FRICKE CLOSES ON AUSSIE TITLE
Australian Championship leader Max Fricke pledged to keep piling up the points after putting one hand on the trophy with victory at Albury.
09 / 01 / 2019, 11:30
Australian Championship leader Max Fricke pledged to keep piling up the points after putting one hand on the trophy with victory at Albury on Wednesday.
The Mansfield-born racer triumphed at the Victorian circuit, winning an epic A Final showdown with Tungate, while 2012 world champion Chris Holder got the better of Brady Kurtz for third place.
Fricke and Tungate dropped just one point in their heats, but Fricke got the better of his former Belle Vue team mate when it mattered most to move eight points clear at the top of the standings on 66 ahead of the decider at Tungate’s home track Kurri Kurri on Saturday.
It’s just a matter of edging forward and trying to increase my points lead all the time. Going into the last round, I just need to keep consistent and hopefully I will be able to bring it home.
The 2016 World Under-21 champion isn’t getting carried away, though, and is determined to maintain the red-hot form which has seen him win three out of four rounds.
He said: “At the minute, it’s just a matter of picking up as many points as I can and trying to be consistent. The championship is super close on points, so I am just trying to do my best and pick up as many as I can.
“To get that No.1 gate pick in the final is such an advantage. I am super stoked I got that and got off to a good start. Rohan was all over me there, but I managed to hold out for the win.
“It’s just a matter of edging forward and trying to increase my points lead all the time. Going into the last round, I just need to keep consistent and hopefully I will be able to bring it home.
“But I won’t talk too soon. You can throw points away so easily. At the minute, we’re just trying to be consistent, finish every race and trying to finish with as many points as I can.”
Tungate is second on 58 points as he heads to his hometown. But with Fricke requiring just 12 to be mathematically certain of his first national championship, the defending champion knows he has work to do.
He said: “A lot has to go my way in the last round. It’s going to be tough to peg the points back. I’ll just go to Kurri Kurri and do the same again – plug away race by race and collect the points. That’s all I can do.”
Holder had to reach the A Final the hard way after finishing his heats on 10 after registering two wins, a second and two thirds. But he got the better of a brilliant battle with his brother Jack to triumph in the B Final, with Jaimon Lidsey third and Sam Masters fourth.
The former SGP star is nine points adrift of Fricke on 57 going into the title decider, but is ready to turn up the heat on his younger rival.
He said: “I’ve left a bit of a gap, but the pressure is on him to hold it together. Last time I was at Kurri Kurri, I had a full maximum. I’m feeling good, so I’ll put a bit of pressure on him and stir him up a bit.
“Max is going excellent. Every round he has been up there. He’s doing a great job and deserves to be champ. If I can stir him up, push him and make him crumble, that will be nice too! But we’ll see what happens.”
While Fricke is red-hot favourite for the championship, Tungate and Holder look set to join him in winning Australia’s three places in the SGP qualification semi-finals. Fricke is already certain of a spot, while Tungate needs five points and Holder six to follow him.
ALBURY HEAT SCORES: 1 Max Fricke 14, 2 Rohan Tungate 14, 3 Brady Kurtz 11, 4 Jack Holder 11, 5 Jaimon Lidsey 10, 6 Chris Holder 10, 7 Sam Masters 10, 8 Nick Morris 9, 9 Ryan Douglas 8, 10 Todd Kurtz 6, 11 Zane Keleher 4, 12 Justin Sedgmen 4, 13 Ben Cook 3, 14 Jordan Stewart 3, 15 Kye Thompson 2, 16 Zach Cook 1.
B Final: C Holder, J Holder, Lidsey, Masters.
A Final: Fricke, Tungate, C Holder, Kurtz.
AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS: 1 Max Fricke 66, 2 Rohan Tungate 58, 3 Chris Holder 57, 4 Jack Holder 43, 5 Brady Kurtz 41, 6 Sam Masters 39, 7 Jaimon Lidsey 38, 8 Nick Morris 35, 9 Ryan Douglas 27, 10 Jordan Stewart 26, 11 Todd Kurtz 23, 12 Justin Sedgmen 18, 13= Ben Cook 15, Zane Keleher 15, 15 Kye Thompson 10, 16 Zach Cook 7, 17 Josh Pickering 1.