Bevilacqua not giving up on maiden title

KURRAWA ironman Matt Bevilacqua allowed himself only the luxury of a slight mental break over Christmas as he continues his quest for a maiden Nutri-Grain ironman title.

Bevilacqua heads into Sunday’s fourth round of the series at Fairhaven Beach on Victoria’s Surf Coast in great form after winning Round 3 at North Wollongong last month.

And while he rates Surfers Paradise’s ladder leader Ali Day as an overwhelming favourite for the title, Bevilacqua won’t rule himself out.

Bevilacqua sits in third place overall heading to Fairhaven, behind Day and Surfers Paradises clubmate TJ Hendy.

But with all athletes able to drop their worst result this season, Bevilacqua remains a strong chance if he can maintain consistency and drop his shock 16th placing at the season-opener.

“Ali and TJ, the guys ahead of me, don’t have a drop round yet,” Bevilacqua said of the consistent pair.

“I like to think I wouldn’t go worse than a 16th, touch wood, but you never know, so we’ll see what happens.

“(Being able to drop a round) is a great part of the series, I think, this year. In anything surf sports related they do have to have a drop round.

“No matter how well we perform, the surf can deal you some really bad cards.”

Competitors are likely to have to deal with the surf again Sunday, with a solid 1m swell predicted for the Surf Coast, a factor that could prove decisive in the endurance event.

“I love the enduro rounds, especially in a bit of surf,” Bevilacqua said.

“It will suit Ali (Day) and Shannon (Eckstein) and the experienced guys if we get some surf down there over 30 minutes.

“It’s a really technical, calculated race in those conditions, it’s really tricky, so I’ll enjoy that.”

Another win would put Bevilacqua right in contention for the title and he won’t rule himself out, although he knows there are plenty of big names desperate to take maximum points.

Defending series champion — and Bevilacqua’s Kurrawa clubmate — Matt Poole and nine-time series champion Shannon Eckstein need to fire to get their series bids back on track and Bevilacqua knows they can’t be counted out.

“There’s a lot of the top guys still in that top 10 that have raced really consistently and haven’t had a dropped round, so there’s still a lot of guys in genuine contention,” he said.

“Ali’s in a very strong position but we’ve seen in the first three rounds, you can easily have a bad round.

“You can be leading, and the depth of field now, you can easily drop back to 16th.

“The series is halfway through but … we’ve still got another round to go, I think, before we can really see who the genuine contenders are, I think it’s still really up in the air at this point.”

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