Wilf kept everyone guessing on Saturday afternoon at the crit track with some destructive race tactics that even Tony Abbott would have struggled to emulate. It made for some entertaining racing in B Grade however and kept the punters on their toes during an extended pre-Autumn festival warm-up which saw 40 mins plus 3 laps for A-Grade and 35 plus 3 for B.
A Grade went off first with a field that was well matched and large enough to promise a few fireworks but the 9 riders had Cols’s words about the forty minute race, plus the regulation three laps ringing in their ears, and consequently the first few laps were a bit of a procession. Meanwhile B Grade with 7 riders was expected to be the more sedate race but it was here that the rockets were launched, and on the first lap at that.
Wilf shot off from the gun with a solo effort that saw him break free from the pack and establish a gap of several seconds at the end of lap 1. Unfortunately the elastic behind him had snapped and Jo was by now off the back by a similar margin. When the race next passed, it was PC on the front and and Wilf who was off the back with Jo still chasing. Maybe it was chivalry rather than self-destruction but Wilf seemed to now be waiting for Jo who sensibly latched onto the loose cannon and hung on for the ride as they set off in pursuit of the 5 riders ahead.
Back in A Grade it was Sam Munday that cracked first as he decided the steady pace was too boring to be allowed to continue and he pulled ahead for a solo lap while the pack monitored from close distance. In fact this set the pattern for the race with several solo attempts off the front which never amounted to more than a handful of seconds and which rarely looked to trouble the chasers. There was an interesting moment through the bottom corner where the RFS started driving across the course in convoy just as A Grade were hammering through the bend chasing down another break, and later on mother duck decided to bring her ducklings across the road coming into the same bend but both events passed without incident and there was no shredded duck on the menu at The Mandarin that night.
Meanwhile Sam’s brother Hugh was having to contend with 4 veterans in the Bourke Sisters, Captain Creagan and Wilko in B Grade. He was hanging on gamely as they drove the pace along, ensuring that Wilf The Rocket and Jo weren’t going to be allowed to make contact again, by now 25s in arrears but rolling well.
By the time the 10th lap was underway, the front of B-Grade was down to 4 riders and A Grade were now just 34s behind on the track with further attacks going off during the brief confusion as they caught and lapped The Rocket and Jo, who had settled into a good rhythm in their own private race. On lap 14 the two grades came together through the esses but everyone behaved as they should and there were no cheeky attempts to use it as an opportunity get away.
As B Grade came towards the end of their race Jo put in a late charge and seemed to drop The Rocket, perhaps getting her own back for earlier events, but he retired to the grandstand to watch the final chapter unfold. And it was Clint Bourke who won in the strung-out sprint by a few bike lengths from Captain Creagan who in turn had a similar margin over Dene in 3rd.
Col’s clear signalling meant A Grade were in no doubt that three, then two, then just one lap remained and perhaps unexpectedly everyone stayed together until the top of the hill on the final lap. Dave Munday outfoxed most people as Sam and Mick wound it up wide on the left hand side up the hill. The rest hugged the inside line – surely the quicker route to the finish – before realising that Dave wasn’t going to tow them home and in a split second the gap was established and the moment lost. Ben and Paul went haring off after the lead pair but Sam rode a tactically perfect finish sitting in on Mick’s wheel before sprinting down the outside to take the win. Paul did well to take second from Ben in third.
Thanks to Col for running the race and putting everyone through a slightly longer than normal event. Well done to Sam and Clint as our winners on the day and to everyone for some good competitive racing. Wilf will have the opportunity to unleash more rocket fuel on the extended 40K Boorolong course next week as Kirky, Tinny, Swanny and Lachie fly the Armidale flag over the Victorian Alps in the 3 Peaks Challenge once again – good luck boys!
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