MATCH REPORT: Lions top cats in Hellingly

The Lions circuit was saturated after heavy rain by the time officials arrived at 10:30am. Only after hours of raking, rolling, tyre packing and watering by Hellingly’s volunteers was the track raceable, and in the end turned out to be a first class raceway in time to welcome Kesgrave Panthers.

Dubbed “the battle of the wilcats”, it began with the Panthers opting to take inside grids after winning the toss.

Neil Hollebon and Jim Cox were somewhat fortunate to escape with 4-6 result against arguably Kesgrave’s strongest pairing of Jamie Chittock and Ben Harvey in heat one. The next 7 heats were very nip and tuck stuff, 5 drawn heats and two 6-4s in favour of Hellingly, strangely enough both were achieved from gates 2 and 4.

In heat 8, the Lions lined up with Martyn Hollebon from gate 1 and team mate Eddie Ridley on gate 3. Martyn raced away from the tapes and on the exit of bend 2, Ed found acres of space and flew into second spot behind Martyn. Sadly for the Lions, it lasted only 2 laps. Down to the super fast track and lack of fitness, Ed was passed by both Panthers.

A drawn heat was the result and the progressive score saw Hellingly leading by a narrow 2 point margin. In the final race before the interval, captain Jesse Moore trapped Brinkoff on one with Steven also making the gate around from 4 to head home a 7-3 to the home side and extend their lead to 6 points.

Neil Hollebon registered a race win and shared heat in the first race after the interval. Jesse Moore continued his impressive form in heat 12, shepherding home team mate Jim Cox for another 7-3 and sending the home fans into rapturous applause.

Throughout the race Jesse was “Mr. Cool”, had a grin on his face a mile wide and never looked like being passed.

Jesse Moore raced to a paid maximum. Photos by Michelle Rideout.

Hellingly were now 10 points in front by heat 13, but Kesgrave had not thrown the towel in yet. This was the only race so far that the referee had to make a decision.

Jamie Chittock earned himself the only exclusion of the match after bringing down Steven Archer while attempting to round the Hellingly rider after some smart riding by Martyn Hollebon. Gary Brown took the race win for Kesgrave but the resulting 5-4 meant Hellingly extended their lead by another point.

Another shared heat followed in heat 14. With the match almost won, it was decided to rest Ed from heat 15 and give young George Morley a ride. Not expecting too much from George from grid 4, he rose to the occasion with flying colours.

Morley rode a clever first bend to claim third spot, which he maintained to the flag. With Neil Hollebon winning the race, a 6-4 heat advantage gave Hellingly an unassailable lead.

The final race provided great entertainment for the spectators. The best riders from both teams lined up, Neil Hollebon and Jesse Moore for Hellingly and Jamie Chittock and Ben Harvey for Kesgrave.

Hellingly won the toss and elected to take grids 2 and 4. The first run saw three riders in a heap on the first bend and some bike maintenance needed for Neil Hollebon’s back wheel.

In the rerun, Hollebon raced away after a smart first bend with Jesse Moore emerging in third place. Moore made a dive pass under Chittock, which also let Harvey through.

Moore then clashed with Harvey on lap two, resulting in both riders falling. The referee deemed it a racing incident and continued the race. Moore reacted quickest and remounted to take second place, and a paid maximum, with Chittock too far back to take advantage.

Jesse Moore and Jamie Chittock clash. Photos by Michelle Rideout.

All the Lions rode with gusto to earn this victory and much credit must go to all the Kesgrave riders for being part of the show.

Hellingly 88
Jesse Moore 21+3, Neil Hollebon 21, Martyn Hollebon 19, Jim Cox 11, Steven Archer 9, Ed Ridley 5, George Morley 2

Kesgrave 71
Lewis Brinkhoff 14, Gary Brown 14+2, Ben Harvey 13+4, Jamie Chittock 13,
Charlie Long 9+1, Tyler Brinkhoff 6+1, James Porter 2

As the scoreline suggests, this was a lack lustre affair compared to the first team match. Hellingly were out classed somewhat by a powerful Kesgrave side, with the exception of Dan Welch and Steven Archer.

It was in this match than Dan had decided to make a return to the saddle, having not ridden for a few seasons. He managed to win his first three races, but tailed off a bit in the last two.

Steven faired a little better winning four of his five races. Both found the racing hard, but fair. Unfortunately for Hellingly, that was the sum total of success they could achieve. The rest of the team tried their best, but the superior starts from the tapes for Kesgrave gave the away side a huge advantage.

Unknown to all the riders, just for fun, all the races were timed over 4 laps. It was heat 3 when Steven Archer recorded a time of 45.4 secs, Dan matched this time in heat 7, but not to be outdone Steven did a 45.2 in heat 10.

Unfortunately for the Hellingly boys in the very next race, heat 11, Jake Vincent from Kesgrave raced to a time of 45.1 secs. This remained the fastest race time of the match.

Hellingly 64
Dan Welch 17, Isaac Westwood 5, George Morley 11, Jamie Morley 6, Steven Archer 18, Ethan Page 7

Kesgrave 96
Lewis Brinkhoff 17, Jake Vincent 19, Paul Brinkhoff 7, James Porter 16, Charlie Long 12, Tyler Brinkhoff 15, Luke Gifkins 10