MATCH REPORT: Souh & South Wales Riders Championships
Report by Graham Sutton
However success is measured, the SW&W Individual Finals day at Harbourside Park ticked all the boxes and more.
76 riders contested 8 racing categories over 91 races and all squeezed into a 6 hour programme before an appreciative crowd.
Ben Mould clinched the Open title with a faultless maximum display in the event finale following a similar convincing performance by fellow Poole rider Macie Schmidt in the preceding Women’s Final.
But the day started much earlier for the youngest competitors in the U8 event with a full 16 rider line-up which saw Newport’s Tyler Davies race through the card unbeaten including a grand final win from the back against Poole newcomer Sonny Dymond with Exeter rider Harley Tucker taking the third rostrum place.
While Jack Tidball was comfortably racing his way through to the U10 Final, a quartet of Poole riders – Jamie Randall, Sam Fones, Teddy Curtis and Reily Nation required an eliminator for the remaining 3 places after tying on 13 points with Teddy just missing out. Jack scorched away in the final with Jamie Randall runner up ahead of Sam Fones.
JJ Wildman was the pre-event favourite in the keenly contested U12 event and his strongest challenger Kenzie Bennett saw his chances disappear when the two clashed in heat 3, the Poole rider taking a heavy tumble. Exeter clubmate Mackenzie Laing outpaced JJ to join him in the final along with Ollie Saunders and Daisy Sherwood. In the decider, JJ was smartest away while Daisy notched a gutsy 2nd ahead of Ollie who cooly sat for 3rd.
Kenzie Bennett was determined to recover from his U12’s disappointment by entering the U14’s where he made a much better impression. He lowered the colours of Nathan Loveridge with a sweet pass in heat 7 to finish joint top scorer with the Horspath rider on 15 and these two were joined in the final by Josh Nottle and Mackenzie Briggs. It was no surprise to see Loveridge and Bennett battle it out for the lead once again with the Poole rider executing a similar pass on the last bend only this time Josh Nottle was handily placed to nip up the inside of both of them for a popular victory.
Eight of the Women & Girls riders were eligible for the separate U16 Grand final which saw Rosie Tidball, Mia Laing, Izzy Byrne and Jasmine Oddie line up to see who would inherit the title from Macie Schmidt. Rosie duly raced away from grid 1 ahead of Mia and Jasmine who took the other rostrum positions. The Open final saw Macie and Lauren Hookway joined by Rosie and Mia in what was to be an eventful encounter. Macie raced away from gate 3 with the Exeter girls battling for minor places until Lauren and Mia clashed at the end of lap 3 resulting in Lauren’s exclusion. With the leading positions unlikely to change at the time of stoppage, the race was awarded with Macie taking the major honours.
After his recent victory in the Ade Gale “Laurels” at Harbourside, Ben Mould started the senior final as favourite with the strongest challenge expected from Zac Payne and Lukas Nowacki but the Polish star saw his chances dented in his opening race with an uncharacteristic bike failure. Zac dropped a point to Matt Mildon in heat 5 while Ben knocked off 3 comfortable wins before the interval. His first big challenge came in heat 14 with Lukas and Matt either side of his gate 2. Lukas led for 3 laps but Ben pulled off the pass of the day to strengthen his intentions.
So it all came down to heat 20 with Ben on 16 points and a gate 2 lined up with Zac just a point behind on gate 3 and Aaron Smith outside these two also on 15 after quietly putting together 4 quality rides. Ben knew he had to keep his wits about him as Zac looked for any opportunity for one of his trademark passes but he kept his cool and sped away to take top sport on the rostrum with Zac and Aaron joining him to conclude a brilliant final. The top 3 Junior riders were Will Jeffrey, Nathan Goulden and Ben Stanbury.