Report from 3318news.co.uk
Terry Kirkup of Northumbria has sent us his final instalment of Eurovets coverage for the 2014 series, with another fantastic, in-depth analysis on what has been a well organised and enjoyable campaign for all involved. Many thanks once again Terry.
So after what seems like a fairly long season, largely due to the amount of travelling involved for all the regular Euro-Vets competitors, we arrived at the Grand Finale staged by the ever-so-professional (normally I’d shudder at the very idea, but you all know what I mean!) Wednesfield CSC on a day blessed with dry weather, and just the blustery wind to deal with. The wind, in fact, played a major part in proceedings with many re-runs necessary after riders caught their helmets on the rising tapes. Helmets WITHOUT PEAKS, may I add!!! (yes, that is indeed me getting another dig at the ridiculously outdated and unnecessary helmet peak rule, the repeal of which is long overdue).
Great to see Norman Venson parading his new artificial hip around the place today, we’ve missed him lately!
Today saw the Series hardcore riders back on track with a disappointingly low number of additions, which meant another mixed-age event, Fred Rothwell again having to split us all up into two groups using the 9-man 12 heat format and running three heats from each group alternately. Not ideal with Very Old Men (VOMs?) having to race Sweet Young Things but it does at least give older legs a chance to recover with decent gaps between rides.
Wednesfield’s shape and size make it a track best suited to regular visitors but it still provided some exciting moments as the EVs went on a points quest, some a bit more anxious than others to improve their overall scores.
Hellingly’s Martin Hollebon and Northumbria’s Jason Keith were the only two ever-presents in this years event but even without each having to drop their lowest scores the flying Mark Winwood of Birmingham was already this year’s Champion before turning a wheel here, so prolific has he been in top scoring. However, things didn’t go quite so smoothly this time for Mark, his hard-worked and Elite League hammered drivetrain letting him down as Jason Keith chased him in the heats. Jason and I did in fact both slow to see if Mark could scoot it to the flag but it was locked up so he dropped valuable points and missed the “A” Final for the first time this year.
Meanwhile, Martin Hollebon was again cracking in the wins with some superb gating in Group One, with Pete Chant again on song and Over 50s leader Paul Timms right there with them. In Group Two, Sheffield’s returning star Jason Burke continued his impressive EV performances here heading Jason Keith and only losing to Mark, with rapid homester Dave Meanley next up and the other Sheffield man Mick Knoowles obviously enjoying his new Archie Wilkinson mount around Ashmore Park’s wide open spaces.
There was plenty of action a bit lower down with Eddie Ridley again demonstrating how fit he’s getting and thus faster with each meeting, and Jim Collier was also winding it up on his new Archie, he and fellow Swindon racer Paul Matthews having a great scrap as they managed to move each other offline in heat 8 enough for the ever watchful Northumbrian Jim Graham to sneak under both on the run to the line in one of the best finishes of the day, to much applause.
Nobody likes repecharge races but they were again necessary today to sort out the finalists. The victorious few joined seeded riders Martin Hollebon, Jason Burke, Paul Timms and Phil Hemming in the 40s and 50s “A” Finals respectively while the losers together with the unfortunate Mark Winwood filled the “B” Final slots. The 60s “A” Final was easy to fill as there were only four contestants.
Jason Burke was tremendous around the first bend in the 40’s “A” Final off grid one to head home the closely following trio of Martin, the other Jason and Pete for a well deserved if somewhat unexpected win. The “B” Final went to Mark Winwood as a consolation prize, mounted on a very strange looking machine borrowed from an old Viking. Just behind him, Dave was chased hard by Mick with Eddie giving it his all for three laps before fatigue set in!
The 50s “A” Final had a familiar look, but Paul Timms once again proved unstoppable, his gating prowess shooting him out in front of Phil Hemming while the now customary scrap ensued behind with Steve Hodgkinson, seeking to ensure his Series Runner-Up spot, battling around the outside of Terry Kirkup for three laps until making the inevitable overtake to relegate the interloper to last place. The “B” Final saw local hero Mick Aris, back from that horrible calf injury, rocket into the lead with Fred Rothwell seeing off the challenges of Paul Matthews and Jim Graham to rousing applause.
Mick repeated the performance in the Over 60’s “A” Final with a gentle nudge on the first bend leaving Terry with too much catchup work, as he just managed to stay ahead of Fred and Jim to the flag. Such a shame that Mick missed the previous four rounds, as at least one podium may have looked different today!
So finally we had the Series winners sorted out, with the virtually untouchable Mark Winwood topping out the Over 40s to become 2014 Champion. Paul Timms has been outstanding all season giving the 40s a good run for their money while easily outgunning the rest of the older groups to take the Over 50s Championship comfortably. And with Mick’s injury creating extra chances for the OAPs it came down to a 3-way race between Grand Veterans (I think that’s what they’re known as now) Fred Rothwell, Jim Graham and Terry Kirkup with the latter just squeezing in enough points to take the 2014 Over 60s title.
Over 60’s Champion Terry Kirkup, Over 50s Champion Paul Timms and 40s Champion Mark Winwood proudly wearing their TLI Cycling Champion’s jerseys and displaying their winner’s trophies after the Wednesfield presentations.
Another great day of Old Folk’s Racing steered along nicely by the ever-jolly Fred Rothwell and run like clockwork by Roger Ellis and his team of helpers. Roger paid tribute to Fred following the last race and presented him with a card and a small token of our group appreciation for what he’s done for the Sport and the Charity.
After the prizegiving we retired to some British Legion Club hundreds of corners from Ashmore where the Aces had laid on another welcome feast for their visitors. Thanks to Mark Winwood who drove slowly enough for Jason to keep up with him (same old story on track!). The feed was greatly appreciated by travellers and locals alike, and the principal activity was conducted by Mick Knowles assisting Fred in counting the contents of our Orchid Male Cancer Charity’s collection boxes.
It looks like we again raised over six hundred pounds for Orchid from not a massive number of competitors and supporters who bought raffle tickets as we moved around the country between staging Clubs. Well done to all concerned and roll on 2015!