How did it turn so cold so quickly? At least we had a dry if somewhat breezy afternoon for this, the penultimate round of the 2018 series which was very kindly and generously sponsored by local mortage providers Yellow Brick Mortgages. This was my first visit to the Norfolk track and very pretty it is, situated in the farthest corner of the Memorial Playing Fields enclosed by housing.
First job for fellow traveller Fred Rothwell and the magician's apprentice GB Team Manager Geoff Gamage was to come up with a decent race formula for the Over 40s, suffering another disappointingly low turnout of just seven riders, including the very welcome Carl Winwood having his first outing with Old Folk. I'm not sure where the eventual format came from but it sure packed in plenty frantic action in the first seven of its standard heats before cranking up the excitement in the open draw 8th and 9th and ending with a right old Clash of the Titans in the "A" Final itself.
Defending Champ Craig Marchant and an impressive Jason Keith grabbed three wins apiece in the heats closely followed by Steve Harris, once again doubling-up in the 40s and 50s, pretty hard graft considering the compact nature of the Over 40s programme. Somehow Mark Winwood didn't pass the flag first until it really mattered! Lady Luck sprayed her favours fairly evenly and the most consistent riders emerged as today's "A" Finalists, with slightly less lucky Rob Geach just missing out after once again providing more than his fair share of the entertainment.
The "A" Final saw a couple of even splits into the first bend being called back Craig hitting the floor twice, following the domino effect of a very determined Steve's shoulder charges into the pits bend. Third time unlucky for Craig as the ensuing tangle left him unable to re-mount with enough time to make a challenge and Mark took full advantage around the outside, going on to win the race and the event, with Jason getting the better of Steve.
Rob showed more great form in the "B" Final to stave off the challenge of Carl who seemed to enjoy his first dip into E-V action and a quick-looking Jim Collier.
Home crowd favourite Paddy Wenn from just up the road at Norwich Stars didn't disappoint the decent-sized and vociferous gathering of onlookers, playing their part with enthusiastic support for some very close racing, and even louder when Paddy and home star Glyn Morgan were on track. Paddy just edged out Dave Frith, Norman Venson, Steve Harris and a quick-starting Colin Simmons in the heats to claim the inside grid for the Over 50s "A" Final, the latter surviving a huge dive bomb attack from Norman in heat 8 with the World Champion surprisingly hitting the dirt on the pits bend. Pensioner Paul Timms also showed he's no slouch amongst the lower age group with another fine display. I must extend a warm Euro-Vets welcome to Southampton's Clive Alford who turned out for his Euro-Vets initiation today while he could have just comfortably remained on holiday.
In the 50s "A" Final Paddy made perfect use of his inside gate position to snap into the lead leaving the pits turn while Colin also made another great start but was overtaken by Norman and Dave, finishing in that order to joyous raptures from the crowd. Steve was a comfy winner of the "B" Final, rerun after a hard tumble by Terry attempting an outside blast to compensate for another dismal Over 60s Final display. Paul kept a hard-charging Glyn at bay to finish second.
The Over 60s "A" Final went to Colin with Les Stevens keeping Paul and Terry in the minor placings. Fred Rothwell continued his improved form winning the "B" Final from Chris Ward, the latter getting faster every outing after his own very late return to the Sport, while a game Chic Mackie cruised home in third after another incredible appearance for our wee octagenarian speedster riding his new Mielec and looking better on it than on his age-old mounts.
Thanks to Yellow Brick Mortgages for their superb support of the event and their upcoming sponsorship of the Hethersett club.