INTERNATIONAL: A busy year for Ireland

Ireland’s riders saw plenty of action Internationally in 2017, both at team and individual levels. The action started with the Home Internationals at Bury where Ireland fielded teams in all 3 events.

The Veterans opened the proceedings and was notable for the return to the track after an 18 month absence of Ireland co-manager Steve Copping due to Phil Widdas having broken down en route. Paddy Wenn top scored with 13 points with co-manager Gary Colby scoring 8, Phil Hemming 7, John Murphy 6 and Steve 5 as Ireland finished 3rd with 39 points

The Junior match followed but despite giving debuts to Jimmy Wassall and Kieron Alton (probably the youngest ever rider to make an International debut), Ireland could only finish 4th. Jimmy top scored with 8 points while Katie Adams, Ciaran Wenn and Ciaran Collins scored 7 points each and Kieron managed 3 points.

The Senior match rounded off the action and it saw Ireland debuts for Aaron Herbert and Jonjo Slaughter but it was another 4th place finish, their cause not helped by Jonjo crashing out of the event with soft tissue damage in his 3rd race. Despite this Ireland still managed 31 points, Leon Mower top scoring with 9 points, Harley Hamill scored 7, Aaron scored 6 despite riding with an injury, Dan Butler 5 and Jonjo 4.

The action moved to the other side of the world in Australia, as 5 Ireland riders flew over to contest the World Championships and, in the case of 4 of them, put on a Great Britain shirt.

The 5 riders, Paddy and Ciaran Wenn, Leon, Charlie Rumbold & Steve (who would be the team manager for the trip), started off in a World Cup Elimination heat where Ireland needed to finish in the top 3 to make the final but it wasn’t to be as they could only finish 4th with 30 points.

Charlie top scored with 13 points, Leon scored 6, Paddy & Ciaran scored 5 each and Steve 1. 3 days later the World Individual Championships got underway at Le Fevre as far as the Ireland riders were concerned as Charlie & Leon both featured in Heat 6 of the Senior Eliminations, Charlie scoring 17 points to comfortably reach the Preliminary Finals with Leon scoring 11 which was enough to see him through as one of the 4 highest scorers after the top 10 in each heat.

Ciaran should have had a Junior Pre-Qualifying round before the Senior event but 1 rider withdrew and another rider didn’t exist, so Ciaran advanced to the semi-finals without having to turn a wheel competitively.

The following night at Le Fevre, Paddy was the 1st Ireland rider to put on a Great Britain shirt as he made his GB debut in the 1st ever Veterans Test between Australia & Great Britain (there had been an unofficial match between the 2 countries on the 2013 tour, also at Le Fevre).

Paddy scored 11 points as GB emerged victorious by 97 points to 80. The following day saw Steve race in a pre-qualifier for the World Veterans Individual championship, just missing out on qualifying for the semi-finals(but subsequently advancing as John Whetton withdrew due to injury).The following day at Murray Bridge it was Charlie’s turn to put on a GB shirt in the 2nd Men’s Test between GB and Australia, scoring 5 points as GB lost 84-93.

3 nights later it was the Preliminary Finals and Heat 2 at Salisbury saw Charlie score 14 points to make the semi-finals but Leon could only score 8 points at Findon in heat 4. The following night at Le Fevre saw Ciaran make history by putting on a GB shirt and following in the tyretracks of his dad Paddy by making his GB debut in the 3rd Junior test between Australia & GB.

Charlie Rumbold

Ciaran managed a very creditable 6 points(not a reflection of the effort he was putting in) as GB won 100-74.It was during the Australia-GB Junior match that Steve was informed that he would be racing in the 2nd World Veterans Semi-Final where he would join Paddy(who needed only 1 race in his pre-qualifying round which he won).

Paddy comfortably qualified for the final with 16 points but Steve couldn’t capitalise on his late call-up, only managing 5 points which should have been 7 but for a slip in his 2nd race when in 2nd place.The following day the action moved to Findon where Paddy rode in the 2nd Veterans test, scoring 16 points as Gb comfortably beat Australia 111-66. Charlie then rode in the 1st Senior semi-final but could only manage 5 points, his cause not helped by 2 exclusions.

Charlie was back on track the following night as GB faced Poland at Le Fevre but could only manage 3 points in his 1st 3 races before being replaced in his next race and then suffering a controversial exclusion in his final race.

The following night at Salisbury Paddy donned a GB shirt once again in the final Veterans test where his 13 points helped GB to a 112-68 victory over Australia. It was Ciaran’s turn the following night at Le Fevre in the 2nd of the Junior World Semi-Finals but he missed the cut with 8 points. 2 nights later, back at Le Fevre, it was Steve’s turn to make his GB debut as a GB ”B” Veterans team took on their Australian counterparts. Steve scored 5 points as GB lost 83-93.

Paddy then rode in the Veterans World Final at Findon scoring 8 points, his score restricted by an exclusion in his 2nd race as he was deemed to have caused Australian rider Brad Hoppo to fall. Paddy then joined Charlie & Leon for the World Pairs and although he only took 1 ride it was enough to ensure Ireland finished 4th on 16 points ahead of Wales. Charlie scored 9 points, Leon 6 and Paddy 1

At the beginning of March, Gary and Steve were informed that they would continue as joint team managers of Ireland until the end of the 2020 World Championships.

Photos by Andrew Davison.