It was a full night of Track Racing as PACC hosted the running of the John Lehman Wheelrace at the Adelaide Superdrome last night. Initially run in 1951, the race has a long history and despite a brief hiatus in the mid 2000’s, PACC has done its best to revive the prestigious race and make it a highlight of the Summer Track calendar.
The night began with a traditional round of Heartstarters to get the lungs and legs (and heart, obviously) going and then it was straight into the John Lehman Wheelrace heats. With the first five from each of the three heats going through to the final, the frontmarkers heat was dominated by Wayne Hogben riding off 200m and Sam Farrell was tucked onto his wheel for the ride. Tony Brennand has won this race twice before (96-97 & 05-06) but with the limit at the Superdrome of 245m, it is always tough for the front markers, but he rode smartly to finish 3rd, make the final and give himself a chance.
The middlemarkers race is always tightly packed and the pack often condenses quickly, turning it into a Sprinters race. This was the case here, with Sprinters Peter Szegedi, Mark Gregory and Joel McWhinney taking the first 3 places. The backmarkers race followed, with Kyle Franson, the limit man riding from 40m. Fellow backmarkers, Alex King and James Kelly got Franson into the first 5 but with the next best rider making the cut off 75m, he was going to have a tough chase in the final. Fast improving Alex Rendoulis showed he was going to be a force in the final by taking out the heat.
With the heats out the way, it was time for a few rounds of Keirins. The riders were fortunate enough to have the services of Gemma Kernich on the Moto, taking a break from the faster pace of her Honda H100 ‘Bucket Racer’ to tootle around the boards and get the riders up to the comparatively mellow 50km/h launch speed. With only limited riders in C and D-grade it was a straight out race, dominated by Luke Betros who even managed to avoid a visit to the ‘spew bin’ despite his efforts. In B-grade there were enough numbers to have three heats, with the first two from each going through to a final later in the night. There were few surprises, with the likes of Gregory, Szegedi, McWhinney and Botrill making the final. In the combined A/B Keirin, experienced Sean Hennessy showed a glimpse of some ever-improving form to take a win over former Keirin State Champion, Alex King and Kyle Franson.
With the 15 Wheelrace finalists psyching themselves up for the big race down in the pit area, the rest of the riders lined up for a couple of consolation Scratch Races. The field was split into two halves, with Jon Mangahas taking advantage of his superior sprinting speed to win the first Scratch Race and in the second, Alex Walker, coming off the back of some great Criterium form, won over visiting Victorian U/17 rider, Kallum Parlevliet.
Following a short break to allow the Wheelrace finalists a bit more recovery time from the hectic schedule, it was time to line up for the big one. “You’re in the starters hands, attention riders, BRTTTTTTT” came the call from the master of the mike – Graeme Zucker, and each of the pushers did their best to give their rider maximum forward momentum. It was clear Hogben was not going to wait around for anyone but Farrell was able to close the deficit quickly and the two of them were early leaders whilst the middlemarkers bunched up and started swapping turns. As predicted Franson was struggling to make in-roads into the 35m headstart to the next rider but he wasn’t giving up and was chasing hard. Coming into the bell lap, the front markers had been caught but the middle marker group was in two distinct groups and Alex Rendoulis had been chasing hard, leaping from group to group – it was impossible to make a call at this point. However it wasn’t long before two contenders burst from the front pack – Peter Szegedi with Mark Gregory hot on his heels. It looked like Gregory was going to get a great lead-out to the line and some punters had him pencilled in with his rapid closing speed around the final bend. Szegedi fought back and dug into his ‘suitcase of courage’ (cliché alert) – Gregory was on his hip and it was neck and neck down the finishing straight – a good throw on the line could decide it. Szegedi would not be denied and sucking up the pain the lactic acid was throwing at him, crossed the line less than half a wheel in front of Gregory, wide-mouthed and gaping for oxygen. Farrell was able to hold off the fast finishing Rendoulis for third and fourth and McWhinney was fifth.
Presentations followed and it was clear Szegedi was ecstatic to take the win, despite almost lacking the strength to hold the rather heavy John Lehman Trophy. The hectic pace of the nights racing had taken its toll on a few of the riders, choosing to sit-out the rest of the night racing. Another round of Keirins followed, with the highlight being the final of the B-grade Kierin. With a few ring-ins due to a couple of the finalists still recovering from placing in the Wheelrace final, it was a tight battle with riders 5 wide across the finish line, Gordon Kanki-Knight doing enough to take the win over Dean Botrill.
To finish the night was a series of Points Races for the more Endurance orientated riders. The combined C and D-graders negotiated a shorter 20 lap points race with David Radzikiewicz only taking victory over Sam Farrell by virtue of finishing the final sprint in front, with both scoring the same number of points. Despite looking shattered, Luke Betros managed to finish the race and still did not visit the ‘spew bin’! The seven B-graders that started the Points Race also negotiated a shorter race but this made each of the sprints more competitive since they were less of them. Pete Davis put his sprinting skills on show by taking out quite a few of the Sprints but all of the riders were scoring points and with the double points on offer for the last sprint it was anyones race. In the final sprint Mark Gregory made the most of the double points on offer and taking the final sprint, rocketed up into 3rd place, but it was not enough to overcome Davis and Botrill finishing 1st and 2nd respectively. The 60 lap A-grade Points race was dominated by Kyle Franson, who was able to take advantage of the 10 points on offer for taking a lap, and won 5 out of the 6 sprints on offer, including the double points for the final sprint. James Kelly rode intelligently to take out second and Alex Walker showed he has a promising future as a Track Enduro to take a well earned third place.
With the night done and dusted, PACC would like to thank Chief Commissaire Will Lyons, Commissaire Paula Hollamby, mike master Graeme Zucker, Gemma Kernich for her Moto riding services and Clerk of Course Alex Bates. Thanks to all the people who were pushers in the Wheelrace as well, it’s pretty hard to start off the fence at the Superdrome! That’s it for PACC Track Races in the near future – good luck to those riding at the upcoming National Track Championships in Sydney and if you’re a Masters rider, don’t forget to support the State Track Championships that are coming up very very soon!
Event 1 – Open D Heartstarter
A.Brennand, L.Fleming, B.Bowden
Event 2 – Open C Heartstarter
L.Betros, W.Hogben, S.Farrell
Event 3 – Open B Heartstarter
K.Parlevliet, A.Rendoulis, G.Kanki-Knight
Event 4 – Open A Heartstarter
A.King, S.Hennessy, K.Franson
Event 5 – Wheelrace Heats
Heat 1 W.Hogben (200m), S.Farrell (175m), A.Brennand (235m)
Heat 2 P. Szegedi (125m), M.Gregory (145m), J.McWhinney (140m)
Heat 3 A. Rendoulis (75m), S.Hennessy (85m), G.Kanki-Knight (110m)
Event 6 – Open C/D Keirin
L.Betros, S.Farrell, A.Brennand
Event 7 – Open B Keirin
Heat 1 M.Gregory, J.McWhinney, D.Radzikiewicz
Heat 2 P.Szegedi, G.Kanki-Knight, K.Parlevliet
Heat 3 P.Lechelt, D.Botrill, M.Young
Event 8 – Open A/B Keirin
S.Hennessy, A.King, K.Franson
Event 9 – Open C/D Consolation Scratch Race
J.Mangahas, D.Radzikiewicz, P.King
Event 10 & 11 – Open A/B Consolation Scratch Race
A.Walker, K.Parlevliet, A.King
Event 12 – John Lehman Wheelrace
P.Szegedi (125m), M.Gregory (145m), S.Farrell (175m), A.Rendoulis (75m), J.McWhinney (140m) – race time 1:19.74
Event 13 – Open D Keirin
A.Brennand, B.Bowden, L.Fleming
Event 14 – Open B Keirin Consolation
H.Takos, P.King, L.Betros
Event 15 – Open B Keirin Final
G.Kanki-Knight, D.Botrill, M.Gregory
Event 16 – Open A/B Keirin
S.Hennessy, K.Franson, K.Parlevliet
Event 17 – Open C/D Points Race - 20 laps
Event 18 – Open B/C Points race - 32 laps
Event 19 – Open A Points race – 60 laps