VIDEO: Rocky rider’s impressive debut at the Qld Champs
IT WAS always going to be a very tough task to come through the 20 heats and qualify as one of the nine top riders to take on seven of Australia's best riders who were seeded for the finals of Saturday's MEM 2015 Queensland 500cc Solo Championships at the Rocky Speedway.
Especially when it is your first speedway bike race and you have only just transitioned across from motocross a month ago.
And so it proved for Rocky's Zane Keleher.
But remarkably Keleher, in just his third heat, finished second and backed this up with two more third placings.
No doubt an exciting and successful career in speedway bikes has begun for the five-year veteran of the MX Nationals series, where he is placed in the top 20 motocross riders in the country, despite missing some National events this year with work commitments.
Now he is looking forward to competing in both next season.
Keleher said his bike was in perfect condition and it was an amazing feeling to compete in his first speedway bike race.
"Wow, what an experience," Keleher said.
"I had an absolute blast at the Queensland Solo Championships. My first ever race, the first ever laps at the Rocky Showgrounds and the only local rider to contest the event.
"The bike went really well. My two mechanics, Mick Rains and Terry Brett, had it tuned and set up perfectly and I was definitely racing at over 100 kilometres an hour, pushing 110.
"It was very fast and intense. The racing is very tight and very close because the heats are short races, just over three laps."
At top speeds the heats are over in less than a minute, it taking 16 seconds to complete one lap.
Keleher says it didn't take him long to feel comfortable, but he was amazed, and delighted, to be in the points so quickly.
"At the start of the day, I practised well," Keleher explained.
"The first couple of heats I started to get comfortable, learning the craft of it.
"Then in my third heat I came second. I was pretty stoked with that.
"I also managed to grab some ripper starts which was awesome."
Keleher said that he would keep practising over the Christmas break.
He'll also sit down and look at the recently released speedway bike calendar of events for next year and work out which ones he will compete at.
He will balance this with his sixth season in the MX Nationals motocross season.
"I will probably try and do all the speedway events which are close and select a few big ones to race at, so I keep learning," Keleher said.
"I love it, I am hooked. It's a great thrill.
"But I also love dirt bike racing as well."