SPEEDWAY STAR NEWSDESK
Man to beat?
AUSSIE team manager Mark Lemon believes a “hungry and committed” Chris Holder would be “the guy to beat” in this week’s Australian Championship.
The 2012 World Champion takes on the likes of reigning Aussie Champion Max Fricke, previous winners Rohan Tungate, Sam Masters and Brady Kurtz, as well as Jack Holder and Jaimon Lidsey.
The action gets underway at Kurri Kurri this Saturday, before moving to Albury on Monday, Undera on Tuesday and Mildura next Thursday, before concluding at Adelaide track Gillman on January 11.
Holder and Fricke start as favourites to win the most prestigious prize contested in the Southern Hemisphere this year,
with the top four earning Australia’s spots in the SGP qualification semi-finals.
Lemon believes former Grand Prix regular Holder showed signs of getting back to the form that carried him to the sport’s biggest prize nearly eight years ago.
And if he hits top gear, the Belle Vue boss believes the Sydneysider will take some beating.
He said: “My honest opinion is that if Chris comes back hungry and committed and trains hard for it, I think he’ll be the guy to beat. But it remains to be seen if he has that in the tank.
“These young guys have the eye of the tiger and the fitness on their side. Poor Chris has been through the mill with the injuries he has had.
“He’s not the same body he was seven years ago, and no-one can expect that. He’s also getting older
Wolves first choice and it gets harder. But he has been there, done it and got the t-shirt, so I would never rule Chris out.
“It’s one of the strongest championships we’ve had for a long time. I think the attention will be on Chris as a former World Champion to see if he can find the form that took him to the world title in 2012.
“If he does, I think the other riders will be eating his dust, but there is a lot of youth and hunger in that environment. How he copes with that will be vital.
“Brady, Jack, Sam, Rohan and Max will all be looking at each other, but I think Chris is the one they have to beat.”
It’s not just his fellow Aussies’ form Lemon has been following with interest during the summer season Down Under.
Belle Vue and Great Britain shooting star Dan Bewley has been making his mark on the other side of the world, winning the South Australian State Championship at Gillman.
“As Belle Vue manager, it has been nice to see Dan riding so well out there,” Lemon said. “Winning the South Australian Championship is pretty impressive. Admittedly, it’s not the hardest state championship, but it’s still pretty impressive.”
In times gone by, foreign stars were invited to enter the Australian Championship, but that is no longer the case. Despite Bewley’s state success, Lemon admits he was always unlikely to get a callup.
He said: “I’m not really involved in that process. I know Dan was nominated to enter, but there’s enough depth of Australian riders and it would have been pretty harsh to leave one of our guys out of that line-up.
“That’s what it comes down to. You don’t see it happen very often – other countries putting foreigners into their meetings. It was the commission’s decision and, for whatever reason, they didn’t put him in.”
AMERICAN Champion Luke Becker insists his return to Wolverhampton was never in doubt.
The 20-year-old is back for a second straight season at Monmore Green after an impressive maiden British speedway campaign.
And Becker feels he can kick on with the Parrys International Wolves by making the most of previous experiences.
“Riding these tracks last year is definitely going to make me a lot more confident going into next season,” Becker said.
“Knowing I have already been to a track and have an idea with bike setup and so on, helps a lot mentally.
Riding abroad in Poland and Denmark last season has taught me a lot as well and I can’t wait to put the experience I have gained into my 2020 season.
“I’m really looking forward to being back at Wolves and it was the only club I really wanted to be with.
“It’s a track that I like and a club I really enjoyed being a part of last season.
“I think riding at Wolves teaches you so much with how technical the track is, and it’s a place you can gain a lot from riding.
“I have a lot of respect for CVS (Chris Van Straaten - promoter) and Peter Adams (team manager) after being involved with them last year.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better club and group of people to have around me for my first season riding in the UK.”
Main team sponsors Parrys International are hosting their annual open day at their Cheslyn Hay base on Sunday, January 12, between 10 am and 3 pm and Wolves riders and management will be in attendance.
Chris Holder, here on the inside of Krzysztof Buczkowski, could be a major threat in this week’s Aussie Championships. Picture: JAREK PABIJAN
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VOLUME 68 NUMBER 44
2 speedway star January 4, 2020