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HomeTrack LeaguesReportsPreston Park Track League 6 May 2009

Preston Park Track League 6 May 2009

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Under cloudy skies, a total of 36 seniors and 34 youths signed on for the third meet of the season at Brighton‘s Preston Park track. The healthy state of the Sussex League was reinforced by the arrival of no fewer than eight new riders, ranging from a national champion to ever-so-keen 5-year-old Oscar Denman-Gould. However, with two-thirds of the programme completed, unfortunately racing was curtailed following a crash involving In-Gear Development Squad’s James McCarron.

Seniors

With league leader Felix English and last week’s successful raider Bryan Taylor both absent tonight, Preston Park‘s aces might reasonably have thought they were in for a points bonanza. However, that was without reckoning on the arrival of Jean Spies, the reigning South Africa keirin and Olympic sprint champion, who is currently enjoying a season racing for In-Gear in Sussex. This star rider has been track-racing for five years and is a member of his country’s national squad, and he certainly brought some spark to the racing.

Jason Salter was the early attacker in the traditional 8-lap hors d’oeuvre, while the bunch was being policed by Spies, Philip Burnett and on-form Lee Povey. With six to go, Salter was joined by team-mate Josh Cunningham, and back in the peloton Martyn Potter and 2008 B-league champ Charlie Heffernan were prominent. Safely in the bunch and going well was Neil McClelland, enjoying his seventeenth birthday.

At half-distance the two fugitives had been brought back and Heffernan seized his chance to disappear up the track. The stylish rider gained a useful advantage and survived for two laps, then it was the turn of Driss Jones to have a go just as the number “2” went up on the lap-board. This move by the former successful roadman was timed almost to perfection, and at the bell he still had a gap, but the front-markers in the bunch were hungry for the win, Frazer Clifford leading them through as they began that crucial final circuit. The favourites came to the fore round the last bend, and it was Povey who took the first win of the night in front of Spies, Charlie Sayer, Oliver Pepper, B-league leader Andy Parle and Mark Burgess.

Predictably, the sprint heats were dominated by Pepper, Spies, Povey, Burgess, Sayer and Sean McClelland. The minor final for heat runners-up was won by tall Rob Dean with a great sprint, clearly ahead of Paul Davidoff and Driss Jones.

Lee Povey, Team TerminatorThere was to be an intriguing battle between the super-sprinters in the final, with odds-on favourites for the top two slots being South Africa champ Spies and Euro Masters champ Povey – though not necessarily in that order! These two did not disappoint, with a classic contest for spectators to enjoy. Povey moved ahead with 200 metres or so to go and seemed in control past the Pavilion, with Burgess and Spies just behind him. Indeed, Povey had the win sealed, though Spies was moving up fast and claimed a close second place, with Burgess third, then Pepper, Sayer and McClelland.

Dash races, an unknown distance event and the A-league devil had been programmed for later, but as it turned out the last contest on the night was the “bedevilled” (sorry!) B-league devil/scratch. Matt Wise and Lea Denison were the first to be jettisoned, then it was the turn of Oliver Tuckley and Ben Gerrey. The last two to be eliminated by the officials were Nigel Foskett and Rory Hitchens, and n
ext it was to be the 2-lap scratch element of the race. Paul Barnard made a really smart move at that point, gaining a reasonable lead. This was, however, not enough for victory, as he was caught on the run-in. Along the finishing straight it was all happening, as two riders momentarily locked up, Rob Dean came down and the unfortunate James McCarron had nowhere to go and fell heavily. Meanwhile, up front, Andy Parle came home the clear winner of the race followed by Richard Bailey in second, Barnard hanging on for third and Ben Miller fourth. Somehow, Anthony Rogers, who had lost most of his front wheel spokes in the incident, managed to stay upright and claim fifth spot, while Martin O’Brien took sixth.

Crash victim Rob Dean was soon up and about, but James McCarron needed medical attention and this delay brought about an end to the racing. As it turned out, the gutsy 16-year-old In-Gear rider broke his collar-bone, but apart from this he is fine and well and beginning his recovery. “I heard a lot of clunking and then I landed and saw a few sparks”, he told me. “I hope to be back at Preston Park spectating this Wednesday and with luck I’ll be back racing there in about 6 weeks’ time”.

This was James’s first evening of racing with the seniors at Preston Park and he was most unfortunate to be involved in the crash. Last season, he was one of the top U16s, winning the Sussex League U16 sprint championship with a fabulous effort. We all wish him a speedy and full recovery and look forward to having him back at Preston Park as soon as possible.


Racing-wise, the evening belonged to Lee Povey, with two wins from two events (plus his sprint heat victory). With league leader Felix English absent, Povey has now moved up to within striking distance, while Mark Burgess is in third spot overall.

Andy Parle’s third win of the season has reinforced his position as hot favourite to take the B title, since just five victories are needed for the win and automatic promotion to the A-ranks. Mark Mergler is in second place with one win and 18 points, and Anthony Rogers is third with one win and 11 points.

Youths

The healthy numbers of riders in all age-groups makes for exciting racing here at Preston Park. The winner of the weekly £5 youth award was U16 Elliot Tabraham-Dowers (see below).

U16/U14

Star youth riderSara Gent and Amy Jacobs were the first to show in the joint 4-lap scratch race, but with three to go it was Elliot who had taken control at the head of the bunch. By the finish, Elliot had forged a clear gap and he rode home for a fine win ahead of U14 league leader Ashley Dennis, U16 Milo Burdeau. Next over the line were Amy, Sara and U16 Jack Oliver-Blaney.

Elliot also romped home first in the handicap race, moving up from the back for another great win and the weekly fiver. Behind him came Amy, Ashley and Sara, then Jack Hoyle and Gabriel Parle.

U12

Favourites Amy Barnes and Spencer Thomas came first and second respectively in the 2-lapper, followed by Megan Lewis, Harris Redgrove, Amy Smith and Ben O’Brien. Megan took the handicap victory ahead of Amy and Spencer, with Celia Jenkins fourth, then Harris and Ben.

Young rider at Preston ParkU10/U8

Douglas McCauley won the joint 1-lap scratch race in front of Thomas Burnett, Harry Stacey,
Joe Hill, Cory Anderson and Sam Booth. First U8 was Evelyn Parle ahead of Dominic Kazlauskas in runner-up spot. In his very first race at the track, 5-year-old Oscar Denman-Gould came third and received a generous round of applause from spectators. Thomas came first in the handicap event, beating Douglas, Sam, Harry, Cory and Joe in that order.


Pictures by Dan Dunbar

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