Final ahead of Jack Holder, Nick Morris and Brady Kurtz to reach the last four.
Fricke, Tungate and Chris Holder will now fly the Australian flag in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix qualification semi-finals in the spring as they race for places in the GP Challenge at Gorican on August 24, where the top three earn spots in SGP 2020.
Holder - third overall - was pleased to seal his shot at an SGP return as he raced in his first Australian Championship since 2015.
He said: “It was not too bad. I didn’t have the speed I would like, but it was good, fun racing and I had some good races with Max and Rohan.
“I ran out of steam I reckon at the end. It just wasn’t working. But third overall is pretty cool. It’s good to be back here – I hadn’t raced in Australia for a few years. I did it for years and the last few years I haven’t had a chance to. I have been stuck in Europe.
“It’s good to be back and, as stupid as it sounds, doing all those Ks is good when you’re home.
“Overall, I am pretty satisfied. Hopefully next year can go a lot better. But this puts me in the qualification for the Grand Prix, so that’s good. That’s what I wanted to do.”
KURRI KURRI SCORES: 1 Rohan Tungate 15, 2 Max Fricke 14, 3 Sam Masters 12, 4 Chris Holder 12, 5 Brady Kurtz 10, 6 Nick Morris 10, 7 Jack Holder 9, 8 Jordan Stewart 8, 9 Jaimon Lidsey 7, 10 Justin Sedgmen 5, 10 Zach Cook 4, 12 Ryan Douglas 4, 13 Ben Cook 4, 14 Todd Kurtz 3, 15 Zane Keleher 2, 16 Kye Thompson 1.
B Final: C Holder, J Holder, Morris, Kurtz.
A Final: Tungate, Fricke, Masters, C Holder.
FINAL AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Max Fricke 83, 2 Rohan Tungate 77, 3 Chris Holder 70, 4 Sam Masters 53, 5 Jack Holder 52, 6 Brady Kurtz 51, 7= Jaimon Lidsey 45, Nick Morris 45, 9 Jordan Stewart 34, 10 Ryan Douglas 31, 11 Todd Kurtz 26, 12 Justin Sedgmen 23, 13 Ben Cook 19, 14 Zane Keleher 17, 15= Kye Thompson 11, Zach Cook 11, 17 Josh Pickering 1.