LOOKING AHEAD: Sam Masters in action during practice for the World Speedway Grand Prix in October in Melbourne. Picture: Getty ImagesNEWCASTLErider Sam Masters was taking the positive of a grand prix qualifying positionfromthe disappointment of falling justone point short of a maiden n Speedway Solo Championship.
Masters, who was second last year to world grand prix star and fellow Novocastrian Jason Doyle, went into the A-final of the fourth and last round at Olympic Park Speedway inMildura on Sunday night needing victory to take the title or second to force a ride-off with Cowra’s Brady Kurtz.
However, VictoriansJustin Sedgmen and Max Fricke used their local knowledge to relegate Mastersto third. He finished second overall on 54 points, one behind 19-year-old series rookieKurtz.Fricke (52) and Pelaw Main’s RohanTungate (51) rounded out the top four, who earned the right tocompete in the World Speedway Grand Prix qualifying rounds in Europe for a place on the elite series.
Masters had his first taste of world grand prix racing in October when he was the wildcard for the Melbourne round, a spot he earned by coming second to Doyle last year in the n titles.
The qualifying spot was a bright point for the bitterly disappointed Masters.
“I’m really lost for words if I’m honest,’’ Masters told his supporters.’’I’ve come so far in the series and lost out by a single point.
“I didn’t feel particularly quick at all tonight and the bikes just wouldn’t work, no matter what the boys did in the pits.
“Fair play to Brady, as he got the job done in that last chance after Rohan crashed.
“Finishing second is a great achievement, I guess, in what has been a tough series. I want to thank all mysponsors for supporting me and everyone else who has helped me out over the past few days.
“This result is hard to take right now but I’m in the qualifiers again for the grand prix so I will take that as a positive.”
Masters was second in round one at Kurri Kurri behind Tungate, then led the series after round two in Undera. Kurtz snared the lead in round three at Gillman Speedway in South on Friday night, leaving Masters three points off the pace.
Masters qualified directly into the A-final at Mildura aftertwo wins andthree seconds in his five heat rides. Kurtz was relegated to the B-final, againstTungate,Jack Holder (Appin, NSW) and Nick Morris(Queensland), from which the winner progressed tothe main event.
Tungate took the lead but fell atthe last corner of theopening lap, which allowed Kurtz to take the win and progress.Kurtz, however, was excluded from the A-final for rolling forward and touchingthe start tapes.