SATURDAY’S ABC WITH BLUEY FORSYTH’S CYCLING SEGMENT ALLUDED TO THE FACT THAT THE A GRADE CRITERIUM COULD WELL BE A MATCH BETWEEN THE ASTUTE TEAM AND CP RACING. HOWEVER BOTH COMMENTATORS SUGGESTED THAT DURAJ (ASTUTE) AND HUBBARD (A SNEAKY ADDITION TO CP RACING) would be the main players in a cracking field at Woree on Sunday. Well they were half right. Yes it was a battle of the two mentioned teams however it was Brendon Skerke (Astute) and Damien Ingram (CP Racing) that wound into their work around lap seven to steadily increase the margin to have the race between them thereafter.

The opening lap had Tobia Kipper lead past the Judge in front of Gary Haydon, Matt Driver and Thomas Beddome having only his second ride with the club, Tomas being a member of the armed forces team (Navy) has recently arrived in Cairns and has been riding with success out of Canberra.

Early laps Bernard Cossar- Smith, Damien Ingram, Bart Duraj and Simon Hubbard were all prominent with Kipper and Haydon  all riders wondering who would make the first break, and tucked away mid field to the rear was the fastest man in Cairns, Track Star Brandon Hutton, all riders aware they didn’t want  Brandon near them in a sprint finish.  Sixth lap and Duraj momentarily looked like he would make a serious attempt but shortly after Bart was joined by teammate Skerke with a watchful Ingram poised to strike as they swept passed the judge at lap seven and strike he did pinching around 5 seconds however Skerke quickly reeled him in and through the ninth the pair led by a healthy 9 seconds being followed by Driver, Hutton and Beddome, this being a sprint lap saw Skerke and Ingram apply more pressure as they swung into Spotto St locked together with Damien Ingram Prevailing by a couple of bike lengths over Brendon Skerke they were followed by Matt Driver and Gary Haydon some twenty seconds astern.

From the 10th lap to 19 two out, Skerke and Ingram had lengthened their lead to an unassailable 40 seconds so it was indeed a CP Racing and an Astute team BATTLE with Ingram probably the superior sprinter, however Skerke using the race as a hit out for the up and coming CROC TROPHY was putting up a superb tough staying performance to keep smack on Ingram’s wheel as the bell sounded. Whilst the race in two was well up the road, a lot of interest was now centred on  who would fill the final podium position, with the chasing group being led at the bell by  Haydon, Duraj, Cossar – Smith , Hubbard and the dangerous Hutton still in contact it was anyone’s guess.

Swinging into Spotto, Damien Ingram had a narrow lead over Brendon Skerke with Damien leading  over the rise with Skerke right on his hammer, however over the concluding stages Ingram drew away to defeat Skerke by a couple of bike lengths with the pair putting up another thrilling exhibition of sustained speed and stamina. Now all eyes were glued on who may be next in, when appearing over the rise the unmistakable forms of Hubbard and Hutton were clearly visible and in a drive to the wire Brandon Hutton narrowly touched out Simon Hubbard to finish third with Tobia Kipper fifth.

The fastest lap recorded in the A division went to Brandon Hutton 2min. 26.5 whilst Simon Hubbard time of 2.26.7. You have the fastest track sprinter Brandon just in advance of arguably our fastest road sprinter Simon. Both finishing in blistering time albeit well behind the two tearaways.

B Grade

Ten riders all capable of acquitting themselves well in the top grade made for an exciting undercard. Quickly away Scott Beaven, Grahame Allen, Greg Hutton and Greg Reynolds sped through the opening lap determined to unsettle some of the riders that may be a little under done. However Tom Cook, Nathan Bursztynowicz and Neil Gregory were determined they were up for any challenge as were Gavin Butler, Michael Keatman and Brian Nesbit, so all riders through the first six laps were showing each could stand atop the podium. The Sprint lap in this race appeared to arrive earlier than expected and the order a lap out was Nathan Bursztynowicz leading from Tom Cook and Scott Beaven WITH THE REMAINDER BREATHING DOWN THEIR NECKS. Swinging into Spotto for the run for the coveted prize, four riders had singled out to sprint for the cash, with the very inform Scott Beaven upside with evergreen Grahame Allen with Tom Cook and Michael Keatman in close attendance and that was the order across the line adding another tick to the Scott Beaven regime. Sprint over and the PLAYMAKER Gavin Butler shot to the lead and pinched a few seconds on Reynolds, Allen, Hutton and Cook. Only Butler was merely testing the water as Cook, Reynolds and Beaven led through the 10th. However no sooner had Butler been caught he went again and again pegged back by Beaven, Allen and Reynolds all riders now wary of Gav Butlers CAT and MOUSE TACTICS remembering that not that long ago using similar tactics they just couldn’t catch him. Brian Nesbit also was looming as areal contender doing his share at the top. Not a single starter in this race was classed as a passenger as they whizzed through the 3 to go sign.

As Mundi Allen held up the two laps left sign Butler for the third time took the top spot a led by 5 seconds from Nesbit, Cook, Beaven and Gregory and by the time the bell was ringing, Reynolds led Butler with all TEN still a chance of winning. So with one of the most even races of the year the bikes disappeared toward PONZO St with spectators swapping notes. From the outset the hapless commentator had suggested that Beaven and Reynolds would be favourites to take the race but THE KISS OF DEATH rarely gets it right however this time swinging in for the run to the finish, Beaven and Reynolds were about to make that prediction happen with the two riders wheel for wheel over the rise with the late charging Nesbit about to spoil the soothsayers selections and in a three way drive to the line Greg Reynolds continued his outstanding form by getting the verdict by little more than a tyres width over Scott Beaven with Brian Nesbit inches away third next in followed Neil Gregory and Grahame Allen. The Fastest lap time going to Grahame Allen who is really starting to get near his best form after a brief sojourn to the south of England.  

C Grade

A mammoth field of 18 staters faced Commissaire Richie Bates, with this division sporting two newcomers to the tricky Woree circuit. Drew Burgess and Jeremy Wienert both riders having their first go at a Criterium. Away went the big bunch and instantly Chris Chastre showed his intentions would be based on aggression as he rolled to the front and through the early laps Chris would be joined by Russell Eustace, Alan Clarke and Andy Mills and this early pace was akin to a B Grade race. Later through the first 4or 5 laps Idan Piercy, Demien Bullock, Jason Whiteside and Paul Mitchell would also figure in vying to be in and around the leading bunch.

Lap out from the SPRINT lap Mark Procter, Gaby Thomasz and Steven Davies were amongst the leaders and with the size of the field this Sprint was holding a lot of interest. However swinging into Spotto and up over the rise the imposing figure of Chris Chastre was clearly visible and sprinting quickly Chastre cleared out and easily took the honours from Steven Davies and Jason Whiteside both placegetters putting up strong performances behind the charging Chastre. Noticeable at this point were two of the race favourites Nick Massaso and Matt Grillo not wanting a part of the early action obviously saving themselves for a crack at line honours and Gaby Thomasz although having done some work was content to stay out of the sprinting fireworks.

However the brisk pace was taking its toll on Michael Etherington and Julie Scharf as the popular pair started to drift off the back. The next few laps Idan Piercy, Andrew Mills, Demian Bullock, Steven Davies and Russell Eustace were in or near the front driving a pretty hot pace and at this point Nick Masasso was edging closer however Chris Chastre was always visible doing a power of work. Three Laps out the order was Chastre, Bullock and Eustace and a packed field behind. Two out Eustace had assumed control followed by Bullock, Masasso, Mills and Thomasz. As the big field passed the judges area with one to go the exact order was Chris Chastre back on top, second wheel sat Russell Eustace closely followed by Gaby Thomasz, Andrew Mills, Mark Procter and Steven Davies but the mob behind were pressing hard. So disappearing toward the back straight all spectators were expecting the CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE when they entered the straight, and that is what they had as riders were spread right across the track virtually gutter to gutter. Chastre had stayed in front and kept the pace up around the back. Hot on his wheel were Gaby Thomasz, with others slowly drawing level, virtually having sprinter Gaby Thomasz boxed in, when Matt Grillo jumped out of his seat and went underneath the bunch into the corner.

The Caller had no trouble in spotting the aggressive Chris Chastre looking for a fleeting moment that he would pick the Sprint and Line Honours however, there was a huge pack out after him. Weaving through the pack and sprinting brilliantly emerged Matt Grillo, whilst back on the outside copping aforementioned traffic problems before heading in the corner, came the perennial placegetter Gaby Thomasz also rocketing home. Nothing between Chastre and Grillo near the line, with Matt Grillo overpowering Chris Chastre on the line with Demien Bullock fourth, next in was Jason Whiteside. Matt Grillo tactically got it right coming home the last lap in 2min .37 very comparable with Grahame Allen’s B Grade lap time 2.35.4. Top efforts in this race certainly the most aggressive to Chris Chastre and  Gaby Thomasz this is her fifth placing without a win in her last five races also Demien Bullock certainly has his foot in the till with a return something like his best form.

D grade

A Disappointing field of only 3 starters, Jeff Hartley a mere 70 odd years young. Coming back after a nasty back injury Scott Carson and New Comer in Cheyne Colley. Easy to report this, the three stuck together for the lead up to the sprint where Scott Carson narrowly took the title from Cheyne Colley with Jeff Hartley Close up in third place. From then on though Jeff Hartley continued to stay in touch although Colley and Carson were edging away. However it wasn’t long after the Sprint that Scott had to retire due to the state of his back injury leaving Cheyne to clear out and win easily from Jeff who I note is really riding well as he heads for a crack at forthcoming Masters Events. Hopefully Scott can overcome his injuries and we see him back on the bike soon. Cheyne was a welcome addition to our riding ranks and hopefully we can give him a few more entries in our next D grade race.

Fastest lap time to Scott Carson 2 min 56.6

Huge Congrats to Luke for fantastic win at the Darren Smith Classic he simply destroyed them, and FOR putting CAIRNS FAIR ON THE MAP – Don and James for their outstanding effort at the Asian Pacific Masters. Gold and Bronze it doesn’t get much better than that.