The World Veterans Final 2015 - #1. Gavin's Tale
A Day to Remember (pictures by kind permission of Linda Kirkland)
Well now I can take a breath and look back at what has been an amazing period in my comeback to the Cycle Speedway scene.
On Friday August 17th I travelled down to Leicester to compete in my first ever World Finals competition. This was the over 40s so amongst people of my own age group. Myself and Caroline left home at 7.30am to make the journey down, deciding against travelling the night before so I could have a good sleep in my own bed. On arrival at the superb Leicester track we were met by Jason and Terry who had travelled down together as we had a wedding to attend the day after.
Pre qualifying was cancelled due to riders dropping out so this meant a wait around before the two semi finals could take place with the top eight riders qualifying from each to go into the World Final. Terry was drawn in the first semi final which he narrowly failed to qualify from while myself and Jason in the second one which we both qualified from with points to spare. So two Vikings had already made history by being the first from the club to make a World Final.
In the final itself I could not have been more happy for my performance after drawing out the dreaded number 9 race position. Number 9 gives you two gate 4s and also two rides very close together on two occasions. Sadly to compound the draw I also had the two favourites Craig Marchent and Steve Harris on my inside.
Race One ( Gate 3 ) 4 points
My first race saw me off gate three with Lawrence on one, Burns on two and Turner on four. I made a pretty good gate and rounding the first bend I was up on Burns and level with Lawrence. Going down the back straight I passed Lawrence on the outside with Burns coming underneath him at the same time. The result was a heavy tumble for the Edinburgh Falcon although no blame could be given to any rider so a re run with all four was declared. Lawrence was now carrying a shoulder injury so I was hoping to capitalise in the re run.
In the re run I got a great gate and lead going into turn one. This was to continue for the four laps so I had started with a nice four points from my gate three.
Race Two ( Gate 4 ) 3 points
This was not what I had wanted against Marchant who had comfortably won his semi final and looked like the man to beat with Steve Harris and Mark Winwood. With Hoppo on one, Marchant on two and Dyson on gate three this race was always going to prove to be a very tough one and so it proved. Off the gate it was Marchant who led with myself soon in second and pressing hard. I took a great line going into the first bend of the second lap and for a moment I thought I could make a inside pass. Unfortunately Marchant saw the danger and closed the gap, resulting in me losing a bit of speed. I caught up again but could not do anything to stop the defeat by the excellent Marchant.
Race Three ( Gate 1 ) 4 points
This looked like another tough one with Winwood on gate four and Venson on two, Hodgkinson completed the line up on gate three. The first running of it saw me miss the gate slightly and when Winwood clashed with Venson it was myself on the inside that came down in a heap, all four back being the correct verdict.
In the re run I made no mistake from the gate and cleared off from the battles behind. A pretty comfortable race win from my inside grid.
Race Four ( Gate 4 ) 4 points
Another tough looking one with Keith on gate one, White on two and Hollebon on three. My gating had been feeling brilliant in the final apart from the little slip up in the first running of my third race and it was another great start in this one. I managed to get from four over to gate two before exiting the second bend and powering around the outside of Keith. I lead into the third bend on lap one and had a pretty comfortable following three laps.
Both gate fours were now out of the way and I had 15 points to show from it. Marchant then went and got his fifth straight win of the final so the winners trophy and title had slipped from my grasp with one race still to come.
Race Five ( Gate 2 ) 4 points
This was to be a real tough one with multi british champion and reigning world vets champion Harris off gate one. I knew I was gating brilliant and with Andy Angell giving me all the help in the pits we decided I had to go for a big one and try and get over Harris if possible. Wenn was on gate three and my good friend Burke was on four. As the tapes rose I made a blinder of a gate and found myself half a bike up on Harris before the bend. Harris fell and the referee deemed it to be his own fault and the race continued. I just had to take four steady laps and second place in the world was mine.
I duly completed the race and the sense of a great achievement was tinged by how close I had come to reaching my ultimate goal of being crowned World Champion.
If someone had offered me second place after the draw was done I would have probably taken it but on the night I could not have rode any better and the best man won. So second place, a large trophy and a million happy memories were what I had to show for the last few months of solid training.
Thanks to all those who sponsored me and backed me. Special thanks to Caroline for putting up with me and helping me with everything, I could not have done it without her huge support. Also a big thanks to Andy for his help on the day and his help and friendship over the past couple of years and to Tony Bennett for all his input and help into my training. Without all of you it would not have been possible.
The World Veterans Final 2015 - #2. Terry's Tale
So the day finally arrived on Friday 7th August 2015 when for the first time in post-war history, and maybe all of it, three Northumbria (aka Newcastle) Vikings were set to appear in their first World Over 40s Final at the superb Frog Island, Leicester arena. The track looked great on Jason’s and Terry’s arrival around 10:20 with Gavin catching up a few minutes later.
There were two pre-qualifiers scheduled to whittle down the 38-man entry to 2 x 16-man Semi-Finals, but with a handful of last-minute withdrawals a redraw was done and only the Semis were then required, each now having 15 entrants.
I was first up for Semi No. 1 at 1:35 pm which was the easiest looking of the two. However, on a track as fast as this the last thing a 65 year old wants is two races on the trot, but being drawn at Lucky Thirteen gave me exactly that! I've raced against nine of the field before in various Euro-Vets rounds but the others were unknown quantities to me. However as my reason for entering was simply to say I’d been part of a fabulous, never to be repeated opportunity, as well as to keep Jason company, the outcome was unimportant and became even less so after we’d all been presented with super medals, pennants and tee-shirts on the parade lap – memory captured forever, job done!
Anyway, two on the trot means two grid ones but as usual I'm running the highest gearing of anyone which coupled with a pair of the oldest legs on show didn’t auger well. However, I did make the start in heat four and got ahead of Australian Brad Hoppo and my great friend from Birmingham, Steve Hodgkinson, with another Aussie Darren Matthews trailing. Unfortunately my lead was short lived but I managed to stay third after drifting off the line to let the other two through.
I had no illusions about Heat 5 with another good friend, Hellingly’s speedster Martyn Hollebon coming off grid four and only the incredible Scottish legend John Murphy between us in a 3-man race, and sure enough Marty had the edge into turn one although I tagged along with him all the way to the finish.
Five points after two rides felt like over-achieving but I managed to add a few more by finishing a good second to Champion Elect, Leicester star Craig Marchant and while he didn’t break sweat I stayed with him for most of heat 12. Eight points – but how?
Believe me, I will treasure these photos taken by Jason for the rest of my natch!
Sadly my easiest rides were gone and even with Gavin and Jason screaming at me from the sidelines I ran a last in heat 14 after following yet another pal, Euro-Vets Over 40s leader Mark Winwood for a couple of laps before two more good buddies, Norwich Star Paddy Wenn and Heckmondwike’s Mick Knowles took their turn at overtaking me.
That left me needing 3 points from my last ride to stand a chance of making the Final. I had already resigned myself to failure on glancing at the programme. Euro-Vet Over 60s pace setter and current British Champ Bob Prince was out with me, together with the third Australian Paul White and Edinburgh’s rapid-starting Lee Lawrence. Bob had collected an unfair riding exclusion and was a point behind me, while Lee was a cert for the Final sitting on 12 and Paul one better on 13.
It’s probably common knowledge now that I don’t bother too much when racing Bob as I usually end up scraping the fence or being pushed into the pits if I'm behind him, and he’d already been excluded in heat 11 for doing the same to Paddy Wenn so with a couple of decent starters also in the race I slotted sedately in behind all three and just stayed in touch on the wide line, letting them get on with it. Starting the third lap Bob must have seen a gap under Paul but turned in way too square and spread himself on the floor right in front of me at the pits gate. I had only few microseconds to react but they gave me just enough time to decide to hit him square on to try and save my old bones from any further damage. He’s a solid little bu@@er though and as soon as my front wheel hit him full-on in the chest with an almighty thud I was airborne and landed a few metres beyond him. I jumped to my feet and pulled Bob’s bike off him, then supported his head and left shoulder while he lay there looking and sounding pretty much hurt. Help arrived eventually and after a couple of tense minutes we got him on his feet and into the pits.
A second batch of two-on-the-trot races was more than I could cope with so I settled for a gift third place in the re-run after Bob was excluded for causing the stoppage. Back in the pits I finally had time to feel my own pain coming from both knees and yet another clattered wrist. A single extra point may have got me into the Final, 2 more would certainly have but hey, watching the Grand Finale from the spectator seating I'm sure glad I wasn't in it to embarrass myself, such was the speed some of the young boys (sic) upped their game to!
Well done to everyone who beat me today (not that difficult but a race is a race) without any barging or shoving, feet or elbows, shoulders or front wheels – proper racing. I doubt very much if I'll be saying that after next Saturday's (15th August) British Veteran's Club Championship at Hull!
My commiserations go to anyone who was caught out by those terrible starting gates, the GO switch makes the magnets buzz very loudly if it isn't pushed hard enough and it almost cost Martyn a Final place and Mark a certain four points after both were excluded unfairly following a series of let-offs by the Referee for others right from heat 4, which also almost caught me out. Another few mild criticisms I would make are that the Pits Marshall never once told me when I was due to race, and way before the start there should have been tannoy announcements to keep everyone informed of the situation with the rider withdrawals and a new draw being made. The rest of the show was awesome and the meeting sponsors fantastic!
keep watching for a few words from World Runner-Up Gavin and Jason who had the 6th highest score!