MATCH REPORT: Sheffield host successful Vets champs

Sheffield’s Cookson Park was honoured to be the venue for the first ever TLI British Individual Championships, an event that is now likely to remain on the Eurovets calendar.

Complementing the Grand Prix series and a talked about regional team event. Thirty-one riders had entered the competition for Over 40’s/50’s and 60’s. The riders split evenly into to two qualifying pools. Early morning rain cleared prior to the 1pm start time, leaving the track damp but grippy.

Pool A had Norman Venson as the clear winner with an unbeaten 20 point maximum, winning four races from the gate with a good pass on Paul Timms thrown in. Filling second place was World Vets Champ Craig Marchant, who won four races (but fell in the race when he met Venson, sliding off on turn one when attempting to switch back onto an inside line).

Paddy Wenn and Peter Chant completed the top four, Wenn using the wide open spaces of Cookson to make several outside passes. Timms was a model of consistency, with one win and four second places. Bob Prince scored three wins, but got an exclusion for bringing Mick Aris down in heat 7. Aris recovering well to qualify for the 50’s and 60’s semi-finals despite carrying a shoulder injury from that crash. Colin Gray, Joe Beuckmann and Dave Robinson all had their moments, as there was plenty of passing and re-passing on the wide open spaces of the Sheffield track.

Pool B also had a 20 point maximum taking the first place. However,  Steve Harris (former World Vets Champ) had to work a good deal harder to get his maximum score. Jason Burke almost passed on the last corner of heat 5, his inside dive just not carrying enough pace. Harris then executed a sublime inside pass on exiting turn 4 of the last lap in heat 17, to pip Jason Keith by a wheel.

Burke and Martin Hollebon tied for second place, the Sheffield man using all of his home track advantage as he regularly had to score points the hard way. Keith filled the final top four position, and was involved in most of the exiting races of this Pool. His heat 6 race with Ray Pyke was great for the spectators. After stalking Pyke for three laps he pulled a great pass entering turn 1, only for Pyke to regain the lead on the exit of turn 2. Pyke had put on a great show on his first visit to Cookson.

Steve Hodgkinson made the over 50’s semi-finals, and could have finished higher except for going from first to last on the first bend of lap 3 in heat 15. Wins in his final two races put Phil Hemming into the 50’s semi-finals, a fine comeback after a third race exclusion after crashing into Joe Mclaughlin. Mick Knowles and Eddie Ridley also had their moments, each winning a race, but fell just a few points short of the semi qualifying scores.

Five of the six semi finals went to the riders on grids one and two, as the riders were quite happy not to over commit. The one race to break the mould was semi-final two in the Over 50’s. Prince made the perfect start and was happy to go at his own pace, this bunching the riders behind him. Pyke, who held second then got caught with an inside pass by Mclaughlin. The Coventry rider using all his guile to pin Pyke on the inside.  As they entered the last corner the inside room was squeezed out and Pyke ended up crossing the centre green and gaining only the third exclusion of the day.

First final up was the Over 60’s. Prince winning from grid 1, with Aris second of grid 2. The action happened behind with Kirkup making a well timed pass on Mclaughlin on the final lap. The Over 50’s also went the way of the grid positions. Timms winning from one, with Prince second of 2 and Hemming third from 3. Mclaughlin for the second final having to settle with fourth place.

Track knowledge paid off for Burke in the over 40’s final, he passing both Venson and Marchant down the back straight on the first lap after coming from grid 4. Harris was away though and always maintained at least two bikes length gap as he went on to be crowned the inaugural champ. Burke was pleased with his second, particularly after his disappointment in the World and BC British Individuals.  Venson finished in third with Marchant in fourth place.

The biggest winner of the day though was the Muscular Dystrophy charity, with £315 raised through entry fees/raffle and the days takings on sale of teas, coffee and food.


POOL  A – Norman Venson (Leicester) 20, Craig Marchant (Leicester) 18, Peter Chant (Poole) 17, Paddy Wenn (Norwich) 17, Paul Timms (Birmingham) 16, Bob Prince (Birmingham) 15, Mick Aris (Wednesfield) 14, Terry Kirkup (Northumbria) 14, Joe Beuckmann (Glasgow) 11, Colin Gray (Glasgow) 11, Fred Rothwell (Pedalsport) 10, Rob Mawhood (Sheffield) 9, Dave Robinson (Sheffield) 8, Jim Alexander (Glasgow) 7, Neil Magee (Northumbria) 7.

POOL  B – Steve Harris (Poole) 20, Jason Burke (Sheffield) 18, Martin Hollebon (Hellingley) 18, Jason Keith (Northumbria) 16, Ray Pyke (Kesgrave) 15, Phil Hemming (Sandwell) 14, Steve Hodgkinson (Birmingham) 14, Joe Mclaughlin (Coventry) 14, Mick Knowles (Heckmondwike) 13, Eddie Ridley (Hellingley) 12, Keith Oldham (Northumbria) 10, Paul Fisher (Sheffield) 9, Norman Carson (Northumbria) 8, Jim Graham (Northumbria) 7, Chic Mackie (Glasgow) 7.

Over 40’s semi-finals

1/ 1st Steve Harris, 2nd Jason Burke, 3rd Peter Chant, 4th Paddy Wenn

2/ 1st Norman Venson, Craig Marchant, Jason Keith, Martin Hollebon.

Over 50’s semi-finals

1/ 1st Paul Timms, 2nd Phil Hemming, 3rd Mick Aris, 4th Terry Kirkup

2/ 1st Bob Prince, 2nd Joe Mclaughlin, 3rd Steve Hodgkinson, 4th Ray Pyke (Exc).

Over 60’s semi-finals

1/ 1st Mick Aris, 2nd Terry Kirkup, 3rd Jim Graham, 4th Norman Carson

2/ 1st Bob Prince, 2nd Joe Mclaughlin, 3rd Fred Rothwell, 4th Chic Mackie


Over 40 – 1st Steve Harris, 2nd Jason Burke, 3rd Norman Venson, 4th Craig Marchant

Over 50 – 1st Paul Timms, 2nd Bob Prince, 3rd Phil Hemming, 4th Joe McLaughlin

Over 60 – 1st Bob Prince, 2nd Mick Aris, 3rd Terry Kirkup, 4th Joe McLaughlin