By Rob Monk
When conditions are still and the sun is shining the scratch men start to worry. Will they be able to catch the limit riders when harsh conditions are not in their favor? At Darnum on Saturday the hard men on scratch, Shane Stiles and Justin Gravett had little to fear. They set themselves from the start to catch all those before them. On lap one they set a new lap record for the Darnum circuit averaging and amazing 41.3km/h for the lap. They ended up averaging over 40 for the race and catching all before them.
The limit bunch of Adele Whelan, Louise Clark, Michelle Scurr and Peter O’Donnell made the chasers work hard. Louise and Peter were off the front after one lap. After two laps Louise decided to go it alone leaving Pete on the hills. By the start of lap three Pete and Louise were back together and still leading the scratch men by seven minutes. The problem for them was they started 17 minutes in front so had lost more than half their head start at the halfway mark of the race.
Louise and Pete were holding off the group of Terry Kelly, Colin Manitveld and James Golding. Golding punctured on lap 2 meaning Terry and Col would suffer on their own.
The 11 minutes bunch of Kaylene Chaproniere, Zvonko Maric, Andrew Gordon and first time racer Bruce Staben worked well for most of the race. They were not caught by those behind until lap 4.
The 6 minute group of Stuart Battley, Neil Walker, Col Brown, Paul Yeatman and George Tambassis were hard to catch but by lap 5 they were caught by Justin Gravitt, Shane Stiles, Graeme Parker and Matt Malacarne. They had joined the group of Jayden Manintveld and Pete Whelan.
Jack Walk, Pete Finlayson and Jayman Presidge found the going too hard and finished the race early.
A bunch of 20 riders was together just after the beginning of the final lap. Stiles, Gravitt, Salton and Manintveld were still keen to drive the bunch on but some of the early groups were able to hang in with them. Kaylene had a jump off the front to show the boys she was still a factor in the finish. Terry Kelly and Col Manintveld would not be shaken.
On the hill past the butter factory Pete Whelan and Jayden Manintveld took off. Staben got on the front to help bring them back. Dave Salton tried to bridge to them but when Stiles put the hammer down on the final climb to the last corner the race splintered. Only Graeme Parker could follow Stiles in the home straight.
Stiles toyed with Parker all the way to the line taking the win easily. Parker was second. The rest followed in like Brown’s Cows. Tambassis was third then Battley and Jayden Manintveld but the gaps were large and the cadence low.
There is no racing next week and the following week Warragul takes on Leongatha in a combine at Poowong North.
A woman’s racing clinic was also held on Saturday. Nine ladies put a race number on for the first time and rode 3 laps of the circuit. They all looked comfortable and we hope they join the club soon. Bec Whelan and Kathy Cooper were very strong.