COME IN, SKIPPER: Mildura speedway star Justin Sedgmen will captain the ‘Swindon Robins’ in the Mildura versus Gillman speedway teams events taking place this winter series.

SULTANS OF SLIDE
By BRENDON GLEDHILL

SPEEDWAY teams competition, as it is seen around the world, will be at Mildura’s Olympic Park this Sunday when teams from Adelaide and Mildura face off, riding under the assumed names of the Swindon Robins (Mildura) and the Leszno Bulls (Adelaide).

This new era will begin at Olympic Park as part of the regular Mildura Winter Series meetings, but this time, and in every month on a Sunday for the winter, will see team matches played out between the Robins and the Bulls.

This domestic competition will attract massive interest all over Europe, but more importantly will put the names of young Adelaide, Mildura and other domestic riders in front of team managers and owners all over Europe, the UK and Scandinavia, as team bosses look for future stars of the sport internationally.

The highlight of the discussions has been the linking with two massive overseas-based clubs, the Swindon Club in Wiltshire, England, and one of the powerhouse clubs of Poland, Leszno.

The affiliation of both Gillman and Mildura to the two international clubs is most significant as former Mildura star and 10-time Australian Champion Leigh Adams, former star Jason Lyons and young gun Justin Sedgmen have all ridden for the strong Polish club. The exploits of Adams, who rode as a Bull for many seasons are most revered at Leszno, with his team efforts being well remembered by the faithful.

Similarly at Swindon, there has always been a strong connection with Mildura, with many Mildura lads taking team positions with the Robins. The great Phil Crump had many seasons with Swindon, as did Leigh Adams.

Other local riders to wear the Robins race vest include Travis McGowan, Mark Lemon, Justin and Ryan Sedgmen and Cory Gathercole. Cory will be one of the team managers for the Swindon (Mildura) team, along with Cam Woodward.

The team from Gillman are nearly all Adelaide lads and will be captained by former UK international and former British Under 21 Champion, Robert Branford, while team managers will be former internationals Shane Bowes and Nigel Sadler.

Branford at number one will have as his heat leaders Adelaide’s Dakota Ballantyne (riding at number three) and Queenslander Zaine Kennedy (number five). Riding at number two will be Adelaide’s Seth Hickey and at number four, Rob Medson. The Reserve riders, who take regular rides in the teams format, will be Fraser Bowes (number six) and Waikerie’s Blake Ridley (number seven).

This Leszno team is very even and as the teams format dictates, the team who scores consistently, with both team riders in each heat contributing to the score should see them do well.

Justin Sedgmen will be the Swindon skipper, riding at number one with Josh McDonald from Kurri Kurri as his number three while local star Cooper Riordan will fill the other heat leader’s spot at number five.

Sydneysider Kane Lawrence, will fill the number two position and Declan Knowles, from Swan Hill, will be at the number four position.

Matt Pickering from Kurri Kurri will ride in the number six reserve position while number seven will be young Mildura man, and most recent graduate to senior competition, Tom Dixon.

The Swindon team will be managed by two recent retirees from the sport in Cam Woodward, whose injury woes over the last three years seem to be mending well and Cory Gathercole, who has not ridden for about four seasons.

Between the four team managers there are hundreds of British League matches of experience, and fans will be keen to see how the managers go at the ‘thinking’ part of speedway.

The double header matches will commence at 12.30pm and be separated by a Junior Teams match which will utilise the 14 entrants in the Junior division, who will also get to learn about the team format and the responsibility that being in a team brings.

It is intended that each month the Gillman track will host a double header meeting on the Saturday as part of their Winter Series, with all the riders then travelling to Mildura for a double header competition on Sunday. These local meetings will always accompany the regular Mildura Junior Winter Series meetings, which will now all be held on the Sunday.

Mildura Motorcycle Club officials are appreciative of the energy that Justin Sedgmen has contributed, along with Dave Parker, in putting this team speedway opportunity together. Club officials are keen that young Mildura riders have the chance to ride in a teams format, as that is the format used all over the world where professional speedway is conducted. The driving of this series by keen riders and two substantial clubs will be of great interest to patrons who don’t get to see teams racing at all, let alone now on a regular basis.

Speedway patrons are invited to attend from 10.30am onwards, with a modest $10 charge for adults and under 17’s are free.

The Juniors will be practicing from 10.30am until 12.30pm, and after that the Senior teams will practice and be on show.

Two Senior teams meetings will be held to maximise the riding chances for each rider, so patrons will get the benefit of watching two great contests with their entry.

Olympic Park will be fully catered with good barbecue facilities and the regular drinks stand will be operating for patron’s enjoyment and convenience.

Olympic Park has plenty of free grandstand accommodation, or the grassy banks are available if folk wish to bring a chair or a rug.

TEAMS SPEEDWAY RACING – AN EXPLANATION OF THE FORMAT

THE new era of teams speedway comes to Mildura’s Olympic Park this Sunday, and a Sunday every month for the winter season.

The teams will be representative of Adelaide, who will ride under the banner of the famous Polish Leszno Bulls, and Mildura, who will ride as the historic English team, the Swindon Robins.

Sunraysia speedway fans have not seen regular teams speedway, but they are in for a treat each month, as the Adelaide and Mildura teams will come together for double-headed matches for the region’s enjoyment.

This brilliant idea is the brainchild of Gillman Speedway’s manager Dave Parker and Mildura’s star and former Australia number two rider, Justin Sedgmen.

It will be contested once per month during the winter and will give young Australian riders, who have not gone to Europe or the UK for this current season, an opportunity to stay sharp during the Australian off season and be ready for hot competition at the start of Australia’s summer.

Both clubs see this concept as a way to put some young Australian riders in front of the eyes of English, European and Scandinavian teams for future selection as professional riders in the sport, an opportunity which has not existed in the past.

Teams racing is exciting, because it is not just a matter of who wins the heat.

Points are still allocated the same as an individual meeting, but the real crux of teams competition is riding for the team:

• To either score a five – when a rider’s team comes home in first and second place.

•  Or a four – when a rider’s team gets first and third place, being split by an opposition rider, who comes second.

A ‘paired’ heat is where one team wins and the other two riders of the opposing team score second and third position with both teams scoring three points each.

A maximum of 90 points are available for the meeting over the 15 heats.

Competitors ride in 14 programmed heats, with the 15th heat riders being selected by the team manager, who usually selects the ‘form’ riders of the meeting to represent the team.

Prior to the start of the meeting the teams ‘toss’ for start positions, with one team starting out of gates one and three, while the other team takes gates two and four. The teams alternate gate positions right through the 14 heats and then a new draw is done for the final.

The home team always wear the red and blue helmet colours, while the visiting team wears white and yellow. These colours are worn by the team irrespective of the gate the rider starts from.