With only two more races before the Club Crit Championship, Col decided to challenge the 20 racers with a 45 minutes plus three graded handicap.
“A+ scratchies” comprised Houlty, Pat, Shaun and Brent. They had to make up ½ lap on the rest of “A” grade (John Scott-Hamilton, Kirky, Phil, Holly and Clint.) A round of applause greeted Kirky’s well-deserved elevation!
A combined “B” bunch (Gareth, Dene, Tinny, Carl, Richard Wilko and newcomer Richard Baxter) had 2 ½ laps on the scratchies and 2 laps on “A”. A further lap to the good were the trio of Christian, Pete Wilko and Pete Creagen.
Starting with the scratchies and having an advantage of 4 laps were Jacqui King and junior racer Bernie May.
Everyone took off from both sides of the track and the first 15 minutes were pretty chaotic and even Col had a few problems keeping track of the different handicaps. Eventually, this settled down as riders started to be spilled from their respective groups and lapped by the various bunches and it became a race of attrition.
With 10 minutes to go, the three scratchies (Pat having lost the wheels, although rejoining towards the end to help out with the chase) had to drop a desperate mixed group of B and A riders who were trying to hang on. Richard, Gareth and Dene still had a one lap advantage and were being shepherded along by Holly, Johnny and Kirky.
Scratchies realised the efforts they needed to make and made huge attacks up the hill in their attempt to distance the rest. With three to go, it looked very close and Brent made a final effort on the last time up the hill, but fell short by about 20 seconds.
Gareth continued his progression towards A Grade with a comfortable win over Richard and Dene, with the next riders over the line being Brent, Houlty and Shaun. The average speed was high for all groups (35.5 kph for the winners and 44.5 kph for scratchies) as all groups had to really push hard to either stay ahead or make up the laps . Great handicapping by Col!
Next week is final chance to fine-tune legs and tactics for the championship.