A STRONG line-up of Solo riders will gather for the 2016 Mallee Bearings – Jason Lyons Trophy meeting to be held at Mildura’s Olympic Park on Sunday, January 24.
Speedway Grand Prix rider, Sam Masters, will join local star, Justin Sedgmen, the new Workington “Comet”, Ty Proctor and former British Under 21 Champion, Robert Branford, as the major attractions in the twelve man field which will contest the Lyons Trophy for 2016.
Masters was a close second place in the recent Australian Solo Championship and Sedgmen won the final round of that Title at Mildura, so both riders bring good form to the Lyons night. While they are best mates and former team mates at Edinburgh for the last two seasons, Masters and Sedgmen both like to ride close and hard and the track at Olympic Park allows for close racing as it showed on Australian Final night. Mildura’s Track curators have done a splendid job, especially in the heat at the Title meeting, which clearly was the best track used in the 2016 Australian Title over any of the four rounds.
Proctor committed to the Lyons meeting at season’s start, such is the respect that Ty has for the Lyons family as both Jason and his late father, Rodney, always had time for Proctor and often assisted him, especially early in his career, when he and his father Ritchie made the long journey from Longwarry, in Gippsland, to ride regularly at Olympic Park. Proctor dedicated his third Victorian Title win to Rod Lyons back in December and told Lyons’ wife, Kaisa, that he would do anything for Jason.
Proctor had his career shortened by British Visa authorities last season when he was riding for Sheffield, when an early season injury meant that he did not satisfy the mandatory Visa requirements and he had to leave England. Thankfully, the British Visa authorities have decreed that for this year, Australian riders must finish in the top four places in their State Championship to attract the signature on the “work permit’”, so Proctor’s win in the 2016 Victorian Title sees him back in the UK, this time riding at Workington in the Lakes District in north west England.
Branford does not ride the Australian Titles due to his English heritage, which allowed him to win the British Under 21 Championship back in 2013, but he does enjoy getting to Olympic Park to mix it with the top line riders. Branford will ride in the National League this season for the Rye House “Rockets”.
Brodie Waters, Jack Fallon, Jaimon Lidsey and Jason Stewart are the other locals in the Lyons field with Jason Stewart filling in for his son, Jordan, who unfortunately broke his leg at Kurri Kurri last Sunday, when he slid under the Air Fence whilst riding in a four team event at the NSW venue. Unfortunately, for those Air Fences which are unlike Mildura, riders can slide through under the air bag and still hurt themselves as though there was no Air Fence at all.
The other riders in the Lyons event are from all over, with Tyler King from Queensland, Zaine Kennedy from NSW, Dakota Ballantyne from SA and Jack Morrison from Victoria. All these lads are the next generation of riders who will make an impact on domestic speedway over the next few years. Kennedy showed good form and some strong race lines when he rode recently at Diamond Park in Wodonga in the Victorian Under 21 Championship.
Kennedy rides with good pace and at Wodonga he was not shown anywhere enough respect by some of the other riders in the field, much to their chagrin. Kennedy will enjoy his stint at Mildura, especially while riding against stronger or more experienced opposition.
Tyler King, a young tear-away from Queensland, will give his all to each heat race, even when giving away a deal of experience to some of the International riders while Jack Morrison and Dakota Ballantyne have had some regular rides at Olympic Park, with the young Adelaide rider, Ballantyne getting five heat rides in at Olympic Park in the final round of this year’s Australian Title meeting. Ballantyne is a heady rider, who will just continue to improve, especially with meetings like the Lyons meeting under his belt.
Support events are varied and will provide some good interest to Mildura fans.
A good and even seven rider “B” grade will be the first line of support where locals, Chris Ferguson and Brock Gates will not have it all their own way against Brad Tillett, Blake Ridley and James Davies, while SA’s Gary Fisher and Luke Bacskai will have both the young and the older approach to their racing. An even grade of riders always provides interesting racing and these support events will be enjoyed by all.
The young and upcoming riders of the future will also be seen in action as a strong group of Under 16 lads will compete on their 250cc machines, fresh from their National Championship event the night before at Gillman. A quick trip from Adelaide to Mildura, or the other direction is common for all speedway families, so expect to see some good riding from Oliver Hamilton, Declan Knowles, Mitchell Grech, Jacob Hook and Declan Kennedy. These certainly are names of the future and are wonderful entertainers.
A Jason Lyons involvement in any meeting at Mildura will always have a contingent of Sidecars present and four local teams will contest against regular Mildura visitors, Mark Radford / Chris Walker, from Melbourne, who are pleased to ride and acknowledge the legacy of Jason Lyons in Mildura, Victorian and Australian speedway. Neale Hancock / Brendan “Tubs” Johnson with Byren Gates / Mick O’Loughlin and Nathan Cock / Steve Behsmann against the father / daughter combo of Chris and Hannah Holmes will all be out for top results. There will be no doubt that while the racing will be keen and maybe even tough, all of the Sidecar teams will be out to have fun and enjoy their racing.
Olympic Park gates will open at 5:00pm, as usual, with a small Junior program set to commence at 6:15pm. The Australian Junior Championships are being run on Thursday, Friday and Sunday of this weekend, so local juniors will be somewhat depleted.
Olympic Park offers plentiful free Grandstand accommodation for patron’s enjoyment or spectators may bring a chair or a blanket to the venue, however, Licensing provisions require that there must be NO BYO by Law. Great catering is available for all patrons at the track.
The Mallee Bearings – Jason Lyons Trophy will get underway at 7:30pm sharp.
Next meeting at Mildura will be a wicked Sidecar Four Team Tournament to be held on Saturday, February 13.
Publicist, Mildura Motorcycle Club