Pelaw Main speed ace Rohan Tungate led a Hunter trifecta in a night of thrills and spills at the Jason Crump Invitational Cup at Kurri Kurri Speedway on Boxing Day.
Tungate claimed his third Crump Cup beating Newcastle’s Aussie champion Sam Masters, Kurri Kurri’s Mason Campton and Aussie under-21 title holder Jack Holder home in front of a big Loxford Park crowd.
The final was delayed for an hour after two heavy crashes left Victoria’s Justin Sedgmen and visiting US rider Ricky Wells in hospital for observation.
Sedgmen’s Australian title series looks in doubt with what officials suspect is a serious shoulder injury after he landed heavily on his left shoulder when the chain on his bike snapped midway through a turn in his final heat.
Riding in the B-final Wells was badly shaken up, but escaped any breaks, when his bike rose and crashed wheel first into the fence on the final lap.
The four-meeting Australian Solo Speedway Championship starts at Kurri Kurri on January 6, before races at Undera (January 10) and Mildura (January 12) in Victoria and the final round at Gillman in Adelaide on January 14.
Tungate said the two crashes were a reminder of just how dangerous speedway can be and all the riders’ thoughts went out to Sedgmen and Wells.
“The delay as they are taken care of and your worries about mates make it hard to concentrate going into the final,” he said.
“I find I just have to concentrate on getting my bike ready and avoid any talk about the injuries and just hope the guys are OK.
“It’s great to win in front of my home crowd again, but my thoughts are with Justin and Ricky. I just hope they are OK and recover quickly.”
Campton was particularly shaken as Wells, a good friend from riding together at the Workington Comets, had borrowed one of his bikes to compete and was hot on his heels in the B-final when the crash occurred.
“I was tempted to drop out of the final. Ricky’s a good mate, the bike’s wrecked and my head was everywhere,” he said.
“The main thing is that it looks like Ricky and Justin will be OK. There were some really good signs as far as my form in the heats, but I’ll forget the final as my head wasn’t really there.”
Australian under-21 champion Jack Holder narrowly avoided becoming the third rider taken to hospital when running second in the final he lost control of his bike trying to bridge the gap to Tungate.
He fell but managed to get back on his bike to finish fourth behind the Hunter trio.
“That’s speedway but it’s tough,” said Holder, who had one of his best meetings at senior level qualifying second for the final with three heat wins and two seconds.
Like his fellow finalists, Masters was relieved that Sedgmen and Wells’ injuries were not more serious.
“It’s good to get through my first competitive ride since October,” Masters, who last rode in the Australian Speedway Grand Prix in Melbourne, said.
“I had a good ride and got rid of the cobwebs. I’ll concentrate on practice and fine-tuning the bike from now up to the Aussie series.
“I’ve got an Aussie title to defend and I’m determined to bring it back to the Hunter again.”