CLUB NEWS: Coventry’s Oliver lands British Title

There was glory, success, heartbreak and disappointment for Coventry riders in the 2016 British Cycle Speedway Finals held on the south coast last weekend.

Ray Oliver, in his comeback year, rode to glory to win the British Over 50s veterans final at Southampton last Saturday afternoon. The former world champion produced a stunning display after returning to the sport following a 12-year absence.

Oliver pipped his life-long friend and former Whitley teammate Dave Frith, who lives in Coventry but races for Leicester. Oliver is now to challenge for the rival TLI British veterans title at Hull next Saturday.

There was both success and heartbreak for Coventry ace Myke Grimes in the British open senior individual final at Exeter on Bank Holiday Monday. The 31-year-old IT worker at Caludon Castle school came to within five yards of the coveted British crown.

Grimes, with a win in his final ride, was the leader in the clubhouse on 16 points – waiting for the last two heats to finish to see if he had done enough to become British champion.

Drama unfolded in a crucial heat 20, the final heat of the day. In an incredible climax, Grimes’ nearest opponent, Ben Mould of Wednesfield Aces, was trailing in last place as the riders entered a thrilling last bend. At this stage, Grimes had the British title assured.

However, an astonishing sequence of events unfolded as the riders dashed to the finishing line. Both the two leading riders crashed to the ground, bringing down the third place rider in the process – leaving a gleeful Mould to avoid the carnage and race through for the title.

Grimes was absolutely distraught, his British title dreams shattered in a matter of seconds. However, he had done enough to capture the runners-up position, the highest placed Coventry finisher in nearly 50 years.

2016 British Final Podium. (L-R) Myke Grimes, Ben Mould, Lewis Osbourne.

2016 British Final Podium. (L-R) Myke Grimes, Ben Mould, Lewis Osbourne.

Speaking at Hearsall Common on Wednesday evening, as he coached a record attendance of juniors, Grimes said: “I am heartbroken. So near yet so far. Those 5 seconds at the end of the final will live with me forever. But I have a silver medal and I have to be happy with that and it will only make me work harder now”.

Three times British champion Andy Angell dominated early on, two heat wins marking him down as the early pacesetter. However, a fall when well placed ultimately cost him a podium finish. Jake Read also reached the final but two exclusions curtailed his scoring.

Coventry claimed a bronze medal in the British under 19s final, with Adam Watson continuing his fine run of form. Dan Drewett performed well but his relative lack of experience at the top level proved his undoing.

There was huge disappointment for teenage hotshot Ben Wells in the British under 13s final. He claimed three wins and a second but a last race fall meant he finished on 16 points – a point adrift of the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Sammi Marsh was also close to a podium in the U16 Girls category, finishing fourth, as well as competing in the Women’s final. Youngsters Jack Reynolds and James Morris equally gave a good account for themselves in the U13 and U10 boys finals.

The Coventry club stage a full programme of racing tomorrow (Sunday 4th September) afternoon at Hearsall Common, with junior, senior and individual racing all programmed.

Coventry juniors will take on the newly revived Brandon Bees juniors in the first action of the day at 12.30pm. Both teams have been named.

Coventry juniors: 1 Sam Slatter 2 James Morris, 3 Jack Reynolds 4 Harry Hibbert 5 Wyatt Jacobs 6 Jacob Slezak 7 James Bridge-Wilkinson 8 Ronnie Wassall 9 Lewis Fry 10 Heather Smith

Brandon Bees juniors: 1 Owen Gregory 2 Tom Savage 3 Cameron Gill 4 Jonny Middleton 5 Lee Gregory 6 Amy Baynes 7 Lewis Middleton 8 Lucais Eyles (To be confirmed)

Chasing their first home Midland League division one win of the season, Coventry host Wednesfield Dragons at 2pm. Team boss Lee Marsh has named the following side.

Coventry: 1 Dan Drewett 2 TBC 3 Myke Grimes 4 Ray Oliver 5 Dominik Rycharski 6 Matt Hambidge 7 Jake Slatter 8 Ollie Morris

The Earlsdon Riders Individual championship will conclude the programme at 3.45pm. The meeting will see the return of former Coventry top juniors Sam Hardie and Kyle Barlow, now both in their mid-20s.

Earlsdon Championship full line-up:

  • 1 Matthew Lawrence
  • 2 Sammi Marsh
  • 3 Joe McLaughlin
  • 4 Shaun Reynolds
  • 5 Joe Andrews
  • 6 To be announced
  • 7 Josh Marsh
  • 8 Steve Stewart
  • 9 Ben Wells
  • 10 Sam Hardie
  • 11 Jimmy Wassall
  • 12 Kyle Barlow

Brandon Bees will stage the 2016 Coventry junior finals day at Bretford Playing Fields next Sunday (11th September), starting at 2pm. Riders will race for the honour of being Coventry junior champion at under 8, under 11 and under 16 level.