by Rob Monk
The handicapper decided that with the race being 6 laps the bunches would be bigger and more spaced than last week.
First away off limit (10 minutes) were Pete Finlayson, Jason Williams, Pete Bailey and first time race Connor Bagot. Connor did plenty of pace setting in the early laps and will be a rider to watch in the future.
With 7.5 minutes on scratch the bunch of Jason Fritzlaff, Daniel Bishop, Gary Ollson, and Mark Mason would be hard to catch. This proved to be the case. If Olly hadn’t decided to stay out late on Saturday they may have even stayed away.
The 5 minute group of Tex Walker, Col Brown, Lochie Mushet and Jimmy Lalor started fast. Too fast for Jimmy. He decided he did not want to ride with this bunch and waited for the 2.5 minute group to come along.
On the chopping block was Rob Monk, Leigh Hauxwell, Pete Whelan, Graeme Parker and Jayman Prestidge. They teamed well on lap one and looked to be going well until Prestidge decided he’d had enough only 5 laps short of the finish. His prerace routine like Olly’s was less than ideal.
Despite the loss of Prestidge the chopping block group circulated well picking up Lalor first then towing him back to the remainder of his group on lap 4. They caught the two front group early on lap five and it looked like scratch may not catch them.
As is often the case when a number of groups come together some riders decide that sitting on the back and not contributing to the pace making will be a good option. This usually results in the combined bunch slowing down and getting caught. Senior riders Hauxwell and Monk encouraged those sitting on to contribute and soon everyone was rolling through and the big group picked up the speed.
The scratch group could see this combined group near the end of lap 4 but Shane Stiles, Jayden Manintveld, Will Lumby, Chris Joustra and Jim Timmer-Arends were struggling to catch them.
With more gentle encouragement from Monk everyone was contributing again on the final lap past the Darnum Footy ground and it looked like the scratch men would not catch.
Stiles did a big turn near the top of Sthurs Rd and Timmer–Arends closed the gap on the downhill run. Scratch caught the combined group as they rounded the corner for the home straight. Will Lumby dragged Stiles and Manintveld to the front and then Stiles took over. He put the power down on the hill to the finish and gapped the chasers. Jayden went past him to take the win. Stiles was second. Fritzlaff showed he could have contributed more to staying in front of scratch as he was very fresh at the finish and sprinted well for third. Then followed Rob Monk, Daniel Bishop, Leigh Hauxwell, Tex Walker, Pete Whelan, Gary Ollson and Pete Finlayson.
The final race of the series is on August the 7th at Darnum.