DISCUSSION AT THE ABC STUDIOS SATURDAY MORNING centred on the possibility of a Paul Mashford and Simon Hubbard rematch. Given the heads up from a mystery tipster, Bluey Forsyth and Jonesy forecast that the pair may well repeat the 17th of March Criterium result. Although the Soothsayers didn’t take in to account that Linc Carolan may wreck their predictions. However in a fabulous contest the local Grandstand show got it right as SIMON HUBBARD, THIS TIME TURNED THE TABLES on PAUL MASHFORD in a Woree thriller on Sunday.

AWAY and Brenden Skerke, Damien Ingram and Gavin Taylor were quick to show they weren’t there to make up the numbers as they sped through the first couple of laps, although Brendon was quick to point out that this may be the only time he sits atop of the leader board. Prominent early, were the ORANGE colours of Graham Grant and Linc Carolan and first to have crack was in fact Carolan closely watched by Ingram. Andrew Harper and Gary Haydon were slightly disadvantaged, as this time the pacesetters often used by the duo were on the sidelines sipping Lattes, of course referring to Shane Gelling and Tobia Kipper.

Through laps four and five, Ingram tested the water for a short time with Skerke, Grant and the man we simply call JO (the South Korean lad who was having only his third ride in Cairns) JO being elevated to the A’S due to a late arrival on course and he was followed through by Gary Haydon. However shortly after Gavin Taylor and Ingram started to inch out with Haydon Joining, making an ominous trio. The Peloton in chase, sensing danger, brought them back before Ingram attacked again sweeping out Salter Close and grabbing a sizable lead. The headwind into Spotto picked up through the race and was going to be a stumbling block for the Quality field of 13 which included James Bartell a recent arrival from the Northern Territory.

Through the sixth lap the top order was Haydon, Taylor, Andrew Harper, Ingram, Skerke and Alex Ikeda. Then Ingram again pinched another small break from this time, Duncan Murray in hot pursuit followed by Grant and Carolan. Lap nine and racing past C GRADE Lincoln Carolan whipping past the trio of Ingram, Murray and Grant surged to the front followed through by Paul Mashford their hot pace was unmatched and the elastic began to stretch. Not wanting to see an opportunity slip, Simon Hubbard made his attempt to bridge to the new leaders. Once again Ingram followed however his early work must have taken a bit of a toll, as Simon drifted one way and Damien was swallowed by the pack. Simon’s hard work paid off as he managed to grab the duo in front and now they’re were three out front.

The gap stayed at around twenty seconds for the next few laps with James Bartell, the new boy on the block, trying to rally the troops however with Murray, Taylor and Ingram appearing the only ones willing to have ago into the ever-increasing wind, the second half of the group seemed content to follow wheels. So the SPRINT ON LAP 11 was really who wanted it as Mashford held off Hubbard and Carolan then a long way back to Haydon and Murray. Sprint well over Ingram, Taylor and Bartell regularly made the top of the chase group but with little unity, the lead group of Mashford, Carolan and Hubbard started to creep away. LAP BY LAP second by second the leading trio were increasing their lead.

Coming to the bell lap, there was a massive interest into which one of the three would grab line honours. In the last CRIT Mashford was seen throwing the BOUQUET to Hubbard but was he going to let this happen again? Coming off Ponzo on to Spotto, Hubbard had manoeuvred to the back, with Carolan leading Mashford for the sprint. As they hit the crest, it was once again a two horse race, with Mashford in front and inch by inch Simon Hubbard drawing up on his outside, and this time with Simon’s audible self-urging, Hubbard drew level and got up on the line by around half a wheel. With Lincoln Carolan back in third place.

30 seconds back, the race was still on. The ever wily Gary Haydon managed to sneak off the front but Murray knew the dangers set with 1km to go and was on his game. Going all out Duncan rolled Gary for the lead and smashed the last 500 metres, a steaming Ingram, had little left in the tank, and left his run too late, unable to bridge the gap. The group underestimating Duncan Murray’s staying power, taking best of the rest.


A WHOPPING FIELD OF 22 RIDERS left under the orders of starter Al Hodge. The big field including the elevation of star juniors Luke Azzarpardi and Kane Hodge hardened warriors in Grahame Allen, Mick Mehonoshon, Mark Smedts, Gavin Butler, Greg Hutton and track star Rod Larcombe as well as Globe-trotting endurance wonder Fiona Yard and eleven other strong riders, all with solid claims for success and BOY WE HAD A RACE.  Bursting to an immediate impressive lead was Bernard Cossar- Smith in the company of Mick Mehonoshon and Fiona Yard and rounding STEEL LINE CORNER Fiona had swept to the front.

Mark Smedts then Josh Raynor had their turn at the helm passing the judges box with Allen, Malcolm Lindsay and Shawn Garraway in close attendance. Cossar- Smth led for the next couple and Mal Lindsay always close to the action he took over from Fiona Yard, Jamie Holman, Gavin Butler and Allen. With Yard and Lindsay setting a sizzling pace assisted by Holman they in turn were joined by  the Knight boys Grant and Mitchell the pace at this point around 38 km/hr, low flying indeed for this grade.

The first casualty arrived with young track gun David Hutton paying the price for a lay off the bike due to year 12 studies. David from this point was simply going around for practice and shortly after another in need of the hit out saw Andrei Tonello call it a day. Closing in on the sprint lap Paul Thusen emerged as a contender as did Yard, Lindsay and Allen with Butler and Smedts on their Wheels. Thusen then led around Steel Line Corner, so the wait was on. Swinging into Spotto and up the rise suddenly into view was the unmistakable form of Luke Azzarpardi, who probably had never experienced the solid pace on offer, this being his first go at this grade having dominated D and C Grades in recent times, and showing ALL he had no fears of the new company he was keeping, rode away to take the Sprint from Paul Thusen second followed by Greg Hutton and Fiona Yard.

Sprint gone and Mal Lindsay took control to sneak a 5 second break from Jamie Holman now back in the fray with Yard and Mitchell Knight right behind. Fiona reeling Lindsay back in with the support of Grant Knight, Thusen, Cossar- Smith and Allen. It was all these riders mentioned to date doing a power of work leading into the final 3 laps. Now every rider mentioned in this report thus far had been very noticeable. However one rider rolling along midfield or worse who hadn’t really shown out, was lurking waiting his chance to blow the race apart if the pace would only slacken and slacken it did just for a couple of laps, I refer to former Cairns Cup on Wheels Kieran Champion ROD (Don’t let me be close up the rise) Larcombe.

The order one lap out passed the judges box Thusen led from Lindsay, Yard, Garraway, Greg Hutton, Allen and Mitchell Knight. Swinging into Spotto for the final time the large field made a fabulous flash of colour as sets of lycra topped the crest. However BOOMING down the centre of the road came the bright red colours of ROD LARCOMBE overtaking a brave Paul Thusen. Larcombe using his massive gear raced on to take the race from Thusen third place went to Grant Knight and he was followed by Shawn Garraway riding yet another very consistent race just in front of Jamie Holman.

Rod in his own words said had the pace not eased a couple out “I WAS DONE, THIS WAS A PRETTY HECTIC PACE’’. Rod was right as Grahame Allen revealed the race averaged out at 39.5 km/h.


Twelve Lined up for the start of this race including relative newcomers to the circuit in Damien Newton, Gerard Walsh, Mel Pryde, Adam Dunn, and Graham Jensen having only his third shot at the Woree course. However Mark Procter was first past the judges Box on lap 1 followed by Alex Hall, Al Hodge, Adam Dunn and Gary Perkins, but the 12 riders were only about 6 bike lengths from top to bottom. Alex Hall was very prominent early and she was being joined at times by TODD Hartley, Dunn and Perkins with Mack proctor and Kath Deed in the mix.

Sweeping around Steel Line Corner on lap five Gary Perkins showing his recent visits to the track were paying dividends as he and Al Hodge led the way with Alex Hall and Todd Hartley prominent. Through the next couple of laps leading to the sprint, no much change to the order with Al Hodge seeming the likely Lad to take Sprint points. So over the rise for the Sprint forging to the lead a rejuvenated Gary Perkins UPSET the authors predictions and took the win over Al Hodge third spot went to Gerard Walsh just in front of Mel Pryde.

Sprint over and the wily Hodge took off and set up a decent break, and for the next 3 laps had a 13 sec or so break with Mark Procter and Mel Pryde doing the bulk of the chasing. With AL’S lead being sustained, joining the TOP OF THE PACK CHASING, HEADING TOWARD THE LAST THREE LAPS were Alex Hall, Kath Deed and Ethan Chamberlain they were all working hard to reel the breakaway Hodge in, and with three to go they got him . Though caught Al wasn’t done with yet and with only two to go and all back together the order was Hodge, Procter, Pryde, Deed and Hall.

The bell lap and Kath Deed had taken the poll spot from Mel Pryde, Ethan Chamberlain looking somewhat of a danger and then Al Hodge seeking his second wind. Disappearing toward Ponzo St many thought Al Hodge had spent his pennies due to his early and strong breakaway, as Procter, Hall Deed and now Chamberlain were seeming to be the fresh legs on the scene. Into the straight Procter, Hall, Pryde were in top positions however we mentioned second wind WELL IT MUST HAVE been MARIA as Hodgy loomed up swept to the front and landed the BISCUITS in a great ride second to Mark Procter and third over the line was Alex Hall just in front of Ethan Chamberlain and they were followed home by Mel Pryde, Gerard Walsh and Kath Deed in a very entertaining C grade.



Again mixed together we had a combined total of five only riding however this group probably bring more spectators than most with blokes jumping on the bikes for their first season of riding or some on the comeback trail and ditto the women, most in this grade are very new to the sport and are improving every time they go around and they usually have a decent support team.

So the Field – Michael Etherington 1st season, Tony Nastasi Comeback Trail, Adam Ewart brand new to the circuit and our two women Julie Scharf and Jaime Thurtell both in their second only season of competition. So off they went and through the early laps they were stuck together like glue. Probably if I had to pick a rider more prominent than the others I say that Tony Nastasi certainly did his share however all riders at some stage poked their bib in front, and were part of the leading bunch all the way to the sprint.

Lap 4 and Tony Nastasi had a small lead from Adam Ewart Julie Scharf, Jaime Thurtell and Michael Etherington watching it all unfold in front of him, however nothing between first and last. So to the Sprint, a terrific sight as the five riders topped the rise together with Michael Etherington edging away to take the honours from Adam Ewart, Julie Scharf and Jaime Thurtell.

Sprint well over and Adam Ewart had control in a packed field as he led Julie Scharf and Michael Etherington parked up third followed by Jaime and Tony. Anyone’s guess as they left Ponzo St behind them on their last lap. To this point it was blanket stuff but now the race was on. Entering the straight all five in with a show with Julie Scharf looking a big chance TO UPSTAGE MEN only to have her hopes dashed by the finishing power of Etherington and Ewart and they went on to quinella the race with Michael defeating Adam and Julie close up in third spot next was Tony and Jaime both putting up bold performances. It was a good win for Michael who has come on in leaps and bounds since his debut ride at Bramston last year.

Official Placings D grade Michael Etherington 1st Adam Ewart 2nd Tony Nastasi 3rd

Women Julie Scharf 1st Jaime Thurtell 2nd.

Again a great day made possible by our fantastic volunteers. Mundi, Kim, Ian, Al and Greg and all I’ve missed.

Until next time Jonesy.

 Ps keep listening to ABC FAR NORTH every Sat morning around 9.50 am  

Al Hodge  – MARIA from Paint Your Wagon ( you know a way out west they’ve got a name for wind so on )