A belligerent Ryan Sullivan defeated a class field to win the opening round of the 2004 Australian Senior Solo Speedway Championship on the Gold Coast last Saturday night (January 10).

The four-time world grand prix winner, who turns 29 on January 20, set a new track benchmark (54.31sec) in the heats before going on to clinch the A Final from seven-time national champion Leigh Adams, Queenslander John Jorgensen and Todd Wiltshire.

"To get a track record and win first up is a great result - considering that I've spent next to no time on a bike since returning from the UK," said Sullivan. "I tried a few things on the night, and it all came together beautifully - I hope the form continues in Gosford (NSW) this weekend."

Melbourne-born Sullivan is a two-time Australian under 21 champion (1993 and 1995), but has never managed to clinch the prestigious senior trophy; his best result is third.

The A Final at the packed Gold Coast Silkolene Speedway was a two-part affair, with the first 'attempt' abandoned when Adams crashed after an altercation with Sullivan at Turn One - after Wiltshire had managed to nail the holeshot from the difficult gate four. In the re-run Wiltshire threatened to repeat his short-lived front-running effort from the opening instalment before Sullivan snuck in front - never to be headed again.

"After all the effort I had put in the heats, I wasn't going to let Wiltshire get the holeshot again in the re-run," said Sullivan.

Adams also managed to best Wiltshire in the early stages of the four-lap final, while Jorgensen moved into third in the final stanza.

In the B Final, Jason Lyons - the fourth 2003 world championship campaigner contesting the three-round title - outlasted Mark Lemon, Travis McGowan and 23-year-old Kevin Doolan.

Earlier, 30-year-old Lemon, who finished fifth in the 2003 title, lost a toss of the coin with Wiltshire to see who would claim the fourth and final spot in the A Final. The duo completed the roster of 20 heats on 11pts apiece, behind Sullivan (14), Adams (12) and Jorgensen (12). Lemon was the only rider to defeat Sullivan in the heats, preventing the latter from scoring a maximum 15pts.

Round two of the Australian Senior Solo Speedway Championship will be held at the Gosford Showground on January 17 - the venue where Adams defeated Wiltshire, Craig Watson and Mick Poole in last year's one-off title decider. Practice commences at 10.30am, with racing starting at 7.00pm.



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