Victorian rider Justin Sedgmen is hoping to return to Kurri Kurri Speedway for the Australian titles just two weeks after breaking his collarbone in three places.
Sedgmen crashed heavily in the Jason Crump Invitational on Boxing Day at Kurri Kurri and had surgery in Newcastle on New Year’s Eve to have a plate inserted in his injured shoulder to repair the extensive damage.
“The operation was a success and I’m now recovering. I’ve had lots of messages of support from across the world and it’s meant a lot as I’ve lay in my hospital bed,” the Australian No.2 posted on his website.
“I really want to race in the first round of the Aussie titles at Kurri Kurri. It means so much to me each year to race for the championship and I want to add my name to the list of winners. I know I’m good enough to do it.
“The next couple of days are going to be crucial. I’ll make a decision once I see how I feel but at this stage I’m not ruling out racing just yet. I’ll see how I am.”
Sedgmen stayed with reigning Australian champion Sam Masters’ parents Peter and Kellie while waiting for surgery.
Masters and Sedgmen battled out for last year’s Australian title, with Masters securing the title in the final round at Kurri Kurri.
Sedgmen’s preparation for the Australian title series is in sharp contrast to joint title favourites Masters and Pelaw Main’s Rohan Tungate.
Masters had his first competitive outing since the Australian GP in Melbourne in mid-October on Boxing Day.
“It was a couple of months I’ve had off and it feels good to be on the bike again,” he said.
“I’m really determined to defend my title and set myself up for a big year in Europe. I plan to do the grand prix qualifiers and see what happens. It will be nice to get there one day.”
Should Masters successfully defend his title, he will be the first rider to win back to back titles since former World Speedway Champion Chris Holder from Appin, NSW, won three consecutive Australian Championships in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Masters is also in line for four straight Australian Championship podiums. He finished runner up in 2015 and 2016 before climbing to the top step of the dais last year.
Chris Holder was the last rider to achieve four straight podiums with third place in 2009, followed by his three consecutive wins.
Hunter Region Hall of Famer Todd Wiltshire was the last local region rider to achieve four Australian Championship podiums. Wiltshire won the title in 1999 and finished third the following year with runner up places in 2003 and 2006.
Tungate takes the best form into the Australian series dropping just two heats on his way to winning four titles including the NSW solo championship and Jason Crump Invitational at Kurri Kurri.
His great run started with two wins from his two heat rides at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne as an emergency rider.
He used his number one engine in Melbourne and at the NSW titles but tried a different engine at the Crump Invitational.
“I had a bit of a slow start but got there in the end. I tried a different engine so I could save my other ones for the Australian titles,” he said.
“It ended up being a good one. Now I’ve got a tough decision on which engine to start with in the Australian titles.
“I’ve got options which is always nice.”
Masters and Tungate head a contingent of five Hunter riders including Mason Campton (Kurri Kurri), Jye Etheridge (Buttai) and Josh Pickering (Heddon Greta) in the four-round Australian series. Former Australian champion Brady Kurtz and current Australian Under 21 champion Jack Holder are also in the quality field.
Gates open at Kurri Kurri Speedway this Saturday at 1pm. Racing starts at 7pm