KSPEEDWAY STAR NEWSDESK
URRI Kurri boss Peter Campton admits the decision to abandon their Australian Championship round last Saturday has “devastated our club”.
One of Australia’s leading speedway venues saw its biggest meeting of the season halted due to an unfit circuit as the near-50degree heat, which has caused devastating bushfires across the country, took its toll.
Track staff battled to create a safe race track and extensive work was carried out after the opening four races.
Belle Vue and Berwick man Jye Etheridge then crashed hard in Heat 5, suffering a broken collarbone.
Despite further work, referee Paul Slade called a halt to proceedings. The round will not be restaged, reducing the series to a four-round championship, with the final rounds taking place at Mildura tonight (Thursday) and Gillman on Saturday. Points scored at Kurri Kurri will not count towards the riders’ championship totals.
snapped a primary chain.
“The referee Paul Slade decided to call it off after Heat 5, which was ridiculous. I didn’t agree, but rider safety is paramount and if the riders felt unsafe, that’s the way it is. I have to take it on the chin, learn from it and go from there.”
Etheridge disputes Campton’s account of his crash, insisting the fall was caused by conditions.
In response to claims he snapped a chain, he tweeted: “No, wrong, my crash was caused by a dangerous track. My chains were still on the bike.”
Reigning champion Max Fricke was sent out to test track conditions before the meeting was halted.
are aspiring to do the same but are not quite at that level yet.
“It just puts everyone in a lot of danger in the first corners and tight situations when you can’t really control your bike properly.”
The series finally got underway at Albury on Monday night, with Rohan Tungate topping the podium.
Rain during the afternoon in the build-up to practice there could not have been more welcome, but viewers following coverage on Facebook still saw a venue blanketed in smoke as fires rage throughout the country.
and Jack Holder and Kurtz are trailing them on 25 each.
But the on-track action has largely paled into insignificance as fires destroy swathes of Australia, claiming human and animal lives and property.
Searing temperatures Down Under put paid to the scheduled opening round at Kurri Kurri last Saturday, where near 50-degree temperatures left track staff with a virtually impossible job to prepare a safe race track.
Fricke revealed riders also faced a battle to get from the New South Wales venue to the next round at Albury – just over the Victorian border – while smoke could be seen hanging heavily in the air at this week’s rounds.
The news comes as a financial hammer-blow to a club that runs just two major meetings per year – the Jason Crump Cup on Boxing Day and an Australian Championship round.
A dejected Campton said: “It has devastated our club. We had to pay back all the money that was taken at the gate.
“We still have to pay for ambulances, announcers, food in the canteen and all the other stuff. It is what it is. I’ll take it on the chin.
“The track was all right, but a few people weren’t willing and made out that the track was worse than it was.
“Jye Etheridge came off and broke his collar-bone, but the reason he came off was he
With a huge disparity in standard between SGP star Fricke and a number of the rookie riders in the meeting who are yet to debut in Europe, the former Belle Vue man feared conditions could lead to further carnage.
He told the Cessnock Advertiser: “It’s unfortunate, you never really want to be the guy to give bad news, but unfortunately in trying to fix the track they’ve dug up some of the old material and there were a lot of edges and stuff in the track.
“As an individual, you could go around and ride it and it would probably look pretty decent, but to go around and expect to race on that with three other guys at different levels in our careers is another case.
“We have guys who do this as a living and we have other guys who
BELLE Vue and Berwick signing Jye Etheridge remains determined to be fit for the 2020 season, despite suffering a broken collar-bone in the aborted Australian Championship opener at Kurri Kurri last Saturday.
As Speedway Star went to press, the 24-year-old was undergoing scans to assess the extent of the damage to a collar-bone, which was already being supported by metalwork inserted after a previous break.
Posting on Facebook, the Newcastle-born racer was hopeful of being fit in time for the European season in the spring.
He said: “Well, that’s my Aussie titles over. Hit a soft spot on the track, throwing me over the handlebars and snapping my collar-bone.
“Should be all good to start the season abroad. Thanks everyone for the messages seeing how I was.”
AUSTRALIAN Championship leader Max Fricke is relieved the nation’s speedway stars have avoided the bushfires devastating the country while they battle for their national title.
Fricke took charge of the series, dropping just two points on his way to victory at Undera on Tuesday, winning the final there ahead of Brady Kurtz, Rohan Tungate and Chris Holder.
He leads the way on 37 points, with Aussie Under-21 Champion Jaimon Lidsey and Tungate chasing hard on 31 apiece in second place, while brothers Chris
The former Belle Vue star said: “It is terrible what’s going on in Australia at the moment. As you can see from the smoke in the videos, it’s pretty thick smoke and we’re still probably 100 km away from the fire – or one of the fires.
“It’s not really very nice. Everyone got down from Kurri Kurri. At one point, they closed the motorway when I was driving home from there.
“We had to detour for a couple of hours and backtrack a little to go around the closed roads. They re-opened them the next day and everyone was able to get down to Albury in time. We were quite lucky considering how bad the fires actually ar e.”
Fricke is hopeful the fires will steer clear of the remaining Aussie Championship rounds as the series heads to Mildura tonight, before concluding at Gillman on Saturday.
He said: “I think from what I know, we should be all right the rest of the way. But obviously that can change pretty quickly with the way the fires have been this year.”
Fricke finished third at Albury on Monday with 18 points and, after adding 19 at Undera, he’s firm favourite to retain the title he won last summer.
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VOLUME 68 NUMBER 45
2 speedway star January 11, 2020