WHAT A SERIES DECIDER, BART’S BACK WITH A STUNNING WIN. HOWEVER THE SERIES TO LINCOLN CAROLAN comfortably over CODY HASELDINE. DAVID HUTTON’S TOPSY TURVEY SEASON ENDS IN TRIUMPH BY taking the win and the series in B GRADE after a nasty track crash two weeks before. THE WOMEN dominated C GRADE by snaring the trifecta with Mel Pryde, Julie Scharf and Gabby Thomasz, however the absent Scot Carson still hung on to claim the series over Gabby. And Mr reliable Tony Nastasi grabbing the honours in D GRADE.
So the Weather was set and even though there were a few notable absences due to final preparations for next week’s FAMOUS Melbourne to Warrnambool, the start list was distinguished. Right from the starters whistle, all knew they were in for a dingdong BATTLE ROYALE. Bart Duraj back from his successful Croc Trophy victory was not afraid to burst from the group up the straight the first time, he had company with the current Cairns Cup on Wheels winner Brandon Hutton seemingly enjoying the fact that he was out there MATCHING IT WITH the Far north’s best. However Hutton was not on his own and others were not going to let Duraj dictate the race on his terms.
Numerous attacks ensued over the opening laps, first from Linc Carolan then Peter Bridgewater, Damien Ingram as well as Bart Duraj. All these attacks were shut down by Andrew Harper, Tobia Kipper and Bruno Barbarisi, before the first true break of the day was established by Mark Bamford, most likely anticipating a lull before the sprint and the strong Bamford cleared out by around ten seconds. The pace over the next few laps was unrelenting with the lanky Shane Gelling becoming unhinged and Shane then swapped his machine for marshalling equipment for the duration of the meet.
Bamford’s anticipation of the SPRINT came a foul when he caught the C GRADE bunch and the Commissaire was forced to delay the whistle, which then didn’t arrive until the 3oth minute. In this time the catch was made and as the group turned into Ponzo, Brendon Skerke made a cameo launching for the line a long way out. The clever burst brought little reaction from the group as Skerke established an unassailable lead to assure the Sprint points were his. Slight reprieve before the rapid fire of attacks recommenced. Mat Driver, then Ingram, then Duraj and when it looked that Duraj and Ingram were going to snap the elastic Linc Carolan clawed them back, in the nick of time.
LAP after LAP the dynamics of the race changed as did the lead. This action was sending the caller hoarse. Four laps out Bamford and Bridgewater have eked a 3 second gap and this remained constant for the next two laps, when a strong couple of laps from the CURRENT Tablelands Tour Champ Mat Driver brought the chase group within launching distance as they swept through with 2 to go. And on cue Bart Duraj does exactly that, this time with no reaction from Ingram and it looked at that point that they were all racing for second. Then Brandon Hutton cut the wind with a strong turn down Ponzo to drag Duraj back to within striking distance, Bamford then made his way to the top of the chase group with Ingram looking comfortable on his wheel. The closing stages of the race and the pace RED HOT saw up and coming young rider Cody Haseldine dislodged and his race done.
Bart’s lead of only 3-4 seconds at that point appeared manageable when sweeping into Ponzo Ingram in pursuit rolled of the front inciting Carolan to give chase when an unsighted Mat Driver flies up on his inside, only to be skittled and get tangled in Damien Ingram’s wheel, down went Mat skidding on the deck and Damien stopping to correct the entanglement. The incident stalling the group slightly allowing the MASTER TACTICIAN Duraj to sneak further away with 3 corners to go. The recomposed group then set out on gathering in Bart before the line. Rounding the final corner into Spotto it was still Bart Duraj from a fast finishing group however the crash had provided the interruption necessary to ensure that Bart had time to enjoy his return to Criterium racing where he had dominated seasons previously. A fast finishing Mark Bamford swept from sixth to 3rd into the wind but not fast enough to dislodge Linc Carolan from 2nd spot and a series win. Fourth over was Andrew Harper followed by Perter Bridgewater, Tobia Kipper and Michael Haseldine. Matt Driver lost a little skin and a few spokes and Ingram was lucky he and his steed came away unscathed, given the work Damien has put into the Big Melb’ to Warrnambool next Saturday.
Ingram’s near miss sparked a reaction from a Warrnambool veteran about to embark on his seventh crack at the big race. “The politest I can offer is that racing in a crit ( with a nasty roundabout ) the Sunday before Warnie and the day after a 120 klm Motor pace, is only of modest physiological benefit and Choca Block full of risk SO IF FATE STUFFS YA, THEN YOU HAVE ASKED FOR THE SAID STUFFING.” Wise words indeed.
Twenty riders, a mammoth field for the tight Woree course disappeared down Spotto on the first lap sending off a shimmer of Silver, adding to the kaleidoscope of coloured Lycra as veteran Muscle man Gavin Butler led the way. The first four laps had Scott Beaven, Kane Hodge, Kath Deed, Don Huyser, Alex Starmer, Tom Cook, David Hutton and Bernard Cossar- Smith, all being in or near the lead. However on the fifth lap a stranger to our shores in Oliver Bodak moved comfortably toward the leading bunch causing a few tongues to wag. The acknowledgement being that the man from HOBART CAN RIDE and ride he did entering the sprint lap mid field with Tim Wolf in front, Oliver Bodak threaded his way through the field to enter Spotto st the leader and he drew away to defeat Tim Wolf with Grahame Allen close up in third place he was followed by Scott Beaven, Bernard Cossar Smith and Rod Larcombe.
Sprint over and through to lap 14 we had strong efforts from Grahame Allen, Jim Dorney (back from a decent absence from both track and Road) Don Huyser and whipping around the field to take control was young Ethan Chamberlain and on his wheel was Mal Lindsay, this race was turning into a genuine raffle. Through 15 and Mel Lindsay put down the hammer and pinched a 5 second margin over Cossar-Smith, Alex Starmer and Chamberlain. Two laps out and Lindsay had a seven second break, and the popular rider had the crowd egging him on, chasing hard was Cossar – Smith and Ethan Chamberlain riding a mighty race and Ethan had Scott Beaven right on his wheel. The field behind that leading group was bunched including back in 13th spot crack sprinter David Hutton sitting on the wheel of Kath Deed just waiting his turn to pounce.
The bell and past the commentary area it was Lindsay by 9 sec, from in order chasing Starmer, Bodak, Larcombe, Beaven, Allen and Dorney with Davin Hutton now in tenth spot. Mel Lindsay had indicated to the crowd a lap prior the bell that he was almost done however it wasn’t until well into the final lap that the pack nabbed him. Now out of sight all eyes were trained on the entry into the Spotto Straight especially the course commentator, and to his delight over rise emerged seven regular track riders and being the regular caller on most track nights he knew them all, there was Neil Gregory, Rod Larcombe, Scott Beaven, Greg Hutton, Grahame Allen being joined and headed by Jim Dorney and David Hutton, and with a perfectly timed finish David took the race and the series. Jim Dorney finished a very close second with Grahame Allen in third spot followed in by Larcombe, Beaven and Gregory. David having taken the win and the series stood aloft on the podium a deserved winner.
Wow I was in a play once called GUYS AND DOLLS a cast of equal men and women on stage, and for the first time this year in any open grade we had six DOLLS and Six GUYS in a showdown reminiscent of the famous battle of the sexes between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs and we all know the outcome there. So off and away, Russel Eustace led through the first lap, with six women right on his tail led by Gabby Thomasz, Jaime Thurtell, Mel Pryde, Alex Hall and close astern of Alex sat Hillary Bell and Julie Scharf they were followed by the rest of the blokes with Mick Mehonoshon, John Duel, Chris Chastre, Paul Mitchell and Damien Smith and this race was on. Through the first 5 laps Russell Eustace had Paul Mitchell join him. On one occasion however Mel Pryde, Gaby Thomasz and Alex Hall were pretty keen to control affairs at the top. Leading up to the sprint lap, Chris Chastre rolled to the top to give Russell Eustace some company and Julie Scharf was noted edging closer to be a part of sprint action. At this point Jaime Thurtell and Damien Smith had dropped off the back seemingly out of contention.
Into Spotto the Commentator had no trouble spotting Gaby Thomasz however, Russell Eustace was going with the sprint Queen, not far off the leaders were Mel Pryde, Julie Scharf and Hillary Bell and that is the way they went to the line Gabby and Russell drawing clear to fight out the finish with Gaby striking first blow for the women by defeating Russell by 1 tenth of a second. Sprint over and Mick Mehonoshon swept to the lead from Julie Scharf and Mel Pryde and right behind that trio catching their breath came Gabby and Russell. Heading for 3 to go, Mick was joined again by Paul Mitchell however never far away were Gaby Thomasz and Mel Pryde. Then with two left, John Duel raced up and went to the front. Were the blokes just conserving energy? And he led from Gabby and Hillary Bell.
At the bell, Mick Mehonoshon led from Russell Eustace, however, hot on their trail were; Mel Pryde, Gaby Thomasz, Alex Hall and Julie Scharf. This is where the race appeared to be. This race was creating massive interest and UP THE RISE THEY CAME, Gaby Thomasz in front early, trying to fend off Mel Pryde who inch by inch was gathering Gabby in. Then as if from the clouds, Julie Scharf raced past Russell Eustace, WITH Gabby fighting desperately to hang on Mel. Drawing up the inside to hit the front centimetres from the line and stalling off the finishing burst of Julie, Mel Pryde, throwing her fist in the air, won a sensational race from Julie Scharf with Gabby Thomasz inches away in third place. Fourth was Russell Eustace, brave against the might of the women and he was just in front of Alex Hall and Hillary Bell.
One of the girls when asked about the rise of women in this grade simply said this will become the usual (name withheld for fear of retribution) However, should you wish to know who, just give me a call and I’ll tell you. She is one of the true characters on our circuit.
This performance bodes well for the upcoming Ladies only event at the end of this month!!
The warriors division had an injection of youth when very Junior Alana Raynor was competing in her very first Criterium aided by DAD JOSH Alana being a junior TRACK and BMX Champion was purely there for the experience however she did smash the average age of the rest of the field. That left the Hartley boys Jeff and Todd (no relation) the master of Smith’s Park Jim Larcombe the gentleman of the Tablelands Al Marcic, the ever slimming Kirk Binnington and the Red Hot Favourite Tony ( nasty ) Natasi and the affable sprinting machine Gary Perkins. Off and away
However we will pick the race up prior the Sprint where Gary Perkins had assumed control from Todd Hartley, Tony Nastasi and Jim Larcombe. Up to that point all riders doing there bit with Kirk Binnington riding a conservative race sitting on the back. Josh and Alana Raynor simply enjoying learning the course. Into the straight for the Sprint and it was no surprise to see Gary Perkins and Todd Hartley vying for honours and as the pair drew toward the line it was Gary comfortably over Todd then Al Marcic and Jim Larcombe. Todd Hartley second placing backed up his previous sprint win when in fact the report (done by me) incorrectly had Tony winning instead of Todd I still think Todd hasn’t forgiven me. The laps leading up to the bell saw no Gary Perkins maybe with the Sprint win and Dave’s Coffee van WAS TOO TEMPTING. However Jeff (doc) Hartley showed out along with Tony Nastasi , Jim Larcombe and as the warriors filed past the commentary area at the bell the order was Al Marcic, Tony Nastasi, Todd Hartley, Jeff Hartley, Jim Larcombe and Kirk Binnington.
Into the straight and Sprint on Tony had a peep over the shoulder to see he had the lead to nail the race and the series and although Jimmy Larcombe and Kirk Binnigton were finishing strongly it was Tony Nastasi having a terrific year beating Jim Larcombe and another improving effort from Kirk only inches away in third place fourth in was Jeff Hartley.
What a great day, brand new technowalagy, perfect weather, great COFFEE. APPLAUDS TO Kim Butler, Mundi my mates Graham and Smedtsy, Shane Gelling, Gavin and Don and of course Batesy and Gabby. SEE YOU ALL AT THE NEXT women’s race.