Victorian Max Fricke is the new Australian Solo Speedway Championship clinching the title with a thrilling win in his final heat at Kurri Kurri Speedway on Saturday night.
Fricke only needed to take a point from the heat, but in the never-say-die approach to this year’s title race he duelled for the lead with five-time champ Chris Holder to secure full points.
The race for the title remained open with 2018 champion Rohan Tungate finishing first and Fricke second in their heat-16 showdown.
It meant Tungate could mathematically still retain the tile but he needed to collect all seven points on offer from the last heat and A-final and rely on Fricke not scoring any.
Fricke put the matter to rest, but the two heats encapsulated the entire series as Fricke, Holder and Tungate battled for supremacy and finished on the podium in all five rounds.
“I’m super-stoked to finish champion,” Fricke said.
“There’s been some great talent who have won it over the years and it is a real honour to add my name to that list of riders
“It’s been a really close championship. Rohan has obviously been very quick as has Chris. The championship between us three has been really close right from the get go.
“It’s been a great championship all the rounds have been excellent with the clubs hosting them doing a great job.”
For Fricke the final round was a matter of keeping Tungate and Holder at bay and maintaining his eight and nine point break on them.
After securing the title, Fricke was embraced by his support crew and well-wishers back in the pits, but the celebrations were put on hold until he completed his mission in the A-final against Tungate, Holder and 2017 champion Newcastle’s Sam Masters.
Tungate beat Fricke for a second time on the night in the final and claimed the round win at his home track. Masters was third and Holder fourth.
“I did all I could. I fought hard and I had a plan and everything went to plan,” Tungate said.
“Max was good. I was hoping he would drop some points and make it a bit closer but I did all I could and won every race and that was my goal.
“Max was great all series and you can’t take that away from him. I made him fight hard for it and Chris was there as well and is a very good rider as well.
“It’s been hard and Max fought hard for it. He deserved it in the end.”
Masters said it was a relief to finally get on the podium.
“It hasn’t been that I have been riding badly, it’s just that everyone has been riding at a really high level,” Masters said.
“This was the most competitive Australian championship series that I’ve been involved in.
“It was just so close all the way and well done to Max, he deserved the win.”