MATCH REPORT: BYJL and Little League concludes in Sheffield

Sheffield’s Cookson Park circuit was the venue for the final round of the BYJL and Little League competitions. With 98 of the country’s best juniors converging, including seven of the 2017 British Individual Champions, the large crowd were treated to some excellent racing on the vast open spaces of the Cookson track (which provides some of the fastest racing in the country).

Overnight rain made for a damp and grippy surface, which aided the quick riders. Luca Woodhouse (Kesgrave) demonstrated his potential in the under 8s after going through the qualifiers unbeaten, though he was pushed all the way in wins over Jack Tidball (Exeter) and Liam Wells (Leicester). The Kesgrave speedster then won the A Final, and took the overall title, from Jack, Oscar Hammond (Kesgrave) and Frank White (A & T).

We then moved onto the under 10s, and by now the sun was shining as the largest field (26 riders) took to the track. Again it was the British number one that dominated, Ronnie Wassall (Coventry) scoring an unbeaten 16 point score. He was involved in a terrific race with Kenzie Bennett (Poole) in heat 8, the riders passed and re-passed each other.

The Poole racer looked to have the race won when he made a great inside pass on the last bend, unfortunately as the bikes clashed Kenzie’s shed its chain and he came home in third place. That proved costly for Kenzie as he went into the B Final. The A Final saw Rocket Ronnie have misfortune as he fell and finished in fourth place. Oliver Saunders (Poole) won from JJ Wildman (Exeter) and Charlie Parr (Kesgrave). The win for Oliver saw him jump from fourth overall to be crowned 2017 champion, Ronnie slipping down to second with JJ third.

The under 12s were next with another Kesgrave rider showing his potential. Noah Woodhouse being the only rider to finish with a 16 point unbeaten score. John White (A & T) and Joe Hurren, who started the day 1 & 2, finished with 15 points. The crowd lost count of the number of passes made in this meeting with Kyle Wells (Leicester), Rebekah Humphries (Birmingham), Miah Liang (Exeter), Logan Perkins (Sheffield) and Johnathon Middleton (Coventry) all making the most of the wide open spaces.

Kyle then won the A Final from Joe, John and Noah. The overall title going to John from Joe and Connor Steel (Birmingham), which is how the day started. The Girls and under 14s ran together, with a rather poor turnout of just eight riders for the under 14s. However, that did not detract from the racing.

Lewis Brinkoff (Kesgrave) started the day as the overall leader, having won all the previous rounds, and he would dominate the racing with a most assured performance. Twice he had to pass Ben Clarke (Ipswich), the second of which saw a sublime switch from outside to inside on the approach to turn one of the third lap.

Dan Wright (Newport) was showing some great speed, but almost ended over the fence after a tangle with the Coventry duo of Ben Wells and Tom Savage (who was having some tough battles with Sheffield’s Kielan Burton and Exeter’s Jack Horton). Lewis then won the A final from Ben Clarke, Dan and Ben Wells, the first three also filling the overall top three positions.

Macie Schmidt (Poole) continued her mastery in Girls racing, winning on the day (with an unbeaten score) and A Final victory to claim the overall title. She was made to work hard for wins over Niamh Morton (Sheffield) and Lizzie Rigley (Leicester), who both led the Poole flyer briefly.  Emily Burgess (A & T) showed what an emerging talent she his, winning three of her races on the way to making the A Final. Others to have their moment of glory with race wins were Chloe Whitehead (Leicester), Maddie Saunders (Poole), Bethany Briggs (Poole) and Anna Tuttle (Poole).

Sammi Marsh (Sheffield, but riding as an Independent) had the rather unfortunate statistic of being the only rider to have an exclusion, a tapes infringement in her first race. To compound her day she led both her third and fourth races before being passed on the last corner. Macie won the A Final, after a hard scrap with Lizzie, while Emily placed third and Bethany fourth. Macie also took the overall title, from Lizzie and Maddie.

The Under 18s were last to race, with some threatening black clouds overhead which would play their part in the day soon enough. Several of the riders were already celebrating, after receiving their confirmation of being selected for the GB squad for Australia. The standard of racing provided shows that GB will be going with a top bunch of racers.

Fraser Garnett (Poole) and Adam Watson (Sheffield) topped the scoring with 15 points, Fraser losing to Will Jeffrey (Horspath) while Adam was defeated by Brandon Whetton (Wednesfield). Surprise rider of the year has been Damian Pelaczyk (Leicester), his run to the A Final secured with 14 points, which included the beating of Junior Laurels winner Ed Morton (Sheffield) and Brandon.

The meeting got to heat 13, when the heavens opened to deluge the track, which soon had nearly two metres of water on the inside (the starting grid was under water almost to grid 2’s starting blocks). Jake White (East Park) won the race that took place during the downpour.

The match was suspended for 20 minutes to allow mopping up to take place. With several riders and referee’s Andy Schofield and Ben Higham assisting the track staff the track was soon clear of water. With the sun again shining proceedings continued. There was another slight delay when Cameron Gill (Coventry) crashed heavily in heat 17, after hitting his knee on the outer kerb. This seemingly putting him out of any more races. He would surprising re-appear to win the D Final, a race which would see Owen Wells (Hethersett) take a nasty spill on the last corner. Owen was not as fortunate as Cameron, a trip to A & E when he got home diagnosing a possible fractured thumb.

The impressive Adam Turnbull (Bury) won the C final, with Ed making the most of grid one in the B final. Adam won the A final, sprinting away from grid one to defeat Brandon, who took the overall title by a clear 25 points. Damien held Fraser at the back to claim third, which placed him in second overall (just one point ahead of Jake White).

A great days racing had the 128 races completed by 5.30, just as the SWFC match was kicking off.

Report by Rob Mawhood