Round 5 of the Club Championships held on 22 August saw new winners in each grade, with a great win to Pat Ainsworth to beat a strong A grade field, and Phil Thomas and Brent Weston powering away to win B and C grades respectively.
The race was held on Long Swamp Road, and featured two full laps of the challenging course. Conditions were very windy making it tough for riders particularly on the long flat before the hill finish.
The A grade race got off to a fast start, with a couple of kamikaze attackers going from the gun causing a few grumbles from some riders.
The field quickly split up, with a small group including John Scott-Hamilton, Mick Hoult, Pat Ainsworth, and Andrew Kirk distancing the other riders. Although John and Mick tried hard to drop Pat, they couldn’t shake him, and he was much too strong on the hill to the finish, winning in the end by a healthy margin. John was second, Mick third, and Kirky (so much for his dodgy hamstring) fourth. Pat McMillan filled the final point scoring place after a strong solo effort.
In B grade, Phil Thomas quickly dropped the rest of the field and rode away to win by several minutes, showing the benefits of his Grafton to Inverell preparation. Cody Burton rose from his sick bed to battle home in second place with Wilfried Keller third and Tom Cooper fourth.
Brent Weston put in an eye catching performance to win C grade by a healthy margin. Starting three minutes behind B grade, Brent quickly distanced the rest of his competitors and very nearly caught the main B grade bunch. With form like this it shouldn’t be too long before he moves up to the higher grades.
On the comeback trail after her recent broken wrist, Jo Benham rode well to finish second, with competition leader Dave Rubie finishing third.
Geoff Allen tried to sneak past Karlee McMillan to nab fourth, but Karlee wasn’t having any of that, managing to hold him out with a speedy sprint at the finish.
Going into the final round of the series, the points in both A and B grades are very close, with several potential winners.
In A grade Mitch Bullen and John Scott-Hamilton share the lead on 24 points with Mick Hoult on 20 points. All three have a chance of taking out the title, although John and Mick will have to do something special to beat Mitch in a Criterium. The big improver after this weekend was Pat Ainsworth who moved into fourth place on 18 points.
Cody Burton leads B grade on 21 points after performing with his usual consistency throughout, but could be challenged in the last round by Phil Thomas and Bill Mara, both on 19 points.
Dave Rubie has C grade sewn up with 26 points, with Jo Benham in second place on 16, and Mark Haydon and Brent Weston tied for third on 13 points. Karlee McMillan is also doing well in fourth place on 11 points.
So the scene is set for an exciting conclusion to the series on 19 September. Let’s hope we get some racing to match the final round of B grade in the 2008 series.