Twenty two riders contested the races at Darnum on Saturday. The heavy rain in the hour leading up to the start may have kept the numbers down. The day’s highlight was long time C grade place getter Graeme Patrick finally making it onto the top step of the podium.
A and B grade combined to make the biggest field of the day. Thirteen riders started and the race was constantly fractured by riders trying to make a break. Simon Baxter started proceedings with a jump off the front. When the other riders stopped laughing and started to chase Baxter was caught at the butter factory on lap one. Neil Walker was the next to try his luck and he was more successful. Nearing the end of Lap 2 he was joined by Pete Finlayson, Pete Whelan and Jimmy Lalor who worked together well to establish a 35 second break by the end of lap 3. Whelan was struggling and went back to the bunch. Lalor, Finlayson and Walker kept working but were caught near the end of lap 5. At the bell the whole field was together. Steve Twinning was allowed to roll off the front after the turn off Sthurs Rd. Jimmy Lalor jumped across to him and the pair opened a small gap. Jarrod Jones was doing some half-hearted chasing but when he rolled off to let someone else do some work no-one was keen. JJ ceased the opportunity to jump across to his muppet mate and the race was over. Muppet 1, Jimmy Lalor, powered to the line to make it two wins in a row. Muppet 2, Jarryd Jones, took second with a ridiculously exuberant celebration while crossing the line in second place. He must have been watching his brother. Matt Kennelly finished well to take third with Thommo fourth and Neil Walker fifth.
In C grade Graeme Patrick did most of the pace making throughout the race as usual. Zvonko Maric looked strong and John Taylor chimed in with a turn whenever needed. Kate Prestidge was having her first start in C grade and she cleverly let the men do most of the work, only choosing to work them over on the hills. Graeme has lost the last 27 sprint finishes he’s been involved in as he always takes the leadout role. Finally he patiently waited as Zvonko Maric led him out in the run to the finish. Greame tucked in behind and waited. He waited, then waited some more. Zvonko moved into the middle of the road nearing the line leaving the door open for Graeme to sprint up the inside and finally take a well-deserved victory. When asked after the race if it was easier letting the other guy lead out the sprint Graeme said “Oh Yeah.” Look out C grade. He knows how to win them now. Kate Prestidge showed she is more than capable of competing in C grade taking third place. The word from the course is once she learns how to corner better she’ll have more energy left for the finish. She loses 5 bike lengths every corner and has to work hard to get back on each time.
D grade started with C grade which enabled Mick Blackwood to stick on the C graders for 3 laps. Mick took the win by 4 minutes from Andrew Gordon in second and Renee Patrick in third. Andrew had to work very hard to shake Renee. Mick was promoted to C grade mid race but was immediately dropped by the group so is safe in D grade for another week.
Next week’s race is a handicap at Cloverlea starting at 2.00pm