In a handicapped criterium race yesterday, Mick Hoult made up a one lap deficit to catch the leaders and then outsprint them on the line for an impressive victory. With rain threatening, temperatures barely reaching 8 degrees and a number of riders competing in the Coona-Gunnedah-Tamworth races, just 14 brave souls turned up and were despatched as a combined A/B bunch within which B-Grade had a one lap start.
Quite who was in A or B wasn’t really established but Ben Harris wasn’t hanging around and quickly took up the lead into the first corner. He was joined by Houlty and Rob Hale and by the bottom of the rise they had already established a gap. With no one keen to join them, Tinny launched a solo effort that saw him latch onto the back of the trio at the top of the hill and by the end of the first lap they had 8 seconds on the bunch. By the end of the third lap the gap was 18s at which point Tinny peeled off, deciding his chances would be better combining with the bigger bunch behind. Unfortunately the bunch was considerably smaller by this point but he joined up with the Bourkes and David Cook to form an effective group that worked well. Billy and Pete Harris were a few seconds down on them, followed by a chasing Hugh Munday with Wilf and Jo further back.
By the 9th lap the trio up front had stretched their advantage to 49s which essentially was a deficit of around 1 minute on the quartet of the Bourkes, Tinny and David Cook who were the leaders on the road. One circuit later Houlty’s power proved too much for Rob H who peeled off and rode the rest of the race solo. Ben Harris was coping fine with the pace however and the pair continued to chip away at the deficit by around 7-8s per lap although the Bourke quartet up ahead was looking productive and potentially able to stay away.
On lap 16 with just 4 minutes (plus 2 laps) left, Ben punctured and Houlty was left on his own to chase down 14s on the group ahead which had been joined by Billy and was now 5 in number. As Harrison called out 2 laps to go the gap was 9 seconds and Houlty put in a massive effort which saw him latching onto the back of the leaders as they started the final circuit. Not content with merely catching them, he went straight to the front, punched out his fastest lap of the day and sprinted clear by 3s on the line. Dene beat Clint for second place and David Cook topped off a terrific ride to claim 4th spot.
Thanks to Harrison for running the race and well done to Mick for a well deserved victory. Commiserations to Ben Harris for puncturing (again) after combining well with Houlty. Next week we’re back into Road Racer mode with Round 7 the 15 round series taking place on the Long Swamp course.