In fine, sunny but blustery conditions, 69 riders signed on for an action-packed evening of racing which included a total of nineteen races for seniors and youths.
The “A” league leader Felix English was away in Wales, preparing for the national junior road-race championships in which he ended up a commendable 13th. His nearest rival Jean Spies was also absent, and third-placed Lee Povey was tonight playing the dual roles of keirin derny and spectator, as his main focus lies with building up for the British and European Masters sprint championships.
With the elite not present, this was a chance for the others to shine and to gain those all-important league points. Also, things are getting exciting in the “B” league, with Andy Parle having a tally of four wins before tonight (just one short of overall victory) and Richard Bailey having two victories to his name.
The traditional 8-lap opener began at a leisurely pace for the bunch, but stylish rider Phil Burnett was soon on his way, out front. He quickly increased his lead, while Matt Wise, Charlie Sayer, Driss Jones, Adam Gent and Andy Edwards were busy maintaining the peloton’s tempo. Edwards left the bunch with Rob Dean, and at half-distance Burnett’s burn-up was over as this duo swept by him, Matt Davies dangling off the front of the bunch. One lap later it was all together, then at the bell Martin O’Brien made an enterprising bid for freedom. The last lap saw all the positions overturned, as powerful Adam Gent sprinted home first ahead of Mark Burgess, Brock Duncumb-Rogers, Charlie Heffernan, Charlie Sayer and Richard Bailey.
Last week’s sprint championship runner-up Mark Burgess used his impressive kick to win the “A” keirin, with Heffernan, Gent, Sayer, Duncumb-Rogers and Driss Jones behind him. The B league title was at stake in the next event, the equivalent “B1” keirin, where a win for Parle would give him the year’s accolade. However, Bailey outsprinted Parle to take the win and increase his total to three and Paul Davidoff was third. Martin O’Brien won the “B2” keirin in front of Matt Wise and Phil Burnett.
All three 3-lap dash races ended predictably with bunch sprints. Burgess won the “A” contest, beating Sayer, Heffernan, Gent, Phil Smith and Duncumb-Rogers to the line. Bailey won the B1 race to set up a fantastic situation in the B league with himself and Parle each on four wins, while Sam Cheesman came second and Parle was next over the line. Nigel Foskett dominated the B2 event ahead of Martin O’Brien and Morgan Lewis.
The 8-lap block handicap race was a frantic affair, with four different groups lined up around the track before the off. From the front group Phil Burnett and Morgan Lewis featured well early on, while the second and third bunches were making headway. However, the small scratch group – which lacked the top three league riders overall – had their work cut out to make inroads. O’Brien was among those who were moving up strongly, as was Jones. With riders strung out all round the track, Lewis took a fine win, ahead of O’Brien, Burnett, Tim Hill, Oliver Tuckley and Jones.
With daylight lasting, the unknown distance race turned out to be the second-longest race of the season so far, at 15 laps. Charlie Sayer missed the start and began his race one lap later, which as it turned out was to cost him dearly. Martin O’Brien, Neil McClelland and Bruce English were the early animators, then at the prime whistle the speed increased dramatically and Charlie Heffernan took the spoils. Jones made a useful move, but again with money on offer it was Heffernan who pocketed the cash. Sayer then went away and built up a useful lead despite strong efforts from Ben Miller, Nigel Foskett and others. Sayer took the final prime, then at the bell Tim Hill tried in vain to get away to salvage second spot. At the finish, Sayer was first over the line but his late start ruled him out of the win, which was taken by Mark Burgess with a super – and close – sprint ahead of Gent, Duncumb-Rogers, Jones, Bailey and O’Brien.
With the main A-league contenders not racing tonight, the only change at the top end of the table was Mark Burgess moving up to third behind Felix English and Jean Spies. However, in the B-league Andy Parle and Richard Bailey are now tying with four wins apiece, and surely one of them will win the league next week. NB: See separate piece on the B-league standings.
It is always encouraging to see the large numbers of youth riders each week (usually well over forty) and this week was no exception. For want of a really obvious winner, the weekly youth prize was not awarded during the evening, but this will be decided during the week and given out at the start of the next meeting.
Under 16/Under 14
Ashley Dennis rode stylishly to take the joint 4-lap scratch race victory. Kim English and Sara Gent bagged the next two placings. Ashley then went on to win the handicap, Emily Barnes was second and Laura Cheesman came third. There was a joint 10-lap points race, which Ashley dominated. He won four of the five sprints and of course the overall race, while Emily scooped second spot and Kim was third, just ahead of Amy Jacobs.
Amy Barnes powered home to take the 2-lap scratch win in front of Megan Lewis and Harris Redgrove. Mark Jacobs won the handicap, Ted O’Brien was second and Harris again came third. Amy rode a good tactical points race, her two sprint wins and three runner-up spots clinching her victory. Megan came second and Harris was third.
Under 10/Under 8
Dominic Kazlauskas won the U8 scratch race ahead of Evelyn Parle and Miranda Wright. League leader Douglas McCauley came first in the U10 event, beating Joe Hill and Isaac Wright to the line. The joint individual handicap race was won by Dominic with Evelyn again runner-up, while Oliver Brooker took third. The block handicap was also dominated by Dominic, and he was followed in by Evelyn and Isaac.