A lovely day, albeit a bit draughty, awaited us at Southampton for Round Four on Saturday 2nd July 2022. Always good to see a few new faces joining the E-V Fraternity and just a shame we don't get many coming northwards. The wind played its part in slugging the proceedings somewhat with a record number of re-runs due to helmets catching the wafting tapes at the start. For the second meeting in a row Fred Rothwell introduced a "Non-Categorised" category to give a couple of Southampton's young riders some extra laps as they took the empty slots in the Over 50/60 programme. Somewhat controversially young Leon Penketh's win in heat 8 caused Northumbria's Jason Keith, returning after a shoulder operation, to miss out on the Over 50s "A" Final after he'd tied with Paddy Wenn and Steve Paver on 16 points, the trio more-or-less beating each other in the heats. Even though he also took a point off Paddy and Steve, his inclusion in those races could well have influenced the outcome. Surely a very unsatisfactory outcome and one I personally think shouldn't be happening. We are Veteran racers, the clue is in the name :(
Maybe the excruciating 700 mile round trip from Newcastle got to me!
Just a word about poor Geoff Gamage, our trusty paddock prowler and Pits Marshal who was pretty ill today but still made his way down the road to join us. He looked like death warmed up but still got trackside to witness the action. I didn't get the name of the gentleman who took over PM duties but he did a great job, so Thank You, Sir.
On a fairly tricky surface where as is always the case, the sun (and aforementioned stiff breeze) quickly negated the work of the hosepipe, there were plenty slips and slides, but also some very hard challenges resulting in falls and pain distribution. This was my first visit and I found the track w-a-y too fast for a 72 year old, perhaps the extra age category should be our next consideration as the ability gaps definitely grow wider with age!
Anyway, without further ado - although we only had a paltry 9 riders on the Over 35/40 programme, each and every one of them had their moment(s) of glory today, and the race speeds in the less tactical heats were incredible, especially given the nature of the surface. But ultimately, my conclusion simply has to be - Lukasz Nowacki - wow! Our superstar Polish import just continues his relentless charge towards the dual 2022 titles with yet another fabulous display, interrupted only by Craig Marchant's clever win in the opening heat. Craig's Leicester teammate Kev Burns and home star Gavin Wheeler also pushed him hard but to no avail.
Meanwhile, in the Over 50s, Norman Venson got back to what he does best, taking another top step, with Lee Galley and the aforementioned Steve, Paddy and Jason never far away.
Glyn Morgan continued his terrific run to stay at the top of the Over 60s rankings with Ray Pyke sure to be snapping at his heels come the final round. Great to see Ray getting to so many rounds, the only rider from his corner of the country to venture outwards with any regularity, and he's definitely in with a shout now.
Hosting videos on this site has become somewhat awkward so when I finally get them sorted they'll be coming from my own YouTube slot for simplicity, storage considerations and cost (I pay for the Euro-Vets domain name and site hosting), so please bear with me (probably not worth holding your breath for!)