THEY battled a host of former national champions and the biggest sidecar field they had ever been a part of, so Bathurst duo Sean Griffiths and Mick Bryant were thrilled to place 10th at Australian Dirt Track Championships.
It far exceeded what the Shadow's Racing outfit had been aiming for at Barleigh Ranch.
Still a relatively new combination, passenger Bryant and rider Griffiths raced at Tamworth a fortnight earlier to prepare for the level of competition they would face at nationals.
They were happy with how they did and had their bike - one much older than that used by many of their rivals at nationals - running well. But they still knew it would be a huge test.
Griffiths said he and Bryant felt it would be massive achievement if they could reach the semi-final given the standard of competition and the number of rivals they faced.
"It was the biggest field I've ever seen at a sidecar meet, or any meet for that matter. We had 16 sidecars, the current Aussie champion plus five former Aussie champions," he said.
"Making the semi-finals, that is all that we wanted to do. But we got straight into the semis, we didn't have to do a play-off, we got straight in and ended up 10th overall."
In order to reach the semi-finals, the Shadow's Racing pair needed to perform well across a series of heats on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Given wet weather on the opening morning impacted the track and that Bryant helped out another entry on day two after its passenger got injured added to the degree of difficulty.
"It was a really hard weekend, on Saturday morning it poured rain, we thought it was going to get called off," Griffiths
"About lunch time they decided to get underway and it was greasy and slippery and conditions were really hard.
"Then it dried out overnight and on Sunday the track was as hard as rock and bumpy and rough. Quite a few blokes were injured without crashing just because of how rough it was.
"There were a couple of races too when I was waiting at the start gate for Mick to come back in. He had come straight off the other bike and straight onto mine and we were into it again."
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The pair finished their heats with a pair of fourths and a third which was good enough to earn them a spot in the semi-finals.
The title taken out by a six-time Australian champion as he led from the gate to the flag in his six-lap final, but Griffiths was still delighted with his effort.
"We knew were weren't going to win the semi unless something went wrong with someone, but we lined up and ended up with fourth and then ended up with 10th place overall," he said.
"We were wrapped, we couldn't have asked for anything more. Our lap times were pretty constant all weekend, about 36 seconds a lap and that was only three to four seconds off the first place runner. That's a long way, but we were still pretty happy."