Rohan Tungate wins back-to-back NSW speedway titles in thrilling final

Rohan Tungate has won back-to-back NSW Open Speedway crowns after a thrilling final at Kurri Kurri Speedway on Sunday.

Pelaw Main’s Tungate and Heddon Greta’s Josh Pickering traded the lead several times in an exhilarating final to make it a Hunter quinella.

Australian under-21 champion Jack Holder was third and Taylor Poole fourth.

It was an action-packed day of racing and the final was restarted after Holder was ruled to have jumped early when he sprang from the start and led his opponents into the first bend.

In the restart, Tungate and Pickering went into the first bend in second and third place but somehow emerged one-two, until Pickering pulled off a great move on the second bend to take the lead from Tungate.

They swapped it twice more until Tungate finally got the better of his younger rival and held on to win and go through the event unbeaten.

Tungate was delighted with back-to-back titles and paid tribute to Pickering on a tremendous ride in the final.

“I went through unbeaten, but it was tough going and every race pushed you to the limit,” he said.

“That was a great field and a lot of the younger riders coming through showed they have big futures.

“It’s my first event back at Kurri Kurri and to win the title in front of your home crowd is always exciting.”

HARD-FOUGHT: Rohan Tungate leads Josh Pickering in the final of the NSW Speedway title at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Michael Hartshorn

HARD-FOUGHT: Rohan Tungate leads Josh Pickering in the final of the NSW Speedway title at Kurri Kurri. Picture: Michael Hartshorn

Pickering said it was disappointing to lose but there was no shame in losing to a rider of Tungate’s talent.

“Rohan is a great rider and to come second to him is a fantastic effort,” Pickering said.

“I gave it my best shot and it was a terrific final, but there’s no shame in losing to a rider of Rohan’s quality.”

It was a huge week for Pickering, who celebrated his 21st birthday and received confirmation that his British team the Edinburgh Monarchs were re-signing him for the coming season.

Tungate has also virtually stitched up him British and European riding commitments for 2018 with final touches to be completed in Poland.

Tungate said his next major commitment was likely to be the Jason Crump Invitational the traditional Boxing Day fixture at Kurri Kurri Speedway.

It will be an ideal lead-in for both him at Pickering into the Australian series which starts at Kurri Kurri on January 6.

Both will be among the favourites for the series which will also feature reigning Aussie title holder and fellow Hunter rider Sam Masters, from Newcastle.

It will be a red-hot series with the quality of the NSW title event so high that 2016 Australian Solo Champion Brady Kurtz was only able to make the B-final at Kurri Kurri on Sunday.

In more good news for Hunter speedway fans, Buttai’s Jye Etheridge also qualified for the B-final after returning from a season in Britain.

NSW under-21 champion Matthew Gilmore  missed a spot in the B-final on countback to Ryan Douglas.