07 Track – 23rd November
The seventh track racing session for the 16-17 season attracted 15 riders. The attendance was slightly down, as the race day was notable for poor weather. From morning until around 2.00pm, it rained solidly. However, by 4.00pm the weather cleared enough to dry the track, in time for racing. There was a small sprinkling of rain during the events and some wind to cope with. However, conditions were good enough to hold three of the four scheduled events.
The 10-lap A grade scratch race was competitive, as usual. The bunch circulated at a solid pace before Michael Langdon and Antony Bishop put in an attack on Lap 6. Michael seemed unconvinced by the attack and drifted back to the bunch. However, Antony Bishop persisted. With two laps to go, he held a 10 metre gap and looked strong. By the bell lap, he looked even better, with a 15 metre gap. However, the bell lap saw a surge from the bunch, with Steve Jones, Paul Connor and Alec Millett accelerating to close the gap on a tiring leader. Steve took the sprint from Paul Connor with Antony Bishop hanging on for a well deserved, third place.
The 10-Lap B grade scratch race settled in with some solid pace. By Lap 7 one rider had tailed off. Ross Scutts took the lead and initially looked a good prospect, as he gapped the field. As the bell lap started Steve Hirsler put in a well timed attack with Phil Anderson following and looking threatening. Steve held off Phil as the two crossed the line in first and second place. Tony Beasley overtook a tiring Ross Scutts to take third.
The next event was a 4-lap handicap. It is always difficult to handicap these longer events, due to the formation of bunches. In A grade, the handicapper tried a new scheme with most riders slotted into starting groups. This seemed to provide good racing. After a lap or so, riders coalesced into 2 main bunches and started working together. The scratch bunch caught the lead bunch halfway through the bell lap. Paul Connor surged to the line to take a second win for the night, closely followed by Michael Langdon and Steve Jones in that order.
The B grade handicap saw riders spread out more on handicap. By the end of lap 3, all riders had coalesced into a bunch that was travelling at pace and dropped the last rider overtaken. The bunch barrelled into the bell lap and set up for a sprint finish. Tony Beasley took the sprint from Phil Anderson and Phil Coulton. Well done to Phil Coulton for hanging in the bunch when overtaken.
The weather became unsettled as the B grade handicap concluded. After a short interval for the track to dry, the planned points race was cancelled and the race program jumped straight to the normal, all-in, Italian Pursuit finale.
There were 8 pursuit riders on team on Team 1 and 7 riders on Team 2. This required Team 2 to put in an extra lap to compensate for the shortfall of one rider. On paper, team 1 looked stronger in the middle and Team 2 looked to have a slight advantage with the anchor group. Initially the race looked like unfolding to form. However, some great laps by John Paul DeSousa, Alec Millett and Kerry Knowler cemented the mid race advantage of Team 1. By lap 7, Team 1 held a comfortable lead. However, it looked possible for Team 2 to close the gap. Both Michael Langdon and Antony Bishop put in big final efforts for Team 2. However, it was not enough to prevent Steve Jones and Paul Connor closing it out for a well fought, Team 1 win.
Major place getters were as follows:
10-Lap Scratch: (A Grade): Steve Jones, Paul Connor, Antony Bishop (B Grade) Steve Hirsler, Phil Anderson, Tony Beasley.
4-Lap Handicap: (A Grade): Paul Connor, Michael Langdon, Steve Jones (B Grade) Tony Beasley, Phil Anderson, Phil Coulton
Combined Italian Pursuit: Winner Team 1 (Graeme O’Neill, Phil Coulton, Ross Scutts, Alec Millett, John-Paul DeSousa, Kerry Knowler, Paul Connor, Steve Jones).
Current Points Score Leaders: Steve Jones (131), Michael Langdon (119), Ross Scutts (101), Phil Anderson (97), Alec Millett (93), Steve Hirsler (85), Kerry Knowler (77), Graeme O’Neill (67).