Hunter riders lead challenge for NSW Speedway titles at Kurri Kurri

A who's who of Australian speedway has been assembled for the NSW Speedway Solo Championship at Kurri Kurri.

The titles has attracted a record 25 entrants forcing international standard riders Sam Masters, Rohan Tungate, Justin Sedgeman and Todd Kurtz into a qualifying event on Friday.

A field of 16 will contest Saturday’s final with Kurri Kurri’s Mason Campton and Alan Macdonald from Cessnock among the riders directly seeded into the event.

Campton’s confidence will be sky high after signing for the 2017 season with his UK Premier League team the Warrington Comets last week.

Macdonald will be looking for a top-four finish to aid his push for a team spot in the UK next year.

They will be joined by current Australian Speedway Solo Champion Brady Kurtz, from Cowra, and current Australian Under 21 Speedway Solo Champion Jack Holder, the younger brother of former world champion Chris.

The other seeded riders include Taylor Poole, who has been practicing at Kurri Kurri ahead of the titles, and Queenslanders Tyson Snow and Jake Allen.

Nine riders will progress from Friday night’s qualifying rounds. The top six place-getters will go straight through and there will be a five-way ride off for the final three places.

The qualifying event looks certain to be a keenly contested affair not just because only the top nine point scorers will advance to the championship final but also because of the quality of the competitors.

Masters and Tungate return to Australia after fantastic seasons in the UK and will be favourites for not only the NSW title but the upcoming Australian title series..

The duo were both selected in the prestigious Elite League Riders Championship in the UK and Masters rode in the Australian leg of the World Speedway Championship.

Sedgeman, Kurtz and Douglas all ride in the UK and have featured strongly in the Australian title finishes.

Rising Hunter star Josh Pickering has opted out of the NSW title and will be racing in the Victorian event.

Buttai’s Jye Etheridge, after mixed results in his debut year in the UK, will look to take advantage of his home track knowledge.

Zaine Kennedy and Kieran Sproule also have good records on the Kurri Kurri track and are in the qualifying rounds keeping even the seasoned riders from any complacency in booking their rides for the championship night.

Friday night will start with official practice at 5.30pm, followed by qualifying racing.

Saturday night championship racing will start at 6.30pm with support events for Junior 125cc solos and Junior 250cc solos.

The NSW titles kick off a big season at Kurri Kurri Speedway Club, with the club hosting the final round of the Australian Speedway Solo Championship on January 26 and junior Australian titles.

Other major meetings include the Jason Crump Invitational on Boxing Day.