MATCH REPORT: Norfolk Individual Championships

HETHERSETT HAWKS / YELLOW BRICK MORTGAGES staged the Norfolk Individual Championships with 32 riders from the Hethersett and Norwich Clubs contesting eight age categories over almost six hours of racing. There were competitive debuts for Henry Everson, Isaac Emms, Micael Whitfield and Nick Davies. One minute’s silence was observed before each set of competitions in a mark of respect for the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Events started with Under-8 and Under-16 categories and the competition in both was intense with neither winner remaining unbeaten. Nyla El-Labany was passed in heat one of the Under-8s by Alfie Gunn but went on to win her remaining three rides, including a win over Alfie who was then beaten by Remy Davies in heat 6. This meant Nyla became champion followed on the podium by Alfie and Remy. The focus in the Under-16s centred on the clashes between Shaun Kell and Mason Martin. They met three times and it was cut-and-thrust all the way, Mason winning twice to become champion, retaining his title with Will Blackmore joining Shaun on the podium.

Under-10s and Under-19s were on track next with Mason and Shaun again battling away with the added ingredient of Tom Blackmore in the mix. Mason won the first two encounters but the others fought back to win one each. In the end Mason did enough with a second place in the final heat to make it a double champion day for him. Shaun was again runner-up with Tom third. There was never any doubt that the new British Under-10 champion Luca El-Labany would smoothly add the Norfolk title to his set but competition for podium places between the other three members of the Hethersett winning team in the British Championships – Ronnie Harding, Austin Brailey and Oscar Copeland – plus Norwich’s Stan Budds was a joy to watch over six gruelling rides each, In the end a race-off was required for the podium places with Stan defeating Austin.

Racing got even livelier as the seniors took to the track – a mix of wily campaigners and young pretenders always causes fascination and a few raised eyebrows from watching parents of youngsters. Harly Hamill started well as did Mason Martin until Shaun Kell finally got revenge in heat 9. Meanwhile Paddy Wenn had notched three wins before he and Mason met in the penultimate heat. It looked like the two would need to meet in a race-off until Paddy’s pressure finally told on his much younger rival and he took his chance and completed a maximum. While Mason was assured runners-up spot a race-off was required for third place. Dave Martin and Shaun clashed on the first bend and a restart was called. This time it was again a physical first bend but Dave was allowed to pull away and make that step onto the podium. Ross Carman impressed in a rare competitive appearance.

The Under-13s were more gently going about their business in between and Will Blackmore saw off all his rivals to complete a maximum with Aiesha Musa a class above the rest. The main focus was on the third place spot and Luca El-Labany re-emphasised his promise to hold off all challengers. Will Clarke had one of his best matches in this event.

Smaller fields concluded the day but good racing continued, especially in the Veterans with Glyn Morgan and Dave Martin trying hard to wrestle the trophy from the long-standing champion Paddy Wenn. In the end some superb passes by the champion gave him four wins before Dave Martin held him off superbly in the penultimate heat. A win for Dave in the final heat would have given him a race-off for the title but the oldest rider in the filed – Glyn – still had the final say with a clear win, enough to step up to third on the podium. Aiesha Musa retained her Ladies title with a maximum with a close contest for the minor places. Lola Martin, who was in her fourth match of the day, narrowly defeated Amelia Dodson in all their four races.

Full results – (H – Hethersett; N – Norwich)

Under-8s (sponsored by Dave Blackmore)

Nyla El-Labany (H) 15, Alfie Gunn (H) 14, Remy Davies (H) 13, Miles Jessett (H), 9 Isaac Emms (H), 8 Henry Everson (H) 6, Dylan Jessett (H) 5

Under-10s (sponsored by Jenny Melvin)
Luca El-Labany (H) 24, Stanley Budds (N) 20, Austin Brailey (H) 20, Ronnie Harding (H) 19, Oscar Copeland (H) 17, Arlo Davies (H) 14, Alfie Gunn (H) 12, Henry Everson (H) 9, Isaac Emms (H) 9, Micael Whitfield (H) 6


Will Blackmore (N) 20, Aiesha Musa (H) 19, Luca El-Labany (H) 18, Will Clarke (H) 17, Zachay Eastwood (N) 16, Austin Brailey (H), 14 Amelia Dodson (H), 14 Lola Martin (H), 13 Ronnie Harding (H), 13 Oscar Copeland (H), 11 Yeva Makieieva (H), 10 Arlo Davies (H) 9


Mason Martin (H) 15, Shaun Kell (N) 14, Will Blackmore (N) 10, Will Clarke (H) 6, Lola Martin (H) 5


Mason Martin (H) 13, Shaun Kell (N) 12, Tom Blackmore (N) 11, Lola Martin (H) 4


Paddy Wenn (N) 16, Mason Martin (H) 14, Dave Martin (H) 13, Shaun Kell (N) 13, Harley Hamill (H) 11, Tom Blackmore (N) 11, Glyn Morgan (H) 11, Rory Freeman (N) 9, Ross Carman (H) 9


Paddy Wenn (N) 19, Dave Martin (H) 18, Glyn Morgan (H) 17, Rory Freeman (N) 14, Nick Davies (H) 11, Jo Silver (H) 11


Aiesha Musa (H) 16 Lola Martin (H) 12 Amelia Dodson (H) 8 Yeva Makieieva (H) 4

Referees – Katie Adams, Gary Colby, Dave Blackmore

Meanwhile several of the above were in action the previous Wednesday for the final round of the Norfolk Grand Prix Series for younger riders at Harford Park. On the evening Nyla El-Labany won the Under-8s from Alfie Gunn and Remy Davies with Dylan Jessett making his debut. Luca El-Labany opted to race in the Under-13s having already secured enough points in the Under-10s. This left the competition open for others and Stan Budds sped away in the A Final. Unluckiest rider was Ronnie Harding who rode well to be second until he fell on the final corner bringing another rider down. The second place was therefore awarded to Austin Brailey with Oscar Copeland third. Will Blackmore won the Under-13s from Aiesha Musa and Luca El-Labany.

Full results –
A – 1 Nyla El-Labany (H), 2 Alfie Gunn (H), 3 Remy Davies (H), 4 Miles Jessett (H)
B – 1 Dylan Jessett (H)
A – 1 Stanley Budds (N), 2 Austin Brailey (H), 3 Oscar Copeland (H), 4 Ronnie Harding (H)
B – 1 Arlo Davies (H)
A – 1 Will Blackmore (N), 2 Aiesha Musa (H), 3 Luca El-Labany (H), 4 Zachary Eastwood (N)
B – 1 Lola Martin (H), 2 Amelia Dodson (H), 3 Yeva Makieieva (H)

Referee – Jamie Medler

Final scores – (best five of the six roubnds to count)

Under-8s – Nyla El-Labany 97 Remy davies 92 Alfie Gunn 89
Under-10s – Luca El-Labany 100 Stanley Budds 88 Austin Brailey 87
Under-13s – Will Blackmore 100 Aiesha Musa 92 Zachary Eastwood 84

The fifth round for the older age groups is at Hethersett on Wednesday 21st 7 p.m.

Many of the riders will be back in action this Sunday when Norwich Stars visit the Memorial Playing Field for re-arranged League matches at 2 p.m. while on Saturday Luca El-Labany will be at Astley & Tyldesley for the final national round of the British Youth & Junior League where qualification for the Under-10 A Final will see him champion for the series.