Over 500 people watched the drama unfold at the British Individual championships on Monday in a thrilling match that saw an emotional Andy Angell clinch the champions jersey on the last bend of the final heat.
A classic match was in the making with 10 riders all in with a genuine shout of the treasured hooped top but it would be the crowds' favourite that claimed the title at a sunny Eaton Park in Norwich. Four times winner of the coveted title Lee Aris came in runner up after a brilliant display of cycle speedway riding and looked on track to take a fifth until the closing heats and Phil Howells took the final step of the podium again with a classy display of riding and after five years away from the championships proved what a superb bike handler the Leicester rider is.
Angell's afternoon started with an easy win on his first outing storming from the gate to lead the field to the flag and the relief on the Hull rider's face was palpable. Paul Heard's afternoon got off to a bad start with an exclusion in the following heat for moving at the tapes and in fact retired from the match after a fall in a later heat.
The 2010 champion Mark Boaler started his campaign well with his first win of the afternoon in heat 4 holding off Chris Timms into second spot. Angell's second win of the day came in heat five, with Chris Jewkes sent back to the pits for moving at the tapes and Ben Mould crashing on the second lap, the Hull rider rode well to keep Adam Peck at bay and even at this stage of the match, Angell was looking the early favourite but Boaler was not to be out done taking his second win in the following heat to keep his title hopes alive and it would be Angell and Boaler who led the leader board after two rides each.
Chris Timms was doing his title hopes no harm at all, with a fine win in heat 9 from Peck, the Birmingham rider looking in his sharpest form will surely be a serious title contender in years to come. By the midway point and another easy looking win Angell looked well on the way to claim the title, untouchable from the gate and with great acceleration out of the bends the day was coming together very nicely and the crowd knew it. Boaler's title hopes were dashed in heat eleven with third place and it would prove to be the undoing of the Horspath rider for the remainder of the day.
Never a rider to be written off in any competition Lee Aris stormed to his second victory in heat 14, totally ripping the race apart to take a fine win from Lewis Osbourne. The turning point of the day was in heat 15, could Angell take a fourth win and virtually seal the title or, as in cycle speedway things do go array and it would be the latter for the match leader.
Chris Timms took a magnificent victory from Tom Reed after the lead changed on numerous times, the two leaving Angell in their wake to ride in third spot, Delia must have heard the roar of the crowd! With four races remaining the score sheet was turned upside down, with Timms' win in heat 14 and Ben Mould taking a fine win in the following heat it was Angell. Mould and Timms equal top spot with 14 points and Aris,Boaler and Howells one point adrift.
Old adversaries Aris and Steve Harris clashed in heat 17 giving a great display of speedway riding much to the liking of the now very noisy crowd. With Aris taking the victory from Harris in his final outing of the day all the Wednesfield rider could do was sit and wait. A classic final was now in the making and the following heat saw both Timms and Mould unable to capitalise on the heat coming in third and fourth respectively. Phil Howells took a very useful second spot behind Lewis Osbourne to end his day on 16 points, equal with Timms. To take a National title takes courage and would be down to the final heat of the day that would ask that of Andy Angell, second spot was not going to win the jersey, only a heat win would be good enough. With Mark Boaler on 13 points a win would put him in a run off with Aris for the title and a win for Angell would see the title going north.
It was Chris Osbourne who fled off the gate leaving Angell and Boaler to chase down, It would be Angell who had to hold his nerve if he wanted victory and seeing a gap on the final bend of the race the Hull rider dived in only to hit the shale, a look of total despair on the rider's face. Boaler rode round the stricken Angell to roll over the line arms aloft, but referee Ralph Doughty was to walk over to the announcer's box and for a few minutes the track fell silent, all eyes on the referee and the announcer and Angell standing on the track looking distraught then came the referee's decision Osbourne was excluded for legging and the race was awarded to Andy Angell and the British title.
But the day had one more heat to run to decide the bronze. Howells,Timms and Boaler had all finished on sixteen points and it would be down to a tie breaker. In the first run off Boaler was excluded which left Howells and Timms to sort things out head to head but Howells held his nerve and proved too strong for Timms and rode home alone to take the final medal.
Andy Angell said: "I'm so happy with that and surprised.I didn't get a good draw with two three's and the first one was the important one to win. Crowd favourite? I try to please.
The final heat, well what can you say. I knew if I got second I'd be in the run-off but coming into the last bend Chris(Osbourne) looked to slow up so I thought I've got to have a go and it paid off in the end. It's been a very hard six weeks to get ready for this with the training but I am so happy now.
Lee Aris comeented: "Almost, I rode really hard today, infact I don't think I've ridden that hard ever in a match and come second. I thought I'd get a least a run off but its five rides and congratulations to Andy with the win.
"He's ridden well over the last two years and deserved it today. I thought the match would have been won on sixteen points so with seventeen I thought I could have won. The track has ridden superbly today, there's a lot of hard work gone into the day, anyone of four riders in any race could have won on that track."
Third-placed Phil Howells: "I'm happy with third but I did come to win, I wasn't happy with my second race, I could have gone for another place but I didn't so I suppose yeah I am happy with third. I haven't raced in this competition for about five years,a ll the riders here today are top class, anyone of us could have won here, it was that close. I think it was the most open final there has been for a while and congratulations to Andy, he's a very worthy winner. I'm really pleased for him."
British Under 16 Individual Championships
Aaron Morgan rose to the big occasion to take the British Under 16 individual title at Eaton park in Norwich on Monday.
The Poole rider held off fierce competition from team mate Matt Mildon and Ipswich's Ash Hill to claim the title in his last year in that age group. The opening heat saw four of the big hitters looking for that important first blood, Jack Harrold was the first victim of the day falling on the first lap leaving Morgan and Hill to take first and second place respectively. Nerves got the better of Lewis Roberts in the following heat with an exclusion for moving at the gates and in the re-run Poole's Aaron Smith made no mistakes to take the win from Horspath's Zac Payne.
It looked like it would be Poole riders who would dominate the day and Matt Mildon made sure of his title contention with two back to back wins in heats 4 and 5. After a fine win in heat 3 Sandwell's Rikki Johnson's day was all but over in heat six with an exclusion for using excessive force on Oliver Riley, Morgan rode to a straight forward win in the same heat to keep his title hope alive.
Not to be outdone by his team mates Aaron Smith took heat 7 holding off Harrold into second place. A classy win in heat eight from Ash Hill saw the Ipswich rider ride from the back of the race and storm his way through to take the win from Zac Payne. With two races run it was the three Poole riders sitting on top of the leader board with eight points apiece. Jack Harrold got back to winning ways on heat 11 taking an easy win from Oliver Sidwick and re-firing his title hopes.
Heat 14 would be the turning point of the match, Zac Payne and three Poole riders and an expected win for either Mildon or Morgan it would be Payne who kept his cool through the blue shirts of Poole to take a glorious victory with Mildon beating Morgan to claim second. Ash Hill held off Oliver Sidwick in heat sixteen to take an important win which put the Ipswich rider on equal fifteen points with Aaron Smith and the match lead going into the final four heats.
It would be down to Aaron Morgan to pull something out of the bag and anything less than a win wouldn't be good enough and a win he got in heat 18 to give the young rider 18 points and the long wait for results from Aaron Smith and Ash Hill but neither rider could capitalize on their advantage and with Smith only managing one point in his final heat and Ash Hill only two points it would be Aaron Morgan who pulled on the hooped jersey.
With three riders finishing on 16 points the run-off would be a cracking affair, Aaron Smith was left behind while Harrold and Mildon would fight it out to the last lap only for Mildon to make the move on the last bend to claim the bronze medal.
Aaron Morgan: "I feel so lucky with that victory, I thought Ash (Hill) would take the title to be honest. The big heat was in heat fourteen with three of us Poole boys against Zac Payne. We aren't friends on the track. I rode the senior qualifying yesterday and was only three points off getting through and its all down to training to get here."
Andy Angell (Hull) 18, Lee Aris (Wednesefield) 17, Phil Howells (Leicester) 16, Chris Timms (Birmingham) 16, Mark Boaler (Horspath) 16, Lewis Osborne (Horspath) 15, Ben Mould (East Newport) 15, Tom Reed (Poole) 13, Neil Hollebon (Hellingly) 12, Adam Peck (Leicester) 11, Steve Harris (Horspath) 11, Adam Stephenson ( Hull) 7, Chris Jewkes (Wednesfield) 7, Paul Heard (Birmingham - retired injured) 6, Chris Osborne (Horspath) 5, Matt Beharrell (Hull) 3, Lee Grange (Norwich - reserve) 3.
Arron Morgan (Poole) 18, Ashley Hill (Ipswich) 17, Matt Mildon (Poole) 16, Jack Harold (Newport) 16, Aaron Smith (Poole) 16, Oliver Sidwick (Newport) 15, Zac Payne (Horspath) 14, Rikki Johnson (Sandwell) 12, Aiden Owen (Sheffield) 11, Richard Fellgett (Ipswich) 11,WilBristowe (Poole) 10, Adam Phillips (Astley & Tyldesley) 10, Lewis Roberts (Ipswich) 8, Jake Read (Stockport) 8, Oliver Riley (Norwich) 8, Lee Clarke (Horspath) 7.
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.