Billy Hamill Testimonial : Sunday 26th March
Winner: Nicki Pedersen (Wolverhampton & Denmark)
2nd place: Billy Hamill; 3rd Leigh Adams, 4th Tony Rickardsson
Pre-Main Event: Junior Four Team Challenge;
The Sven Heiding Memorial Trophy (donated by CRASH)
COVENTRY 14, CLUB CRADLEY HEATH 12, WOLVES 8, PETERBOROUGH 1.
Bees... Wolves... Mark Steel 3 3 = 6 Mark Blackwell 2 1 = 3 James Mann 2 3 = 5 Steven McAllister 1 2 = 3 Lee Hodgson 1 2 = 3 Rob Finlow 2 X = 2 Heathens... Pumas... Carl Wilkinson 3 2 = 5 Matt Fearn 0 R = 0 Neil Painter E 1 = 1 Chris Schramm 1 E = 1 Luke Clifton 3 3 = 6 Chris Moorcroft - - = 0 Heat 1 (65.8): Steel, Blackwell, Schramm, Painter (EF). Heat 2 (66.3): Clifton, Mann, McAllister, Moorcroft (NS). Heat 3 (68.3): Wilkinson, Finlow, Hodgson, Fearn. Heat 4 (66.9): Mann, McAllister, Painter, Schramm (EF). Heat 5 (65.6): Clifton, Hodgson, Finlow (FX), Moorcroft (NS). Heat 6 (64.7): Steel, Wilkinson, Blackwell, Fearn (Ret).
Coventry's 'Young Bees' won the warm up to Billy's big day, beginning and ending the six-race mini-match with tapes-to-flag victories from Mark Steel. The 16-year old, ironically voted Cradley's rider of the season in '99 and sporting his Club CH shirt after the meeting, was fresh from a 6 point return on his Premier League debut for Swindon last night and easily dominated this 12 rider field. Also unbeaten in his two rides however was Heathens' new boy Luke Clifton, and the two were challenged well by James Mann and Carl Wilkinson - both beaten just once by Clifton and Steel respectively.
Cradley captain Neil Painter was unlucky to suffer an engine failure in the first heat while lying second - two lost points which would have ensured joint first for the Heathens in the final reckoning. Then, after Clifton outpaced Mann in heat two, Wilkinson led home the improving pair of Finlow and Hodgson. Painter's luck return in the next when he stole third place one the line from the engine-stricken Chris Schramm, but it wasn't enough to keep us in the hunt. Despite Clifton's defeat of Lee Hodgson in the re-run of heat five to bring the teams to within a single point, it was all too easy for Steel in the final race, who wrapped up the home club's victory.
Steel was the best rider on show; Last years 12.00 man Carl Wilkinson suffered his first defeat for Club CH, but then joined the Heathens fans on the terraces, along with Luke Clifton, for the main meeting. Clifton looks a good prospect in green and white for the rest of the season, but the next match at Boston looks increasingly daunting with the Barracudas including Steel, Wilkinson & Clifton in their side.
The Main Event: 20-race Individual Meeting, for qualification to the finals.
Scorechart 1. Billy Hamill 3 3 3 2 3 = 14 2. Tony Rickardsson 0 2 2 3 3 = 10 3. Scott Nicholls 1 2 3 2 2 = 10 4. Jimmy Nilsen 2 FX 0 1 2 = 5 5. Mark Loram 1 2 1 1 3 = 8 6. Steve Johnston 2 0 1 0 3 = 6 7. Nicki Pedersen 3 1 3 3 1 = 11 8. Ronnie Correy F 1 1 0 1 = 3 9. Ryan Sullivan 1 1 2 3 2 = 9 10.Leigh Adams 3 1 1 3 2 = 10 11.Sam Ermolenko 0 0 2 2 1 = 5 12.Todd Wiltshire 2 3 E 0 1 = 6 13.Lee Richardson 0 0 2 1 0 = 3 14.Stuart Robson 2 3 0 1 0 = 6 15.Peter Karlsson 3 3 3 2 0 = 11 16.Jesper B Jensen 1 2 0 F 0 = 3
Billy got his own main event underway with a cracking first corner in the first heat, eventually emerging from the pack to start with a victory. It was the first of four for the main man, being beaten only by eventual winner Nicki Pedersen. World Champ Tony Rickardsson had been leading the race when his clutch came away from his handlebars leaving the Swede with difficulty to control the bike, let alone finish. After that last place, he reeled off two second places and two wins to enter the semi-finals on top form. Jimmy Nilsen got the better of old rival Scott Nicholls, but it was the young Brit who went on to clock up double figures from his five rides while the new Oxford signing was left loitering in the bottom half with just five.
Nicki Pedersen set out his stall in heat two with a win. In his following rides, he ended up on the floor and was on the rough end of some hard riding but came through in the end. Unfortunately, his Wolves team-mates were in less impressive shape. Correy, Ermolenko and Jensen were all off the pace, but ex-Wolf Peter Karlsson started well with three wins. The other Oxford representatives, Steve Johnston & Todd Wiltshire both agonisingly missed out on the final reckoning by no more than a point, after both had been involved in some close competitive action.
One of the most impressive performances of the afternoon came from late addition Stuart Robson, who took the place of the absent Matej Ferjan. The younger Robbo deservedly reached the semi-final stage after some fine tussles, including one race win over Rickardsson & Adams no less! It was not to be for two other Brits though, with Lee Richardson inexplicably struggling on his new home track and Mark Loram never looking comfortable with the slick Brandon oval. Completing the line-up were Aussies Ryan Sullivan and Leigh Adams who both gave good accounts of themselves; Adams eventually reached the final while Sullivan looked classy early on.
The Finals: £2000 winner takes all first prize
The winners of each semi-final joined the top scorer from the qualifiers in the final, with the last chance shoot-out giving an extra chance to the riders in 2nd and 3rd from each semi.
With Hamill already in the final after an untouchable 14-point haul, Tony Rickardsson booked his place alongside him with a victory over Peter Karlsson while Poole duo Scott Nicholls and Mark Loram struggled at the back.
Leigh Adams was the third name on the sheet after keeping just clear of a close battle between Robson and Pedersen with Sullivan at the back. The Wolves man was far from happy with his treatment from Robbo and showed his feelings with a spray of shale after the chequered flag.
In the last chance race, it was Robson battling away again, but this time Pedersen had leapt into the lead and it was Scott Nicholls who eventually got the better of the young Bee. Karlsson's formed had faded and he was stuck at the back.
And so to the final, and the favourites were pitched at either end of the starting line: Hamill on the inside and Rickardsson on the outside. But, as the two of them met at the first corner, it was Nicki Pedersen who emerged from the middle to pull clear down the back straight. Rickardsson gave chase and was all over the Dane for two and a half laps, before Hamill dived underneath into second. It was too late to catch the leader though and the only change of order on the last lap was for Adams to steal third from the World Champ just before Pedersen wheelied over the finish line with a triumphant kick of his right boot as he came own again. An impressive performance deserved full credit, but there were a string of highly praiseworthy performances right through the line-up to contribute to an afternoon of close hard-fought racing.