||Last Updated: Dec 24th, 2015 - 10:28:41
Sidecars take over the Gillman Speedway Stadium next Monday (28 December) with the Sailun Tyres South Australian Sidecar Championship requiring a massive 40 heats to narrow down the top seven to contest the last chance semi-final and the final.
Ten riders have been seeded into the Championship heats, which will start at 7.30pm, but the other six riders will be determined by a 20-heat qualifying meeting which will be held at 3pm.
The South Australian Sidecar Championship is one of the hardest meetings of the season anywhere in Australia; featuring line-ups equal to an Australian Championship, and this seasonís title meeting is no exception.
Not only are there ten seeded riders all capable of making the final, but there are riders in the qualifying meeting capable of making the final.
If that sounds unlikely, well it was done as recently as last season when Shane Rudloff/Damian Egan only came into the championship as the third qualifiers and went through to not only reach the semi-final but to win it and go into the final and only just missed out on third place after a close race with Justin Plaisted/Sam Harrison.
Plaisted/Harrison, later went on to win the Australian Championship in Alice Springs in April, but Plaisted is yet to win the State title as a rider, although he has five titles to his credit as passenger for Darrin Treloar.
If Monday is to be his night, he is going to have to beat four former SA Champions and two Victorian Champions.
Mick Headland is the most recent winner (2014) in the line-up and is always in contention in any meeting he contests. Heís also a twice World Track Racing Champion, but he is yet to win the State title with his son Jesse as passenger.
Mark Plaisted (2013) and Mark Mitchell (2012) were the two previous winners before Headland, and, like Headland they have other titles on their resumes to back up their claims to be amongst the favourites. Plaisted is a former Grand Slam and Oceania Champion, while Mitchell is a former Australian champion.
The other former SA Champion in the line-up is former Adelaide rider Dave Bottrell. Bottrell, who now lives in Townsville, was the most successful local rider in the title before a major crash in 2008 put him out of the sport for several years. He has to go through the qualifying meeting but he is still more than capable of winning the whole show. In one of his few meetings since his crash he rode in the 2014 Australian Championship in NSW and finished second to Darrin Treloar which showed he is still a major player in Australian Sidecar racing.
Amongst the main challengers to these former SA Champions are former Victorian Champions Warren Monson and Byren Gates.
Monson is a five-time Victorian champion, and the current Australia #2, but both he and Gates have never made it to the rostrum in the SA Championship, which again highlights just how tough this event is.
Outside of that group of former championship winners are Trent Headland, Damien Niesche, Shane Rudloff and Arron Hartwig, who are all capable of reaching the semi-final, or even the final if they are in top form.
Headland and Niesche both reached the semi-final of last seasonís Australian Championship and it was only coming up against Mick Headland in the semi-final that cost them the chance of a place in the final. And, of course, as mentioned Rudloff was a finalist in this meeting last season.
With such as strong line-up, a great nightís entertainment is guaranteed, and there are going to be some disappointed riders at the end of the night.
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