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Mel Davies

Mel’s Race Report

Motorplex criteriums, 9 January

by Mel Davies

The first event of the New Year was supported by 65 riders who were riding with the object of removing their excess Christmas stomach bulges. Those who had relaxed in the holiday period soon found themselves in difficulty, as the day turned out to be very windy and if there wasn’t a wheel to stick to the unfortunate soon found themselves facing the ire of referee, Bob Addy, who applied the rule that anyone lapped should be pulled out of the field on the new short 1km circuit.

In order of racing, E Grade faced the hardest conditions of the day. However, this did not stop Pat Briggs from attacking on the first lap. This followed a couple of months of prospecting on the goldfields, so it was no surprise to see him return to the peleton after one lap and be eventually called out by Bob Addy. 

The damage to the peleton came after three laps when a female contingent of Cathy Bush, Lilian Heidel and Theresa Smith attacked into the wind and split the field asunder. Further damage was done when Cathy Bush attacked her compatriots. A few laps later she was joined by trial rider Jeffrey Giles which led to even more riders losing contact. The latter part of the race saw Lillian Heidel, Bob Stephens and Natalie Quick recover their composure to finish third, fourth and fifth overall, while in a last lap attack Jeffrey Giles proved too strong for Cathy Bush when winning by 13 seconds.

D Grade’s race of 14 riders saw a big split in the ranks when an attack led by Troy Coulthard saw the field disintegrating on the third lap to eventually coalesce into a break of six riders who stayed ahead of the chasers for most of the race. The final lap saw a close-fought sprint taken by Craig Bartlett with Troy a close second, followed by Richard Barville, Keaton McGrath, Chris Howard and Rebecca Wheaton.

B Grade were next off the grid and this proved one of the most active races of the day. 

Ben Phillips made the first move on the first lap to be joined by Joe Grasso on the following circuit of the course. 

However, with only a few seconds advantage they were absorbed on the fifth lap when Darren Dunstan decided to attack but he was caught and dropped by Ian Lyne who went on to lead for another three laps until joined by Ben Wray. 

Out on their own, they pegged their lead by between 13 and 15 seconds per lap until three laps to go when they lost much of their advantage and attacks as the chasers made inroads. 

Trial rider Jason Andersch proved strongest when he successfully attacked in the bell lap to take the race, with a deserving Ben Wray on his wheel and Con Antonas another three seconds behind. 

He was followed by Gavin Wark, Mark Shellard, Lachlan Streeton and a host of others. Ian Lyne who had given his all finished in thirteenth place, 10 seconds behind the winner.

A Grade saw some aggressive riding. On the first lap, jersey leader Clint Thompson tried out the field when taking a lead of five seconds and was joined by Tom Ford and Callum Henderson. 

On the following lap all came together again until Jon Gregg and Ian Gregory took up the challenge to soon build up a lead of 15 seconds over the main bunch, and with Tom Ford fighting alone in no-man’s land. 

At the 37-minute mark, the duo still had a lead of 15 seconds which they managed to maintain over the main bunch, with Tom Ford still in between. 

With a lead of 12 seconds at the bell, Jon Gregg successfully attacked his compatriot on the final lap to take first place five seconds ahead of Ian Gregory and 28 seconds ahead of Tom Ford. Clint Thompson and Brecht Van Gastel finished in the same second.

Being last to start, C Grade had the best weather of the day with the wind losing its bite and the sun warming up proceedings. However, this was not enough for an attacking race, and it proved another C Grade event with little action and riders happy to ride comfortably in a line for lap after lap. 

There was some attrition at the back of the field and only on the final lap was there action at the front of the field when trial rider Travis Sheehy attacked to gap the field. Victory went to Travis by seven seconds. He was followed across the line by Tim James and John Liso, with Tony Smith, Dave Menarry, Neil Vroomans and others close behind.