MATCH REPORT: Angell and Herbert secure British National Cycle Speedway Championship titles

By Andy Whitehouse (via British Cycling)

Andy Angell secured his third British individual title at Bury in arguably one of the most exciting finals in recent memory. A mere six points separated the 16 strong field, the tightest margin in the championship’s history.

Although the weekend saw the lowest turnout for the Senior Open, it was the cream of the sport that proved the future is still an exciting prospect. Bury once again proved to be a great leveller for racing, the wide, grippy track not generally favouring any rider, threw a twist into the mix every few heats.

An explosive gate four from Lewis Roberts in the first heat set out the way the match was heading, full on, fast and no holds barred racing, the Ipswich rider holding off the challenge from Lee Aris and Paul Heard until the final lap when he tangled with Heard and lost pace.

Heard clipping through to open up his championship with the four points, Aris took second. Bury’s Chris Parish took a fine win in the second heat, much to the obvious approval of the home crowd, keeping Steve Harris at arm’s length from the tapes.

An exclusion in the third heat ended any realistic chance of the title for Ben Mould after a clash with Adam Stephenson, Mark Boaler had the stronger legs to see off Ben Scranage into second.

Angell took his first win in heat four in a close race with Terry Norman. An outstanding move riding from the back of the race to the front through a gap that to most didn’t exist ensured a heat winning four points for Aris in heat six.

The following heat saw Angell’s dreams of a third win evaporate with a last place, unable to make any impression on the heat that gave Adam Stephenson his first win of the match. Heat ten piled on more misery for Angell with a third place, Mould taking his first win and Aris taking another three points in the fastest heat of the day.

Aris went into the break one point to the good of his closest rival, Paul Heard. Another fast gate from Lewis Roberts in heat 12 saw the Ipswich rider set for his first win of the day but the nature of the track saw a gap open up on the last bend allowing Mark Boaler to snatch the full points.

Aris still retained his match lead after three rides, another win for Paul Heard in heat 13 saw the Wednesfield rider take the match lead on the score sheet by one point over Aris.

Heat 14 saw Aris take to gate four in a race that could have arguably sealed the Championship but, nerves looked to get the better of the seasoned rider and moving at the tapes saw the previous title holder despatched back to the pits, leaving the day wide open again.

Two back to back wins in heats 16 and 17 for Andy Angell saw the pre-race favourite hold his nerve and turn round a match losing score to take his third title in four years. Five riders finishing on 14 points each, Heard, Aris, Boaler, Stephenson and Chris Timms ensured more fireworks, two run offs to go into the runner up final saw Timms secure second and Aris the third step of the podium.

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Women’s and U16 Girls

Charlie-Jane Herbert secured her first British Individual title at a drying Bury track on Sunday. The Exeter girl was pushed to a run off with Vicky Brown after coming second to the Sheffield rider in the final heat.

Light work was made in the four opening heats with wins coming from four of the pre-race favourites – Herbert, Brown, Lauren Jacobs and Michelle Whitehead who arguably is having her best season ever and for many would walk away with the champion’s jersey.

Herbert continued to dominate riding from the back through the field, taking her second win in heat five after a re-start that saw an exclusion for Lucy Whitehead, Lauren Jacobs followed in the next heat with her second win of the match, second spot went to Macie Schmidt.

Heat eight saw Brown take her second win in an aggressive heat that could have gone to any one of three riders but Brown held her nerve to ride Lauren Hookway and Lily Gedge into second and third respectively. Going into the break it was Herbert who headed the leader board with a maximum 12 points.

Never one for fanfares it was Lauren Jacobs who took the win in heat twelve over Brown to keep her title hopes alive but all eyes were on Herbert and she took her fourth win and the maximum points in heat 15.

Pressure was now on Brown and she made no mistake in the following heat keeping Michelle Whitehead in check to take the win, with one ride left it was Herbert leading the match from Brown and Jacobs with Whitehead one point adrift in fourth.

Heat 17 saw Whitehead take the win in her final outing to finish on 18 and with Jacobs finishing second it would be down to a run off. Heat 20 and a win from Herbert would secure the title outright for the Exeter rider but Brown knew she had to beat her to force the run off and that she did.

In the run offs Whitehead won the toss and picked gate two, the Leicester girl not looking back from the tapes to secure third sport. Herbert proved too strong for Brown in the final run off to take the title.

In the under 16 competition it was Lily Gedge who secured the title. Elizabeth Rigley took second and Chloe Albin took third after a hard fought third place run off with Macie Schmidt.

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U16 Boys

East Park’s Brandon Whetton took the victory in the rain after a hard fought battle with Hull’s Sam Schofield and third place Adam Watson.

The under 16 boys had the worst of the Bank Holiday weather on a tricky Bury track but ran the match pretty much incident free.

Whetton took the opening heat with a straight forward win from Adam Bennett to open his account. Watson took the win in heat three while Schofield had to wait until the following round to get his day under way.

Going into the break it was Shofield who was sitting unbeaten with three race wins with Whetton dropping a point in the sixth heat and Watson making up the trio on ten.

Whetton made light work of the opposition but in the eighteenth heat saw the match decider between the East Park youngster and Schofield, the Hull rider taking time to walk from the pits. Whetton held his concentration to take the win and the under 16 title beating Schofield into the runner up spot by one point. Adam Watson took the following heat to take the last step on the podium.

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Senior Open

Andy Angell 15, Chris Timms 14, Lee Aris 14, Adam Stephenson 14, Paul Heard 14, Mark Boaler 14, Steve Harris 13, Ben Mould 13, Ben Scranage 12, Chris Parish 12, Ben Higham 11, Lewis Roberts 11, Terry Norman 11, Josh Brooke 10, Mark Carmichael 10, Myke Grimes 9.

Women and U16 Girls

Charlie-Jane Herbert 19, Vicky Brown 19, Michelle Whitehead 18, Lauren Jacobs 18, Lauren Hookway 15, Lily Gedge 13, Lucy Whitehead 12, Laura Watson 12, Lisa-Marie Brown 12, Elizabeth Rigley 11,Rebecca Davies 11, Macie Schmidy 10, Chloe Albin 10, Jenna Whitehead 8, Niamh Morton 6, Katie Greaves 5.

Under 16 Boy’s

Brandon Whetton 19, Sam Schofield 18, Adam Watson 17.