Round 4 at Coventry

The Coventry track started out almost bone dry after morning rain for this fourth round Grand Prix of 2015, but it didn’t take long for the storm clouds to gather and do a little light sprinkling. There was another storm brewing at ground level, but more of that in a second…

I know the preference is for five rides per rider especially when most riders have travelled a good old distance to take part, but personally I prefer to see four riders in a race if possible and we have a small array of race formulae freely available which allow for less than 16 riders and look better on track with a full turnout, at least in most heats. It’s never good to see 2-man races in a full individual event. That tentative query aside, once again the racing was keen, to say the least.

Another change made today from Head Honcho (but missing today) Fred Rothwell’s normal and preferred methods was to intertwine all the races, so heat one of the Over 40s was followed by heat one of the 50s&60s, de da de da. At least one Over 60 competitor wasn’t enthralled about this system after having to rerun a completed three lapper! I’m sure the overall preference is for races to be well spread out, four Over 40s then four Over 50s etc. especially for the older leg carriers amongst the travelling circus. Could have been a tactical decision, who knows? Surely not in this Gentlemen’s branch of Short Track Racing!

Off we go!

2014 Runner-Up Martyn Hollebon attempted to go around fast starting Norman Venson in the Over 40s opener but Norman held him off for a great win with the all-action Mick Knowles and Eddie Ridley battling for third spot.

Time for the Over 50s & 60s to get underway and it did in a very eventful manner, not normally witnessed in the older category. Home hero Joe McLaughlin led away from the second bend with Kevin Greaves, Phil Hemming and Terry Kirkup fighting for second place and after three laps worth of repeated attempts by Phil to get underneath Kevin he finally got alongside with Terry doing the same to him.

Crash, bang, wallop

What for a moment looked like a very exciting finish and anybody’s guess with three riders abreast was brought to a violent halt with a very abrupt left turn by Kevin from mid-track on the unsuspecting other two. Phil was battered into Terry and ultimately came down very hard going into turn three, while the Northumbrian on the inside was heaved onto the rain-lubed inner kerb and just managed to stay upright on the sodden grass! There was a hushed expectation of an exclusion but Referee Bobby McMillan saw nothing wrong with the move and allowed the finishing order to stand.

Fortunately Phil recovered from that nasty spill which proved to be the only real downside to this round, the weather not great but hark back to Glasgow last year or Northumbria this year and it seems pretty good by comparison.

Dave Frith and Paddy Wenn scorched away to lead Over 40s hotshots Dave Meanley and Jason Keith in heat two while in the 5060 set Steve Hodgkinson continued his brilliant home form to head teammate Bob Prince with Martin Glover and Jim Graham trailing.

40s heat three could have been a scorcher had not Craig Marchant moved at the tapes, leaving Champion Mark Winwood to fend off a very quick looking Pete Chant before Mick Aris capitalised on Paul Timm’s leg injury which is really hampering his starting this season. However, this was only after a re-run had been called at the end of lap three with Paul and Ray Pike clashing. Mick was understandably upset at having to do it all again with his next race not far away!

Everyone had now had a ride and in the Over 40s the ultimate three top scorers had shown their intentions with a win each. Craig won his next three races before doughnutting in his fourth on the last bend lap three and missing the finish, while a flying Paddy Wenn and Jason Keith added a couple of wins each. While this was all going on, EV traveller supreme Martyn Hollebon didn’t look his normal self, especially from the tapes but with some stiff competition added to this round he wasn’t alone finding points hard to come by with Dave Frith, Craig and Paddy looking well up for honours.

Back to the Fifties and Sixties and Bob Prince soon asserted his authority on the field and again justifying all that hard training, He dropped just that opener to Steve while there was a right old scrabble going on behind him for places in the “A” Finals. In the 50s it was led by home favourite Joe McLaughlin but while he nailed 16 points to his tally, it was matched by Mick, Steve and Terry so something had to give. And it looks like that something may have been a Geordie! (editor crosses fingers here).

Shock, Horror!

This is the original match programme, and you can see a Geordie’s name crossed out of the “A” Final list in position two.


Now see this:


That’s four riders on 16 points.
Each rider got two wins
Each rider got two seconds
Each rider got one third

Which THREE do YOU reckon go into the “A” Final with Bob Prince? Answers on a tenner.
(didn’t notice this until doing the report on Sunday night at 9 o’clock – hope I’m right!) {and if I am someone else has my trophy! - which incidentally were very nice Joe}.

But I digress.

So the Over 60s “A” Final was first, and Bob used the perfect tactics to keep Terry behind him with Mick and Jim Graham following in formation. Not much else to say.

We had to run the Over 40s “B” Final next to be fair on TK as he was in the scheduled 50s “B”, and in this one Pete completed his great afternoon by easing to the win with plenty of passing going on behind, Jason getting the verdict over Martyn and Dave at the flag after a whole wedge of place swapping. Got to say Coventry’s track does generate some great line opportunities.

Wheelspin cost Terry his chance off grid one in the 50s “B” Final, Paul taking full advantage to lead home Kevin and Phil. (just as well as I shouldn’t have been in it!). In the “A” Final Bob proved supreme once more to win easily while behind him there was plenty of action after Steve had miscalculated his outside run allowing Kevin and Mick to hold him off to the end.

Time for the Grand Finale, the Over 40s “A” Final. Who could stop Mark taking another win? No-one. Our series leader made no mistake off grid one with a super start, leaving a very rapid Dave to shake off the attentions of both Norman and Paddy, another very entertaining final to cap a great day’s racing.

Thanks are due to Joe and his team of helpers, especially to the lady and her offspring who erected the gazebo for the pits cover, it sure came in handy when the waters broke!

E & O E