Kev is King of Cramlington - again!
First I’d like to say “Thank You” on behalf of the Euro-Vets to Richie Smith of sustainable transport company Action Streets Limited. Richie sponsored today’s meeting and dedicated the proceedings to his long-time friend Andy Giesel from Germany who lost his life to cancer last year. Andy ran a bike shop over there (photo below) and Richie was certain he’d have loved to try our little Sport. As always, whatever cash we raise over the GP Series will go to the Orchid Fighting Male Cancer charity so this was a very appropriate and much appreciated gesture by Richie.
A club that supports any event as well as Leicester supports the Euro-Vets deserves to reap the rewards and the Monarchs sure did today. Even allowing for the absence of Mark Whitehead from the “A” Final Leicester still provided THREE of the top five finishers at a very dusty, windy and cool Cramlington.
Reigning World and Euro-Vet Champion Craig Marchant ran a third in an extremely tough opening heat against Kev Burns and Birmingham’s Mark Winwood in what looked an unbelievably rapid tussle on a surface which didn’t look too grippy, being scraped rather than swept as per our new “Save our Surface” strategy at Northumbria. However he then went on to record four straight wins.
All of the clashes between the ultimate top scoring sextet were pretty exciting affairs and at the end of the 20 heats two had won four races and three had won a trio of theirs making it extremely tight for “A” Final qualification. The thorn in a few sides came from a slightly surprising performance (given his circumstances) by a Euro-Vet regular, none other than home hero Jason Keith. He arrived at the track minutes before starting time coming straight from work in his overalls, still not over recent discomfort and obviously tired. That didn’t stop him producing what we know he can this time, beating Martyn Hollebon in heat 3 and producing one of the best rides of the day to fend off the two Marks in his last ride to reach the “A” Final for the first time since last year’s Northumbria event. Coincidentally the only “A” Final Martyn missed out on last year was – Northumbria! And speaking of tired, Kev hadn’t slept for 36 or 37 hours and had just been collected at the airport by his Leicester buddies before being whisked Up North for this!
While 2015 Champion Mark Winwood had a disastrous run of bad luck last year his 2017 campaign got off to a great start with this display which saw him level with Craig and Jason going into the Finals. Heat one had these two plus Kev in a cracker to open the day’s racing but at the half way point of the meeting it was last year’s Northumbria E-V 4th placed Mark Whitehead who was the only unbeaten rider with three straight wins, being the only rider to lower Kev’s colours in a close-fought heat 9. Martyn Hollebon was slightly hampered by gate positions while taking his first very hard four rides, not winning a race until heat 18 and so missing out on the “A” Final again.
Of the rest Eddie Ridley headed the list ahead of the usual bustling, all-action Mick Knowles (great to see him fit enough to ride after a health scare), a much fitter and faster looking Jim Collier and locals Paul Thompson and meeting sponsor Richie Smith chasing hard in a very tough event for them.
Top Four podium with Richie Smith. JP Colback had a hand in this photograph!
As the meeting went on there was a build-up of fine dust but though there may have been reservations (I didn’t hear any negative comments myself, hoping I’d explained the situation clearly enough in my programme notes) I couldn’t see it holding anyone back, all the Over 40 lads in particular travelling very rapidly throughout the meeting, as were the top Over 50s.
While the Over 40 contingent of Monarchs were plundering the top spots again, the same was happening in the Over 50s where current Champion Norman Venson and 2016 runner-up Dave Frith were both unbeaten by a non-Monarch, poor Dave suffering the ignominy of blowing straight through the tapes in his final ride after handing Norman his only defeat earlier, leaving Referee Keith Dyer little choice but to exclude him. Fortunately for Dave, next best scorers Glyn Morgan, John Wilson and Terry Kirkup were still a point adrift so he made the “A” Final as last man. However luck deserted him there also when a lockup cost him position, “Stormin’ Norman” streaking away to take the win from Norwich ace Paddy Wenn, now promoted into the Over 50’s by way of an extra, potentially unwelcome birthday.
Who's the bu@@er with the elbows out?
Paddy wasn’t the only Class upgrade on show today as the Over 60s were also joined by the ever youthful but sadly ever-aging Wednesfield man Phil Hemming. The quiet and purposeful Phil just missed the “A” Final cut by losing to Dave in the heats but was easily top Grand Vet on show, holding up much better than nearest rival Terry Kirkup when they clashed in a hard heat 11 where Phil managed to get between winner Paddy Wenn and the impressive Glyn leaving the Northumbrian trailing after a hotly contested first few laps.
Northumbria’s Shane Gray, Norman Carson, Paul Thompson, Richie Smith, Ashie Patterson and JeanPaul Colback provided very welcome additions to the programme when otherwise we’d have been well short of decent numbers and I really appreciate the effort they all made to get here and compete to make sure the event was a success. I don’t know if 9 out of 25 is a single club record in the Euro-Vets but I’m extremely proud of my Clubmates for turning out in such numbers to support a very worthy cause and enjoy a good day’s racing.
I always like to thank anyone I think deserves it, and today that covers an awful lot of people. While it’s not fair to be too picky, I live in awe of Martyn and Eddie who travel ridiculous miles to participate, and up here where the sun doesn’t shine we really appreciate the effort they put in to get here. Ditto Paddy and Jim Collier, and today Paddy’s travelling companion Glyn from Hethersett. I think Glyn enjoyed his first foray into our clique, or maybe it was just winning the twenty quid that swung him! He seemed to like our track too and looked very racy all day winning three races and easing into the “A” Final. Keeping the Scottish flag flying, wor Wee Man Chic continues to fly the “age is just a number” flag and looked quite spritely in a few of his rides. And his fellow Glaswegian, our good friend Colin Gray made a solo trip down to Crammy when he could have spent the day taking it easy back home. It’s always good to see Colin down here and he puts his heart and soul into his racing.
I must also say thanks to our Northumbria Chairman Keith Dyer who stepped in to referee today saving us some messy swapping around. Keith had to make a tough decision after Jason and Craig had tangled in the “A” Final which didn’t quite meet with the World Champ’s approval so we were treated to a demonstration of helmet football when the disgruntled Monarch got back to the pits. However, in the after-meeting munchies at the Sporting Club Craig was man enough to apologise to our Old Boy so credit to him for that. JeanPaul’s revealing video footage may have helped smooth the way!
Onward to Stoke then!