FOLLOWING A MAGNIFICENT A GRADE PLACING IN THE FAMOUS MELBOURNE TO WARRNABOOL BIKE RACE, A ROCK HARD FIT SIMON HUBBARD PACKED TOO MANY GUNS IN THE LDI CONSTRUCTIONS CRITERIUM OPENER, defeating a brave Kieran Mouldey with SIMON’S CP Racings team mate Gary Haydon in third place.
Add to the trio mentioned above, Luke Azzopardi and Mat Driver made up a small but quality line up as the five riders flew through the opening laps averaging well above 40klms per hour. Hubbard upped the ante through the fifth and pinched a break until joined by Azzopardi putting metres on Driver, Hayden and Mouldey. ALTHOUGH THROUGH THESE LAPS THE CHASING TRIO WERE ALWAYS IN SIGHT of the two leaders. Heading for the sprint Azzopardi and Hubbard had at least a fifty meter buffer, and they reached the top of the Spotto St Straight with nothing between them only to see Simon Hubbard hold a bike length advantage over Luke to grab sprinting honours.
The sprint gone and The pace from Hubbard was relentless especially in the Ponzo St Back Straight where Simon would continue, although seemingly working with Luke FORCE the incumbent U/17 Queensland Road Champ TO probably do more work than the young rider had planned. The pair disappeared into the back straight together, HOWEVER IT WAS Hubbard on his own entering Spotto ST with Mouldey, Driver and Hayden well back but no sign of Luke. It was a relief when the orange apparel of Luke Azzopardi appeared well behind the leading bunch with no signs of a crash which the large crowd were fearing. When interviewed after the race Luke said “After the sprint I was still feeling ok when suddenly I felt crook and simply had to stop to recover”. Honest words from the talented Teenager.
With Azzopardi out of the way Hubbard was now on his own with Hayden, Mouldey and Driver working hard to peg him back. With 3 laps remaining Hubbard had been reeled in by Mouldey and Hayden with Driver not far off them. However Simon Hubbard more than likely taking a breather after working so hard early, still looked very comfortable at third wheel a lap out. Gary Hayden and Kieran Mouldey were still very much in the mix as they started the final lap with some in the crowd wondering whether Hubbard after working so hard had anything left in the tank, but the Hubbard fans had nothing to worry about AND despite a serious attack from Kieran Mouldey on that last lap Simon Hubbard took the opener from Kieran with Gary Hayden and Matt Driver third and fourth respectively. All five riders putting on a fabulous display so early in the season. Simon has the early points in the series and after his powerful performance he will be mighty hard to topple off the Prime Podium Position.
Sixteen faced the starter Richie Bates including in form riders Thomas Rue, Matt Grillo and Brian Nesbit add to that Track specialists Josh Raynor, Tom Cook, Greg Hutton and Neil Gregory and the scene was set for one hec of a race. Oh and I must mention the addition of Queensland Track Squad member Brandon Hutton prepping for the National Track titles in a couple of weeks. However Brandon was purely there supplement his fitness and wasn’t going to mix it at the pointy end of the race.
Through the early stages Alex Starmer, Thomas Rue, Brandon Hutton and Tom Cook were setting and strong tempo however the entire field through these initial laps where reasonably compact including two of our top female athletes in Kath Deed and Alex Hall with the later getting miles in her LEGS prior her attack on an EPIC ALPINE ROAD RACE later this year in the Austrian Tirol. So this race was chock full of interest. Joining and heading the leading bunch was John Duel and he pinched a small break and held that spot for a few laps. Other riders prominent heading toward the sprint lap were Brian Nesbit, Chris Chastre and Matt Grillo they were joining Starmer, Cook, Raynor, Duel and Deed. However the entire field were all at this point in contention. Emerging over Spotto St Rise for the Sprint, lots of colours in dark blue were spread across the track with Thomas Rue emerging as the likely winner and he went on taking the honours with Alex Starmer, Brandon Hutton, Kath Deed, Josh Raynor and Tom Cook close behind, not necessary in that order. Sprint over and the usual suspects working hard, with Shawn Garraway and Alex Hall adding their names to the possibles as they sped toward the final three lap mark, where Grillo and Nesbit rolled to the top. However with Two laps left the order was Rue back in the van from Grillo, Cook, Nesbit, Starmer and Gregory the only riders now out of the picture were Chris Chastre and Greg Hutton, both had now placed their bikes in the rack. With the bell ringing Nesbit had clawed his way back to the top being hotly pursued by Grillo, Rue, Cook and Gregory, with the winner appearing to be in that group. Eyes straining as the field entered the Spotto Straight, where appearing first over the rise Brian Nesbit riding strongly was being hailed the likely winner by the course commentator, until slipping into open air Thomas Rue was inch by inch wearing Nesbit down and in a thrilling drive to the wire Thomas grabbed victory over Brian by less than a tyre in a magnificent contest. They were followed home by Neil Gregory charging late to take third spot from Tom Cook just in front of Matt Grillo and Josh Raynor and right on their heels were Kath Deed and Alex Hall both women showing they will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the series.
Wow a callers NIGHTMARE, ten new or relatively new riders lined up to do battle with fourteen regulars making a field of 24 to negotiate the tricky Woree Raceway. Jon Bodsworth, James Coate Rohan Hickey, Tate Jones, Vic Rodney, Darren Simpson, Devan Van Vliet, Dave Wall, Brady McIntyre and Alisha Wells gave the club a welcome boost in numbers in this HIGHLY competitive grade. Race away and Not surprisingly the evergreen Gavin Butler gave the newish riders a taste of the pace required to be competitive in this division by leading or being on top of the speed through the opening laps and Butler was matched in turn by young rider Brady McIntyre, Mark Procter, Paul Mitchell and Fred Boin creating a better than average tempo. Not to be outdone Devan Van Vliet and Dave Wall MOVED TO THE LEADING BUNCH. So the sprint was going to the Charge Of The Light Brigade and swinging into Spotto heading for sprint Cash, riders were all over the shop as they topped the rise with Steve Davies sprinting quickly with Brady McIntyre smack on his wheel alongside Mark Procter and Fred Boin however Brady McIntyre proved too strong over the concluding stage to take the Sprint from Davies, Boin and Procter.
Sprint out of the way Butler again was on the move being followed by Dave Wall and James Mort. Sneaking closer and being noticed slightly better than mid field came crack Sprinter David Hutton riding to this point a very conservative race. Also weaving through into prominence was Jason Whiteside and Dylan Shakespeare. So three out it was race on, a burst from newcomer Jon Bodsworth had him touch the front followed by Van Vliet, Butler and McIntyre this was any ones race. Butler once again attacked and pinched a couple of seconds only to be reeled in by Mort, Davies and McIntyre. So with the lead swinging like a Pirates LANTERN and THE BELL RINGING, the unmistakable white colours of Fred Boin hit the front with Brady McIntyre on his wheel followed by Devan Van Vliet, Paul Mitchell and Rohan Hickey who had more than likely been more prominent but was missed in the run. Whilst Gavin Butler had made the race a true test of stamina one rider knowing he had to be cautious and not mix it early was David Hutton he along with our top female sprinter Gaby Thomasz would always have the edge if the race was turned into sprint to the line.
However the luck turn Rotten for Gaby when she came to grief at the top of the Straight, when manoeuvring into position Gaby crashed heavily on the corner. Sadly breaking a collarbone therefore putting paid to any chance of emulating her superb track form throughout 2018. As the rest of the field topped the rise the commentator roared,” here striking the front is David Hutton and no one will catch him now,” and catch him they didn’t as a heady ride saw David Hutton draw away for a convincing victory over Brady McIntyre and Steve Davies with fourth place going to Fred Boin just in advance of Rohan Hickey and Devan Van Vliet with a special mention to Alisha Wells who mixed it with the best for the entire journey.
Another grade strong in numbers when eleven lined up for their 30 minutes and three laps of the Woree course. This race again featuring riders reasonably new to the club. I refer to Peter Fitzpatrick, Russell McConaghy, Chris Atkins, Darren Cousins, David O’Gorman and Miguel Groth pitted against wily regulars in Tony Nastasi, Darren Smith, Brenton Koch, Gordon Paris and Super veteran Jeff (doc) Hartley. Race away and Darren Smith was quick off the mark along with Tony Nastasi and David O’Gorman with Chris Atkins also prominent along with Russell McConaghy and Darren Cousins. This group all worked solidly early being joined a little later by Brenton Koch, Jeff Hartley and Miguel Groth. All mentioned were in or near the lead throughout the run to the sprint lap. At the back Peter Fitzpatrick having his first ride with the club, will no doubt benefit from the hit out and although losing touch with the leaders much to the cheers of the large crowd showed no signs of pulling up as Peter kept on rolling. The sprint itself turned into one hec of a mess mainly for the course commentator as three grades managed to come up the Spotto straight together the Women, D Grade both being passed by B Grade. It was the perfect Storm for Jonesy as he threw papers in air in Despair, and in the wash it was established that Toni Nastasi had taken cash from either David O’Gorman or Miguel Groth however only the winner receives points.
Onward toward the final 3 laps Darren Cousins was indeed riding a strong first up race leading or near to as the race stated to heat up, and Darren had Tony Nastasi, Russell Mc Conaghy, and Brenton Koch for company with Miguel Groth edging his way into contention. So at the bell it was Cousins from Koch, McConaghy with Groth now at fourth wheel followed by Nastasi. With only this grade insight as they topped the rise THANK HEAVENS Tony Nastasi riding a great race was collared by young Miguel Groth who had ridden a brilliant tactical race by staying out of trouble early, and Miguel raced away to win the event from Tony Nastasi with Darren Cousins third. Fourth home was Brenton Koch just in front of Russell McConaghy.
The Women’s event was bolstered by the inclusion of the Women’s racing Team. Danielle Erskine, Michelle Trail, Kylie Anderson, Elizabeth Blooms and Terri Sullivan and they were joined by Track Rider Nicole Holt and having her first ever race Deena Keith. Through the opening laps all riders were pretty much together and obviously training together the colours of the Women’s Racing Team were prominent in swapping turns at the top Elizabeth Bloom, Kylie Anderson and Danielle Erskine kept the pace more than steady being closely attended by Terri Sullivan and Michelle Trail. Nicole Holt by this time had retired from the race, the noted track rider opting to preserve herself for Wednesday night’s track events, and first starter Deena Keith quickly became a crowd favourite, although well back was raising cheers of support each time Deena Past the Judges area. The Sprint went to Kylie Anderson from Elizabeth Blooms and Danielle Erskine. All Five team members had ridden extremely well together, and at the bell the order was Blooms from Anderson, Sullivan and Erskine with any one of them capable of taking the race. Into the straight and Kylie Anderson had taken control, and Kylie went on to defeat Elizabeth Blooms with Danielle Erskine third followed home by Terri Sullivan. This standalone women’s race was a marvellous success thanks to all seven riders taking part, and we can now look forward to even more numbers, turning the Women’s race into a classic part of the calendar.