Round 3 2016 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australian Championship - Full Competition Report

O'Toole take QLD win to leave 3 way tie for Championship

Round 3 Report: O'Toole hits form

The fight for a ticket to the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany went up a gear as Australia's top eight took to the stage for Round 3 of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australian Championship in Ipswich on Saturday, July 3.

It was hot and windy with dust blowing in all directions, which only seemed to whip the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® competitors into a frenzy, with a remarkable 10 PBs recorded for the day.

All eyes were on Brad De Losa (NSW) in the Springboard, after he beat Matt Gurr (TAS) with a new Australian Record in Tasmania, but it was Laurence O'Toole's (VIC) turn to surprise. The lanky Victorian claimed 8 points with a PB of 48.03, with De Losa 2nd and Kody Steers (TAS) 3rd. Brodie Dingle (QLD) had a desperately slow start, finishing 8th with a broken axe.

The Stocksaw brought something new to STIHL TIMBERSPORTS: the competition's first recorded dead heat, between Gurr and Brayden Meyer (VIC). Gurr recovered from an early fumble against O'Toole to finish in a sizzling 12.96 seconds, with Meyer clocking an identical time in the following match-up against Brodie Dingle (QLD). The judges poured over replays but couldn't separate the pair, awarding them 7.5 points each for the win. De Losa was 3rd and Mitch Argent (QLD) 4th.

Argent came into his own in Round 3, his pet event the Standing Block. He topped the field by almost a second with a new PB of 16.92. Unofficial results were too close to call in heat 4, Meyer vs O'Toole. Meyer turned first but O'Toole surged at the finish. Video replays put Australian Record holder Meyer just 0.14 of a second ahead to claim second, with O'Toole 3rd in 17.81, an impressive improvement on his previous best time of 19.35. Heat 3, Jamie Head (QLD) v Steers produced another photo finish, with Steers found to be just 0.03 ahead for 4th.

Halfway through the Round and Head's series lead was looking in serious trouble. O'Toole's time competing in the USA between rounds appeared to have helped him find the consistency he had previously been missing.

VW AMAROK LEADERBOARD after 3 of 6 disciplines:

1. Laurence O'Toole (VIC) - 18
2. Brayden Meyer (VIC) – 17.5
3. Brad De Losa (NSW) - 15
4. Mitch Argent (QLD) - 15
5. Matt Gurr (TAS) – 12.5
6. Jamie Head (QLD) - 12
7. Kody Steers (TAS) - 12
8. Brodie Dingle (QLD) - 6

The Single Buck brought sweet relief for Head, who was yet to record a top-three finish for the day. In front of his home fans, Head nailed a PB of 18.26 which earned him second place in a discipline he admits he has a love/hate relationship with. De Losa revealed he was nursing a bad case of the flu, and the Single Buck was always going to test him. The current Record holder, however, gave no hint of his illness as he maintained excellent technique to claim 1st with 17.84. O'toole was 3rd in 18.61.
After 4 disciplines, O'Toole, De Losa, Meyer and Head had emerged as clear favourites as the bottom 4 struggled for form.

The next event, the Underhand only confirmed this, with Meyer (18.14), O'Toole (20.60) and Head (21.30) the three best. Meyer's chopping finesse was on full display, his speed and power making even accomplished Head look sluggish in their match-up. De Losa was 6th in this one (24.18), bending his axe on a knot in the timber. During his post-heat interview, De Losa said it ‘wasn't his day'.

With one discipline to come, O'Toole was on top of the ladder with one 1st, one 2nd and two 3rds but Meyer, De Losa and Head were all poised to take advantage of any stumble.

Top of the VW AMAROK LEADERBOARD after 5 of 6 disciplines:

1. Laurence O'Toole (VIC) - 31
2. Brayden Meyer (VIC) – 28.5
3. Brad De Losa (NSW) - 26
4. Jamie Head (QLD) - 25

Pre-competition, athletes with their own hotsaws had expressed concerns about how the machines would perform in the hot Queensland conditions. They needn't have worried with four PBs recorded in this event alone.

Gurr was first up against Dingle and no-one could have predicted his time of 8.80 seconds, shaving almost three seconds off his PB. This was the first time Gurr had used his own saw, which he built with the help of his son, who is a mechanic. Gurr predicted his time would be beaten in the later heats but declared his hotsaw was now a ‘work in progress'. Watch this space.

Argent logged a PB of 8.55 against Steers and the times kept dropping from there. Head dropped his PB to 7.46 in heat 3 but it was his opposition De Losa who topped the scoreboard with 6.40, just 0.11 off his Australian Record. The last heat of the day matched up O'Toole and Meyer, with a potential lead-change on the line. O'Toole was quick, again dropping his hotsaw PB to 6.62 to claim 2nd for the discipline. It was heartbreak for Meyer, who copped a DQ for overcutting his mark.

It was an exceptionally close round, O'Toole, De Losa and Head now sharing the lead. It looks like the top four spots are all wrapped up, but there is no guarantee on who will clinch the fifth and final ticket to the World Championship.

VW AMAROK Leaderboard Round 3 – final standings:
1. Laurence O'Toole (VIC) – 38
2. Brad De Losa (NSW) – 34
3. Jamie Head (QLD) – 31
4. Brayden Meyer (VIC) – 28.5
5. Mitch Argent (QLD) – 26
6. Kody Steers (TAS) – 20
7. Matt Gurr (TAS) – 19.5
8. Brodie Dingle (QLD) – 18

Championship Points after 3 of 5 rounds:
1. Laurence O'Toole (VIC) – 20
Brad De Losa (NSW) – 20
Jamie Head (QLD) – 20
4. Brayden Meyer (VIC) – 18
5. Kody Steers (TAS) – 9
6. Matt Gurr (TAS) – 8
7. Brodie Dingle (QLD) – 7
8. Mitch Argent (QLD) - 6

Next chop Victoria 17th and 18th September – V8 Supercars Sandown 500 in Melbourne.