Match report by Matt Parr

On paper this year’s Women’s Regional Pairs looked a close one to call and the result was as tight as it could have been.

Regional Pairs podium – Photo by Andrew Parr

South West Edge Ahead

Heat 1 and a perfect gate from South East’s Lily Parr from 4 and it looked to be a 5 all with the South West but a fall for Lily in the loose, saw Maddie Saunders and Nataleigh Goulden take maximum points.

The Midlands made their intentions clear in heat 2 as Bekah Humpheries and Lizzie Rigley lined up on the inside grids against Laura Watson and Emily Burgess. Lizzie Rigley rode off from gate 1 to win the race but Bekah’s confidence was unmatched, holding her gate 3 with Emily Burgess on 4. The Midlands taking a 6-4 advantage.

Midlands Lead

The North fired right back in heat 4 with maximum points taken from the SW. Heat 5 and more gained points for the North. After being given space by her teammate Chloe Pearce, Lily Parr whilst attacking for the lead, took a tumble again for the SE. The Midlands notched up a 7-3 just before the break against the SW which made the scores going into the interval Midlands 18, North 17, SW 13 and SE 12.

A shared heat 7 saw Lexie Curtis follow Lily over the line with Nat looking after Ella Case coming after.

Winning Midlands team (L-R) Lizzie Rigley, Lucy Whitehead, Bekah Humphries – Photo by Andrew Parr

Titanic Tussle

The top 2 teams rode in the next heat, Lucy Whitehead picked up a valuable 2nd for the Midlands behind Emily with Lucy’s team mate Lizzie taking 3rd. A shared heat and still 1 point in it.

It all happened for the North in heat 10. An exclusion for Nat in the first run of the race and fantastic riding from Laura Watson in the rerun, saw the North take maximum points and pile the pressure on the Midlands trio.

All To Play For

Each team had 1 race left, the North were 1 point ahead of the Midlands for gold and the SE were 1 ahead of the SW for bronze but the final races were SE v North and SW v Midlands. A short rest and the ladies were ready. Take a risk or play it safe?? SE off the ins, North off the outs. Lily won off gate 1 followed home by Emily, Laura and Ella. The North were 6 up.

North team (L-R) Laura Watson, Emily Burgess – Photo by Andrew Parr

Midlands To The Fore

Midlands off the ins needed maximum points for the overall win but the SW needed the max for a chance of Bronze. A messy first corner but the Midlands pairing were out in front, Lexie battled hard in 3rd but couldn’t get past Lizzie who crossed the line behind her team mate Bekah.

So the Midlands claimed victory in the Women’s Regional Pairs event 2024. The margins were so close and the win was claimed by just one point in a match that delivered speed, gates, falls, drama and tactics. The Midlands knew their 6-4 heat 2 advantage over the North was valuable and played the rest of the match out to protect it.

Midlands Have Their Say

A few words on the victory from proud team captain Lizzie Rigley and inspirational women’s rider Lucy Whitehead.

“As the Midlands team captain it meant a great deal to see, and to be a part of the Midlands winning team. Seeing the effort and determination the girls put in year in year out, this was without question, a well deserved moment to put the Midlands on the top step. It’s not easy to pick three girls out of over eight, who are all worthy, and I think it’s important to note that all our girls who couldn’t race made the effort to be there on the sidelines supporting, cheering and motivating us. That for me makes this win theirs as much as it ours who raced.” Lizzie Rigley

“It’s a great opportunity to still be able to compete with such youthful, strong competition being the oldest female across the sport. Being involved in Cycle Speedway from the age of 9years old, it’s so rewarding to see the progression over the years in women’s racing. We now have girls making international level which is a credit to all the girls and I hope this continues over the years to come” Lucy Whitehead

Top Scorers

Maddie, Lily and Emily top scored for their regions as did Lizzie who scored 18+4 from 6 rides. Consistency from the Midlands saw them triumph on the day.

A massive congratulations to Team Midlands on their victory and to all the riders, managers and volunteers who made the match happen.