MATCH REPORT: Lions secure runners-up spot
It was a very warm welcome to the Lower Dicker Circuit for the Hawks from Hethersett with clear blue skies and blazing sunshine for this the final league encounter for both teams in South-East Division 2. For Hethersett, it was just the completion of their league fixtures, whereas for the Lions it was a must-win encounter to secure the runner up spot which would bring the most successful season of racing for some considerable time. The team strength of the Hawks was very much on the mixed side with the experienced Glyn Morgan and the ever-improving Paul Delachie looking to be the mainstays of the side with their latest asset in Charlie Lyth making his first visit to Lion’s den. For Hellingly it was a return to the side for Steven Archer with Martyn Hollebon named at reserve in an attempt to produce closer racing. Harry Sexton is now on board his brand new Polish bike, albeit with a couple of slight differences to what he has been riding.
The Lions won the coin toss and it was no surprises when they chose gates 1&3 in heat 1. First up was Steven Archer and Barry Geer for Hellingly with Paul Delachie and Katie Adams out for the Hawks. Tapes up and with all four charging into the notorious 1st bend things got a little untidy resulting in both the Hawks coming to grief and falling. The race was stopped and re-run with all four riders to which this time Steven Archer took the win quite comfortably with Barry Geer content to sit in third spot for an opening 6-4 to the Lions.
Heat 2 had Glyn Morgan easily fending off both the Hellingly pair from gate 1 and looked well in control for two laps. Unfortunately, on the exit of the pit bend lap 2, Glyn slipped off with the pursuing Hellingly pair of Jim Cox and George Morley quick to take advantage and go on to record a maximum heat win. It was to become apparent the reason for Glyn’s fall was that his chain came off and consequently failed to finish the race gifting the home side with a 7-2 score.
Heat 3 had debutante Charlie Lyth looking very quick for Hethersett as he easily gated across Harry Sexton and going on to win at a canter with the home pairing having no answer and content to share the race to bring the scorecard to 18 -11 to Hellingly. After just three races it has to be said the track surface was far from its usual condition with the first bend resembling a ploughed field and cutting up badly with the shale deep and loose requiring some attention.
Heats 4 & 5 were both won by the rider coming off gate 1 with track conditions not conducive to close racing and Hellingly stretching out a 9 point lead.
All was to change in heat 6 with Delachie leading from the start off gate 1 with Ed Ridley pushing hard on Paul’s back wheel for 2 laps with Harry Sexton tucked into third spot, but not looking completely at ease on his new bike. At the first bend lap 3, Ed performed a truly masterful manoeuvre to pass Paul cleaner than the ref’s whistle on the inside and raced away to the flag sending ripples through the crowd saying how did he manage that? Great stuff!
Heat 7 produced a massive 7-3 advantage to Hethersett with Lyth taking his second win with the shrewd use of their reserve Dave Adams following him home.
Heat 8 was won by Glyn Morgan, again off gate 1 with Lyth winning heat 9 after getting the better of George Morley and Jim Cox to bring the scores at the interval to Hellingly 48 Hethersett 41.
After some extensive track-work and watering racing resumed at heat 10 with Barry Geer and Ed Ridley coming to the tapes for the Lions, Glyn Morgan and Paul Delachie for the Hawks. Glyn had the favoured gate 1 and promptly took the upper hand looking every inch the winner for 2 laps until Barry for the Lions really dug in and found some extra speed to ride a wide line at the pit bend going around the outside of Glyn to earn an unexpected 6-4 heat advantage.
The following race was an easy 7-3 maximum from the moment the tapes went up for Hellingly to take the score to a comfortable 13 point lead with 4 races remaining.
With the Hawks refusing to throw in the towel, heat 12 produced a somewhat surprising 7-3 maximum to them courtesy of the still unbeaten Lyth and once again shrewd use of their reserve Dave Adams. More drama was to follow in heat 13 with an untidy first bend resulting in three riders getting tangled together, the referee stopping the race and called for a re-run with all four riders. With the in-form George Morley on gate 1 and expected to take the win, there was no panic in the Lions camp, that is until the tapes went up. Disaster struck when George Morley’s handlebar grip came adrift leaving him stranded at the start allowing the Hethersett pair of Delachie and Morgan to race away for a gifted 7pt maximum to bring the Hawks to within 5pts of the Lions.
The following two heats were both 5-5 drawn heats both won by a Hethersett rider. Heat 14 was won by Dave Adams taking his third ride at reserve to remain unbeaten by an opponent and Heat 15 was won by Lyth to give him a five ride maximum score 20pts. This was a superb effort from someone in their first season of racing and to add insult to injury four of his five rides were from the outside starting grids. The scorecard now read Hellingly 77 Hethersett 72, which meant providing all riders completed the nominated heat 16, the Hawks could not win the match. Martyn Hollebon and Harry Ridley were the chosen pair for Hellingly, suggesting there was an element of safety in mind. Delachie on gate 1, Lewis Smith on gate 3 for Hethersett with Harry Ridley gate 2, Martyn gate 4. To be honest, no-one in the watching crowd expected Martyn to be beaten with his vast knowledge and experience of the circuit. Unfortunately, this was not the case as Paul out-gated Martyn and rode a clever 4 laps to keep him at bay and take the race win. The heat score was a drawn 5-5 bringing the match to a close with the final score of Hellingly 82 Hethersett 77.
Overall it was a close-fought contest with good and bad luck to both teams. Hellingly won on the day with a solid team performance, while no-one being outstanding, but all doing their bit when needed. On the other hand, Hethersett were by no means outclassed and can take pride in having two riders unbeaten by an opponent. Dave Adams with 3 rides at reserve, but easily the star was Charlie Lyth with a five ride maximum. This was the second time Charlie has gone unbeaten when racing against the Lions scoring 23 +1 (6 ride paid max) also in the league match at Hethersett. It was 2 league points to Hellingly cementing the runner-up spot, with Ipswich defeating Kesgrave 89 – 60 at Kesgrave the league campaign is now completed.
Steven Archer 14+1 (5r), George Morley 14+1 (5r), Eddie Ridley 13+2 (5r), Harry Sexton 13+1 (5r), Barry Geer 11(4r), Jim Cox 8+2 (4r), Harry Ridley 6+1 (3r), Martyn Hollebon 3 (1r)
Charlie Lyth 20 (5r max), Paul Delachie 19 (6r), Glyn Morgan 13+1 (5r), Dave Adams 10+2, (3r) Katie Adams 5 (4r), Nigel Longlands 5 (4r), Lewis Smith 5 (5r)