DURAJ WRAPS UP THE SERIES, HOWEVER AZZOPARDI TAKES THE LAST LEG IN A STAR STUDDED A GRADE FINAL AT WOREE ON SUNDAY. SIX OF OUR BEST including the very recent National Masters King, Damien Ingram, super consistent riders Kieran Mouldey and Linc Carolan add to that the two top Aussie finishes in the WORLD REKNOWN CROC TROPHY, Bart Duraj and Brendon Skerke plus THE U/17 STATE ROAD CHAMP Luke Azzorpardi, so this final leg of the series was pure class.
The six riders served out a lesson to all competitors wishing to compete at this level by setting a scorching pace through the opening laps, with Brendon Skerke the first to make an early break, Skerke’s lead edged out to around a 8 seconds and he held that for a few laps until strong work from Ingram, Mouldey and Carolan reeled him in. Pace for the small field was still strong when Luke Azzopardi took off and established a 12 second break and he keep this up for a few laps. This time Bart Duraj played a big part of bringing the young rider back to the pack not before the reigning junior ROAD Champ collected the sprint money. The day was HOT the pace was HOT and the brutal endurance needed to excel in the Croc Trophy finally put paid to Brendon Skerke and with a wry smile exited the race. The next to drop out of contention was the National Masters Champion of Champions, Damien Ingram after putting up a herculean effort in South East Gippsland, Damien gently slipped of the back. Rumours of Mad Monday celebrations of the successful Cairns Crew WERE being thrown around as the reason THE CREATURE still rolling, had left his legs in Paynesville.
The race now between four had tongues wagging as to who should win, with the learned crowd split between Azzopardi and Duraj however Carolan and Mouldey were at this point in the race up to their ears. As the foursome left on the final lap heading for the back straight. The spectators didn’t have long to wait as the four riders started up the rise in the Spotto Straight, with the bright orange and Yellow colours of Luke Azzopardi surging to the lead with Bart Duraj in hot pursuit, but the Young Gordonvale rider went on to win his first A Grade Criterium from Bart with Kieran Mouldey and Linc Carolan close up in third and Fourth Spots. A fantastic to win to the up and coming Azzopardi who in his last criterium at the course failed to finish. Luke drew some very favourable comments from Bart who easily took the series win.
11 Riders faced the starter with only one point separating three riders in Scott Beaven, Brian Nesbit and Kieran Harrison for series honours. This race was a very even contest with most riders content to stick together through most laps, although the pace was more than generous mainly due to the usual suspects of Gavin Butler, Scott Beaven, Kieran Harrison and Tom Cook, however in the later stages of the race Don Huyser, Grahame Allen and Rod Larcombe were prominent. Coming into the sprint the nominal favourites of Greg Hutton, Rod Larcombe and Alex Starmer weren’t in the hunt as the very in form Harrison packed too many guns and comfortably took the cash from Tom Cook and Grahame Allen with Brian Nesbit in fourth place.
As the race progressed A few short bursts from Butler and Beaven put added spice into the race, but generally it was all together boys. However heading for home a lap out Tom Cook shot clear in the Ponzo back straight and caught a few riders by surprise. This move from Cook stirred Nesbit into action as off the saddle he started to reel in Cook however right behind Nesbit jumping on his wheel were Harrison and Allen with the rest of the field in close attendance. So all eyes on the entrance of the straight when bursting into clear air Harrison had assumed control, and from then on Kieran rode away to win the double, (Sprint and Race) therefore clinching the PRIME spot on the podium. Second in the race was Rod Larcombe followed home by Brian Nesbit Grahame Allen and Alex Starmer.
Fifteen entries the largest field for the day were away. Riders through the opening laps to be up and near the pace were Idan Piercy, Alan Clarke, Andrew Mills, Chris Chastre (top of the leader board) and Drew Burges, not to be outdone Mark Procter, Steven Davies and the two Jason’s – Smith and Whiteside were also making their presence felt. Later a couple out from the sprint Russell Eustace and Josh Raynor were also in forward positions. The rest of the field were content to watch what was unfolding from midfield to the rear. Past the judges box a lap out with the SPRINT in mind the order was Jason Smith on top from Idan Piercy, Jason Whiteside, Steve Davies and Josh Raynor and right on their wheels were the remaining ten. This dash for cash was going to be congested, and crammed they were with riders swarming all over the Spotto Straight and it was hard to pick a leader, until the caller noticed Smith and Whiteside fighting it out with Piercy, Raynor and Davies close up, in the drive to the wire it was a strong sprinting performance by Jason Smith, TAKING the prize from Piercy and Whiteside followed by Davies and Raynor.
Sprint over and TO THE BELL LAP from laps 7 to twelve, it was the above mentioned riders swapping turns, at first Eustace then Chastre, Jason Smith and Procter with finally a new name in the top five Mark Knowles who was sneaking into the picture. Just prior the bell Veteran Mick Mehonoshen swept up and momentarily struck the front and right at the bell Steven Davies led Mick followed by Jason Smith, Jason Whiteside and Josh Raynor. At this point of the race a voice from the back of the caller was heard to say “what price will anyone give me David Hutton “alerting the man on the mike to instantly realize though the pace was OK, THIS RECENT WINNER OF THE Cairns Cup on Wheels hadn’t spent a penny in the run and there wasn’t anyone in this field that could outsprint David Hutton. For at this point David had been SMOKING THE CHERRY WOOD for the entire race AND WAS ABOUT TO UNLEASH. I might add the man from the back didn’t get his bet on. Into the straight and David Hutton topped the rise a clear leader and won the race sprinting away from Chris Chastre, Chris was followed home in third spot by Steven Davies just in front of Jason Whiteside and Josh Raynor. A win to David, however the series to Chris Chastre who has been riding in superb form this season.
Only three faced off for the final with Michael Etherington having beaten off all challengers over the three race series only having to complete the course to claim an easy series win. This Michael achieved by taking the sprint comfortably over Brenton Koch and Jim Larcombe. Michael showed his authority by having the race in his keeping from the sprint to the finish where he drew right away to claim the victory and Series. Brenton, who with only a hand full of rides with the club and is improving all the time finished in second place followed home by crowd favourite Jim Larcombe who is only recently back on the bike after a nasty crash at Smith Park which left Jim in Hospital with a broken pelvis.
Thanks to our special volunteers and to the coffee girls Debbie and Vanessa. Until next time.