MATCH REPORT: British Club Open/Women’s Championship

Thanks to Josh Brooke for writing up this match report on last weekend’s British Club/Open Women’s Championship that took place at Ipswich. So, here’s a belated look at how the action unfolded.

Semi Final 1 – Wednesfield v Kesgrave v Exeter

On a sunny Saturday the first mens semi final got underway with just 3 team vying for those 2 spots in the final. With Wednesfield boasting a fearsome looking Quintet they breezed through, with 4 riders going through the card unbeaten, leaving Exeter and Kesgrave to have their own personal battle for the last spot. Being leg by British Vets champion and runner up in Danni Zagni and Peter Ingram it was the Suffolk outfit who eventually came out on top, edging out the team from the south coast by 5 points.

Semi Final 2 – Birmingham v Ipswich v Hethersett v Sheffield

The second semi final was dominated by the home side Ipswich and Birmingham, both teams showing some strong gating and picking passes where necessary to cement their place in the final.

Hethersett were always in the thick of the action with young Olly Riley showing gritty determination which deserved more than his 9 point total. For Sheffield they were just lacking that rider that could give them that spark and drive them up the leader board.

Minor Final – Hethersett v Sheffield v Exeter

In the minor final the 3 teams who did not make the Grand Final slogged it out to see who would finish 5th, 6th and 7th and take home the points that are so valuable in the Club Championships. The teams matched up a lot more evenly in this action packed final and they all went at it hammer and thongs to keep the crowd entertained.

In the end it came down to a last heat decider between Hethersett and Exeter to see who took home the spoils, Dan Chambers holding his nerve in the last heat to seal victory for the Norfolk outfit and give them a slim 1 point victory. Olly Riley led the way with an unblemished 16 point max to show why he is one of the rising stars of East Anglia and was ably backed up by the rest of the team.

Women’s Final – Leicester v Ipswich v Sheffield v Exeter v Hethersett

The countries best woman riders lined up for a final which is getting more and more competitive each year, with woman’s racing really starting to see riders training hard and putting woman’s racing on the map in its own right. So far dominated by the Leicester ladies team this proved to be one of the closest fought finals in a few years with 4 points separating the eventual top 3.

Having so much strength in depth Leicester were always the team to beat but with stars such as Lauren Jacobs, Lauren Hookway and new Womans Champion Charlie-Jane Herbert on show they had to push right to the end to take home the trophy.

With Ipswich, Leicester and Exeter proving to be the big hitters the lead was backwards and forwards right up until the final heats.

In the closing stages with the result hanging in the balance Charlie-Jane Herbert took a nasty tumble and although she was able to compete in the re-run she was not able to get the result Exeter needed to stay in the title running and was later taken to hospital with neck injuries although she was released that day.

Leicester in the end had too much, and despite Ipswich leading by a point with 2 races to go the Leicester Ladies held their nerve to win by 3 with Michelle Whitehead wrapping the title up in the last race with a coolly taken second ahead of Ipswich’s Chloe Pearce.

So in the end it was title number 9 for the Leicester outfit and congratulations must go to them for being so consistent over the last 9 years. They will be more driven than ever to go out and complete ‘La Decima’ next year but with Charlie-Jane Herbert moving to Ipswich from next year it could prove to be the toughest final yet.

Open Grand Final – Wednesfield v Ipswich v Birmingham v Kesgrave

The Men’s Grand Final finished a bumper day of racing and what a final it proved to be with some of the biggest talent in the country on show.

Most people’s favourites were the Midland giants, Wednesfield, and being able to field a strong attacking 3 of the ever dependable Lee Aris, fast starting Paul Heard and Welsh Wizard Ben Mould, it was easy to see why. The ‘home team’ Ipswich fancied their chances on their own track and with Elite Captain Adam Peck unavailable it was left to Josh Brooke, Leon Mower, Jamie Chittock, Lewis Roberts and Charlie Rumbold to try and bring home the Gold.

Kesgrave and Birmingham both had stars in their teams and would be looking to knock points off where ever possible.

With Ipswich starting off the favoured grid 1’s they made a perfect start winning all 4 races with relative ease, the only scare coming when Lee Aris chased down and dived up the inside of Charlie Rumbold, only to see the Ipswich rider execute a brilliant pass back on the same corner. Wednesfield dropped points with an uncharacteristic fall from Ben Mould in the first heat leaving Ipswich 5 points ahead after the first set of races.

The 2nd set of races and Birmingham lined up off 1’s with Wednesfield 2’s, Kesgrave 3’s and Ipswich off 4’s. Paul Heard easily won heat 5 with Ipswich’s Lewis Roberts taking 2nd after a tangle between the B’ham and Kesgrave Rider on the last Bend. Lee Aris followed Marcus Wadhams home in the 6th before Lewis Roberts slotted in for a tactical second place behind Ben Mould after his 2nd grid 4 of the match. Heat 8 and with the Kesgrave rider slipping through into 2nd on the first bend, Wednesfield Reserve Ricki Johnson left the referee no choice but to exclude him when defending his line against the Ipswich Rider, he rode up the curb on the inside line giving Brooke nowhere to go. In the re run Chris Timms duly won from grid 1 with Josh Brooke tucking in for a 2nd place.

At half time Ipswich led by 7 from Birmingham with Wednesfield sitting 1 point further back.

The 2nd half started with Wednesfield taking their turns off the inside grid and they matched Ipswich’s feat in the first half taking 4 wins from 4 with Aris, Heard, Jewkes and Mould all leading home Timms, Brooke, Wadhams and Roberts respectively.

Going into the last set of races and Ipswich off 2’s on the inside of Wednesfield, with a 2 point cushion meant that they had to simply beat the midland team in the last set of rounds and the title was theirs.

Jamie Chittock set them on their way in heat 13, streaking away from reserve Ricki Johnson to extend the lead to 3 points. Heat 14 and Lewis Roberts in for Ipswich leads on the second time of asking after the Kesgrave rider is excluded for movement, only for the explosive Chris Timms to pass him on the inside causing the Ipswich rider to slide off and Ben Mould to come through into first place for an all-important 4 points.

Heat 15 and with Brooke holding his gate Lee Aris found himself stuck in last place after a good pass by the evergreen Gary Brown but was able to breathe a sigh of relief as a tangle of wheels brought himself and Groves down and the referee called all 4 back. In the re run with Brooke out in front Aris was this time able to get himself into 2nd place and set up a tense final heat with the gap sitting at 2 points.

Heat 16 and Leon Mower has the daunting task of trying to hold Paul Heard. After 1 failed start, the 2nd gets going with Heard making his customary fast start and with the Ipswich rider looking to tuck in for that all important 2nd place just clips the Wednesfield riders wheel, allowing Marcus Wadhams though to even the scores up and force a tie break for the title.

After prolonged discussion Wednesfield opted for Ben Mould, while Ipswich chose Josh Brooke, both riders having experience in run offs at this level. The Wednesfield rider won the toss and selected gate 2 leaving Brooke on 4. Try as he might the Ipswich rider could not find a way past the Welsh Flyer, despite a last ditch last bend and couldn’t prevent Wednesfield retaining the title they won 12 months ago.

Birmingham eventually finished 9 points off the pace and Kesgrave brought up the rear although the score doesn’t truly reflect the close nature of the racing through out.

With the Club Championships now reaching its conclusion, all eyes will be on the under 19’s in a few weeks to see who takes home the title as a whole, while Wednesfield will also be turning their eyes to the BTC in Exeter to try and make it 2 retentions of titles in as many weeks.

Huge congratulations must go to the Ipswich club for putting on a fantastic show and the track held up well for all 5 matches resulting in some close and action packed racing.