Great Blakenham rewrite record books

CYCLE SPEEDWAY: Great Blakenham continue to re-write their record books after winning the British under 16's Championship for the first time in the clubs history.

Great Blakenham Cycle Speedway Club continue to re-write their record books after winning the British under 16's Championship for the first time in the clubs history. With Kesgrave finishing runners-up in turned into a great day for the Suffolk Clubs.

The day started with a record 14 clubs entering the event held at Hellesden Norwich. With a good racing surface and a slick presentation -that you have come to expect from the Norfolk club- the scene was set for a memorable day's racing.

Kesgrave were in the first qualifying round with current holders Poole, Coventry, hosting club Norwich, Sandwel "B", Horspath (Oxford) and East Anglian rivals Hethersett.

With the top four making it through to the semi's racing was close with riders giving their all for club glory. At the half way stage Kesgrave found themselves one point behind 1999 champions Horspath and level with Norwich on 25 points, with Hethersett on 24 and Sandwell 16. Kesgrave went on to win through to the semi's on 55 points with Horspath 50, Hethersett 49 and Norwich 46. All Kesgrave riders showed a liking for the track and felt confident going into the semi finals with Russell Stevenson coming in as reserve and picking up two-second places.

Now the turn of Great Blakenham who found themselves against pre meeting favourites Bury-Greater Manchester, Coventry "A", Sandwell "A", Wednesfield and Eaton-Norwich.

Following the first match tactics were used by Great Blakenham knowing who their opponents would be in the semi's. The standard of racing was as good as the first and Bury looked to be able to hold up to the billing leading at the interval 28 points to Great Blakenham's 25, with Wednesfield 22, Sandwell 22 Coventry 19 and Eaton 13.

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Controlled racing from all Great Blakenham riders saw them finish comfortably behind Bury (52), themselves on 46 points, with Sandwell "A" (44). With Wednesfield and Coventry tieing on 42 points a run off was required for the final semi-final spot. Chris Jewkes (Wednesfield) went on to beat Coventry's Ashley Pointer.

The first semi-final saw both Suffolk clubs up against Norwich and Sandwell "A", this looking the easier of the semi's both were confident of making it into the final. Kesgrave's Lewis Osborne continued his good form from the first match, as did Ryan Bartram who seemed back to his best form of the season. Great Blakenham had Adam Peck in a rich vein of form in all competition leading the team from the front. At the half way stage Kesgrave held a point advantage over Great Blakenham and Sandwell who were both on 20 points. After the 16 heats there was nothing between the Suffolk clubs with them both finishing on 44 and into the final with Sandwell 36 and Norwich 34.

The second semi was harder to predict with Bury looking to go through but any one of three to join them. After some tense heats and excellent racing Hethersett edged out Horspath and with 1998 winners Wednesfield missing the services of Mike Morgans their day was over scores 49, 40,38,32 respectively.

With the final having three East Anglian club represented it shows the strength of cycle speedway in the region.

The grading of the track, the pre-match presentations and the tension was building for what promised to be a battle royal for the 2001 British under 16's Team Championship.

After the first four heats Great Blakenham held the lead 12 pts. to Bury's 10 with Kesgrave and Hethersett on 9.This gave them a real boost as they had raced off gate 4. With the next four races Kesgrave had the inside gate position and scored well to bring their total to 21. With Great Blakenham's Will Page and Daniel Pike winning they increased their lead now being on 24, Bury's challenge seemed to be faulting back on 17 with Hethersett on 16. Following the next four races Blakenham had one hand on the trophy, scoring another solid 12 points with a brilliant ride from Greg Jacobs, and bringing their total onto 36 with Kesgrave on 30, Bury 28 and Hethersett 34.

Adam Peck who had lead his team from the front with a day's performance that more senior riders would be proud to achieve won heat 13. Kesgrave's Lewis Osborne won heat 14 to put the pressure back on Blakenham. Daniel Pike had a match-winning ride in heat 15. The final race and seond place overall was still at stake with Bury needing to win with Kesgrave finishing last to force a race-off. Bury's Rob Pearce did his bit and with Blakenham's Lee Pike beating Elliott Ross the scores were level 39 points each.

Bury had Rob Pearce with Lewis Osborne representing Kesgrave, as with all the days racing all four laps were absorbing with Osborne winning the race from the back and rounding off a brilliant days racing.

In what has been a tremendous season so far for Great Blakenham it is fitting that the younger team members have their moment of glory. The performances from Adam Peck, Greg Jacobs, Daniel Pike and Lee Pike- who has shown so much promise in his short time in the sport- above all the riding of Will Page who was my man on the tournament.

With both Suffolk clubs showing what sterling work has been done to encourage youngsters into the sport, who along with Somersham have shown this season the way forward for the sport of cycle speedway.

Quote from Pete Ingram Kesgrave team manager:

Firstly we would like to congratulate Great Blakenham for winning the event, and we were very pleased to finish second to make it a Suffolk 1-2. The boys' aim for the day was to get to the final and anything after that was a bonus, as all of the riders are young enough to ride in the event next year.

Each of the Kesgrave riders, supported by the Travelwise campaign, deserves praise for the way they rode in the qualifying rounds and the final. The all gave 100% and as the team manager I cannot ask for more than that.

At one point we thought that we had lost second place as Elliott Ross, who has only been riding 4 months, fell when trying to gain a third place in the last heat which would have assured second place. Lewis Osborne rode a brilliant run off against Robert Pearce of Bury, and passed the Bury rider who tried to ride the race tactically.

We are looking forward to next year with the same team, as some team will lose riders who will be too old. The Kesgrave team all live in the Town and less than a kilometre of the track at the community centre, and started riding at the regular training session held on Wednesday nights.

Great Blakenham Cycle Speedway team and trophy: L/R Adam Peck, Daniel Pike, William Page, Lee Pike and Greg Jacobs. Picture Owen Hines

Kesgrave Cycle Speedway team and medals: L/R Elliott Ross, Ryan Bartram, Chris Osborne, Lewis Osborne and Russell Stevenson. Picture Owen Hines

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