Harrison Bacon and Lewis Brinkhoff race to British title success – as Suffolk’s cycle speedway riders shine over the British Finals’ weekend
PUBLISHED: 11:32 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:14 30 August 2017
Suffolk riders were to the fore as the biggest event of the cycle speedway calendar took place over the Bank Holiday weekend – the British championships.
Ipswich’s Harrison Bacon led the way, on his way to his first-ever British title, with a terrific performance in the Under-16 boys championship at Wednesfield on a hot Bank Holiday Monday.
His was a gutsy performance, in front of a huge crowd, that saw him race to 18 points, finishing two ahead of his nearest rivals.
One of those nearest rivals was Bacon’s Ipswich Eagles team-mate Ben Clarke.
Clarke, who had on the Saturday, finished runner-up in the boys Under-14 championships, produced a very solid performance at the next level up, losing a run-off for second place to Poole’s Fraser Garnett.
The hugely talented Lewis Brinkhoff from Kesgrave, was just a point behind Clarke, having already beaten the Ipswich rider in the Under-14 final on the Saturday at Leicester – a fourth British title for young Brinkhoff - one of the biggest talents in the sport.
Indeed, the Panther delivered a faultless performance to take that Under-14 title, with runner-up Clarke dropping just a point to Brinkhoff during the meeting. Incredibly it was the the pair’s third British 1-2 on the trot.
Gemma Hill of Ipswich came out on top in her battle with Horspath’s Alice Neighbour in the Under-14 Girls, but both were pipped by Poole’s Maddie Saunders, who claimed her first British victory.
While Suffolk riders Bacon and Brinkhoff were celebrating British championships, at the younger age groups, ‘Little League’ titles were up for grabs for U8s and U10s.
British Cycling have now followed Sport England’s guidance and official British titles don’t start until under-12s.
Kesgrave’s Luca Woodhouse and Oliver Edmunds finished champion and runner-up in the ‘Little League’ Under 8s, while there was an excellent performance from seven-year-old Lily Parr, who finished third in the Girls’ Under-10s.
In the Under-12 Boys British championships Kesgrave’s Noah Woodhouse tied with Bury’s Harry Radford for the title, but had to settle for second spot after a close run-off that saw Woodhouse draw the outside gates.
At Wolverhampton’s East Park, the largest track in the country, Ipswich’s Gemma Hill and Chloe Pearce joined Leicester’s Chloe Whitehead for a run-off for third spot in the Under-16 Girls final,
Hill took her second podium of the weekend after her Under-14 Girls runner-up spot.
The 16 riders in the Open Individual final – the pinnacle of the weekend action on the Monday – had qualified over a two-day programme of semi finals. Great Blakenham’s Josh Brooke was one of the favourites for the win based on recent victories in the HSBC Elite GP Series and the national Christine Ellis Memorial meeting.
Others tipped Birmingham’s Chris Timms and Wednesfield’s Paul Heard on his home track, but Brooke’s main opponent proved to be Myke Grimes of Coventry who in 2016 saw Ben Mould ride around a last bend pile-up to snatch the British title from him.
Blakenham’s Lewis Osborne and Ipswich’s Ashley Hill joined the powerful line-up along with Ipswich’s Leon Mower, in his first Open final.
Grimes opened with a unexpected gate across Brooke from gate four, then was lucky in his second heat as he was brought down while passing from fourth to third while Heard led.
Grimes made no mistake from the restart to open a one point lead over Brooke. Heard kept the pressure on Grimes and had his own luck in his final heat when the referee did not stop the heat after a three rider pile-up. Grimes finished on a 20-point maximum, only the second rider ever to do so; Heard finished on 19 and Brooke took third spot on 16 points.
- Suffolk riders, including British champions Harrison Bacon and Lewis Brinkhoff, are next in action on Saturday at Great Blakenham for the Suffolk Individual Championships. Then on Sunday, September 24, the East & South East region squad travel to Hull for the final round of the Battle of Britain series. The senior squad need a victory to keep up the pressure on the Midlands, who race the South West. Both the East & South East and Midlands have lost one meeting. The junior squad could finish second in their mini league should they pull off victory over the North and with a full strength team available, which hasn’t always been the case, they will travel to Hull in buoyant mood.