BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS 2014: Preview
The weekend is finally here and it’s the biggest few days on the British Cycle Speedway calendar, as Under 10s (boys and girls), Under 16 boys, Women and Girls and Seniors all battle it out on the shale to claim a white jersey and be crowned British Champion for 2014.
With slight programme adjustments, meaning the women and girls competition moved from Sheffield on Saturday to Astley and Tyldesley on Sunday and the under 16 boys competition becoming a straight final due to withdrawals, we get straight into the senior action at Sheffield, starting at 2pm at the Graves.
32 riders will compete, with 4 riders going through from the two semi finals and everyone else going to the repechage the next day at Astley and Tyldesley. The first semi final has 11 regular Elite League riders out of the 16, plus Adam Stephenson, who hasn’t appeared so far for Sheffield this season and Ben Scranage, one of the best riders outside the Elite League. It goes to show that, although numbers are down, the quality is very much still there this year. The top four qualifiers will be anyone’s guess, current British number 3 Chris Timms, is probably the most expected to come through the draw on top, about half of the draw have appeared in a British Final at some point, so those riders know what it takes to get there.
Semi final two features some big hitters but less of the consistency of Elite League riders. Either way, you can expect one or two big names to be appearing at Astley and Tyldesley the next day. Four former British champions, Andy Angell, Lee Aris, Mark Boaler and veteran Terry Norman are all present, with strong competition from the best in the country, in the form of Paul Heard, Ben Mould and Mark Carmichael, something has got to give somewhere!
Favourites to land the title? Boaler is on great form, you can never count out Aris, Heard will still be on it, despite the injury layoff, Carmichael won the Laurels in Poole earlier in the year against a strong line up, Angell is hungry for success, Mould and Timms both have the ability to finish on the top spot. Plus there are many others who can spring a surprise. It’s going to be an intriguing weekend.
Moving on to the Under 10s, in the boys category look out for Oliver Wright of Kesgrave, current series leader of the British Youth and Junior League under 10s series. Team mate Oliver Reynolds is also going well, as is Hulls Charlie Wade and Poole’s Nathan Goulden. Nine riders will compete in the girls competition, Rosie Tidball has had a great campaign in the BYJL under 10s and could well be the one to beat.
In the under 16 boys competition, we now have a straight final at Bury on Bank Holiday Monday, with the draw taking place on Sunday evening. Currently, we’re unsure who has dropped out, but there is a plethora of young talent on show. Bury have their home hopes on two young riders, Daniel Taylor and James Elston. Sheffield’s Niall Morton and Adam Watson have both being going strong of late and Midlanders Brandon Whetton, Haydn Rowley, Kyle Roberts and Lee Kemp, will all be in contention. The whole line up is strong as Sam Schofield of Hull and Newport’s Adam Bennett will also be in the thick of the action, then there’s also Ben Harvey of Ipswich, Jack Herbert of Exeter and Callum Albin of Poole, who are all up the top of the table in the British Youth and Junior under 16 category and not forgetting Mark Boaler’s young protégé, George Horsley, who has been impressing in the Elite League combination. It’s going to be a hard fought final.
Final we have the women and under 16 girls competition. Former champion Lauren Jacobs is in the draw and her main source of attack will be coming from all directions. Lauren Hookway looks eager to stand on the top spot after winning countless competitions this year, including the dash trophies event at Wednesfield. Michelle Whitehead has had a strong season for Leicester in the Midland League as well as performing well in the Women’s League rounds, as is Charlie Jane Herbert, another fierce competitor looking to do well. Lily Gedge currently joint leads the Girls category of the British Youth and Junior League with Hookway, but if she has her eyes on the podium she has to contend with Rebecca Davies, Lucy and Jenna Whitehead, Vicky Brown and Laura Watson, who will no doubt have something to say about that!
In the under 16 category (which takes place within the Women’s meeting), Lily Gedge goes in as marginal favourite, judging on her BYJL form, but close behind will be Elizabeth Rigley, who is getting faster all the time. Under 13 champion Macie Schmidt also makes an appearance in the under 16 category.
It’s going to be a busy weekend with action packed racing, if you’re going along, we hope you enjoy it and well done in advance to the volunteers of Sheffield, A&T and Bury for all of your hard work and long hours.