Location: Manor Abbey Sports Ground, Halesowen, West Midlands
Event: 10 May 2013
Report: William Fotheringham
The Halesowen microclimate is a constant topic of conversation among Friday Night Track League regulars, but for the first night of racing of 2013 it was on the side of the racers, with a full programme of events carried out amid lowering skies and spits and spots of rain but never near enough to threaten proceedings.
The Freewheelers, benefiting this year from sponsorship from the Islabikes company of Ludlow, boasted a field of 25 with the opening Devil the most hotly contested.
Victory in that category went to Ryan Brookes at the head of four others from the promoting club, while the Hare and Hounds went to Luke Blundell and the closing two-lap handicap was won by Alex Barker from Jake Nash of Redditch.
The opening youth race of the night, a six-lap scratch saw a race-long break from Jamieson Blain and Ben Healy, both of Halesowen, with Healy pulling clear at the bell, while Healy added victory in the Devil to take an early lead in the overall standings in spite of missing out in the Kilo scratch won by Cameron MacLeod.
The five leading Youth and Freewheelers of the night were presented with copies of Bradley Wiggins’s autobiography, My Story, kindly donated by Yellow Jersey Press.
At the other end of the age spectrum the veterans league returns this year, and an early advantage was taken by Lee Gardner of V-Sprint, who took a narrow victory by half a wheel from Peter Hodgetts and Nigel Albutt of the promoting club.
A total of 22 B Category riders lined up for four events which produced a clean-sweep of victories for Andrew Butler of Stratford CC, which looked inevitable given the strength with which he won their opening 10-lap scratch, riding the field off his wheel at the bell.
The pick of his four wins came in his heat of the Kilo scratch where he was led out to fine effect by his team mate Tom Lane. The other heat in the Kilo went to Halesowen’s Brad Simkin, who was the pick of Butler’s opponents on the night.
Butler looks amply qualified to join the A category, where junior Callum Ferguson of the promoting club looked the strongest.
Ferguson missed out on the opening 10-lap scratch, dominated by break of four including eventual winner Charles Walker, and in the Devil he finished a close second to Jack Mills after leading out for the final lap. Ferguson dominated the closing, combined A and B 25-lap scratch, leading away a group of four at half-distance with Mills and Butler, plus another B category, Oliver Dighton.
The quartet lapped the field, with Ferguson outsprinting Mills and Butler eluding Dighton, and with Walker and Patrick Fotheringham chasing for 12 laps to take third and fourth in the As.
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.