Zane Keleher powers his way to second in the Handlebar Heroes at the Rockhampton Showgrounds on Saturday night.
Zane Keleher powers his way to second in the Handlebar Heroes at the Rockhampton Showgrounds on Saturday night. arp33.com

GALLERY: Check out the action from Handlebar Heroes

SPEEDWAY SOLOS: Zane Keleher was a starting assistant at the first MEM Handlebar Heroes Speedway Bike Spectacular in Rockhampton in 2015.

Fast forward three years and the 25-year-old was standing on the podium beside two of the sport's best at the fourth edition of the event at the Rockhampton Showgrounds on Saturday night.

The Rockhampton rider has come a long way in the three years since he made the switch from his beloved motocross to the adrenalin-pumping action of speedway solos.

Saturday night's second-placing rates among his career highlights.

Keleher won his four heats and the semi-final to advance to the A final alongside three-time world speedway champion Jason Crump, and experienced international campaigners Ryan Douglas and Hugh Skidmore.

The talented quartet turned it on for the 2200-strong crowd, tearing up the track in the battle for the chequered flag.

Keleher said it was a fantastic race and he could not be disappointed about finishing second in such a talented field.

Zane Keleher finished second at the MEM Handlebar Heroes Speedway Bike Spectacular.
Zane Keleher finished second at the MEM Handlebar Heroes Speedway Bike Spectacular. CONTRIBUTED

"Obviously I wanted to win it but when you consider the competition, I'm pretty happy to come second,” he said.

"The final was definitely the toughest race of the night. Going up against Crumpy was pretty hard. He got out early and we had to catch him.

"I chose the inside line and Ryan Douglas went outside. We both got around Crumpy but Ryan pulled away and I couldn't catch him.”

Keleher said the atmosphere at the showgrounds was fantastic and the crowd really got behind the local riders.

Spectators were treated to an action-packed program, with 16 riders in the main event, eight in the solos supports and 12 sidecars.

Keleher rates the Rockhampton event one of the best in Australia, and says the track is the fastest in the country because of its size and shape.

He can't get enough of the high-speed sport and still has his sights set on competing overseas.

"There's nothing like it - it's so competitive and so fast. You can't really describe how good it feels to be riding the bike flat out with no brakes.

Three-time world speedway champion Jason Crump has been mentoring local rider Zane Keleher.
Three-time world speedway champion Jason Crump has been mentoring local rider Zane Keleher. Brendan Bufi

"I've just been working really hard and Jason Crump has been coming up and doing some coaching with me.

"He raced professionally for 20 years so he knows a lot of things and it's been really good.

"I've been doing a lot of racing, and getting a lot of laps under my belt.”

Keleher has been clocking up thousands of kilometres as he travels north and south to compete.

He scored his third consecutive win at Cairns just a week ago and will be chasing more success at races in far north Queensland next month.

"I need a top three in the state titles later in the year to give me an elite sportsperson visa which will allow me to race as a professional overseas,” he said.

"I've just got to keep plugging away and worry about that in November.”



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