Indoor Individual Finals - Report
(2003 Web-site Archive)
First up on Saturday was the U-13 championship. This turned out very much to be a three rider affair. First blood went to Leicester's Lucy Whitehead who gated over Astley & Tyldesley's Becky Heslop to win heat 2. Sheffield's Ashley Birks' unbeaten run came to an end when beaten by Heslop in heat 10. The three riders continued their winning ways up to a vital heat 18, when Birks ended Whitehead's unbeaten run. With Heslop gating round from grid 4 to win a tough heat 20, it meant that there would be a three rider run-off for the title, after Whitehead, Birks and Heslop had all finished with 19 points. Becky lined up on grid 1, Ashley on grid 2 and Lucy on grid 3. The two girls gated first with the race stopped after a first bend clash. In the re-run, a terrific start by Whitehead saw her get round a strong challenge from Heslop to lead coming out of the first bend, with Birks cleverly switching inside Heslop to move into second place. The order never changed after that, with Lucy Whitehead racing away to become the first ever female to win a British Individual title at any level, in the 53 years of championship staging. Also for the first time ever, there were two girls on the rostrum. The top three riders were a cut above the rest of the field, in which Bury's newcomer Will Collins did well to finish in 4th place with 16 points.
British Indoor Individual U-13 Final scorers:
Lucy Whitehead (Leicester) 19; Ashley Birks (Sheffield) 19; Becky Heslop (Astley & Tyldesley) 19; Will Collins (Bury) 16; Carl Jarvis (Leicester) 15; Ashley Skeldon (Sandwell) 15; Chris Timms (Birmingham) 14; Ashley Doughty (Leicester) 12; Joshua Brooke (Ipswich) 11; Declan Crouch (Leicester) 10; David Parrish (Bury) 10; Mark Hollingsworth (Bury) 9; Josh Hill (Sandwell) 8; Dougie Urquhart (Scotia) 8.
Referee - Mike Hack (Astley & Tyldesley).
The U-16 Final was totally dominated by Tameside's Chris Eaton, who was a class above the rest of the field, in recording a terrific 20 points maximum. Yards faster than his rivals it didn't matter whether or not he gated first, as he displayed some terrific controlled passing manoeuvres, none better than in passing Birks to win heat 16 and Pike to win heat 19. Second place went to Stoke's Joe Twiss, who has made an impressive transition to U-16 racing this year, having won the U-13 title last year. However, he enjoyed his moment of fortune when passing Andy Mittell to win a vital heat 15, after Mittell was clearly distracted by the about to be lapped Tom Doyle in front of him. Jono Birks of Sheffield pulled off a fine pass to beat Eaton's Daniel Pike in a run-off for third place, after both had finished with 16 points. Earlier, Birks was clearly unhappy when heat 10 wasn't stopped after he came off worst in a first bend clash, having won his two opening races.
British Indoor Individual U-16 Final scorers:
Chris Eaton (Tameside) 20; Joe Twiss (Stoke) 17; Jono Birks (Sheffield) 16; Daniel Pike (Eaton) 16; Chris Davies (Newport) 15; Tom Doyle (Bury) 15; Andy Mittell (Somersham) 14; Lee Ridgwell (East London) 14; Lee Pike (Gt. Blakenham) 13; Mikey Hewitson (Scotia) 10; Jack Hibberd (Sandwell) 10; David Ball (Sandwell) 8; Chris Parrish (Bury) 8; Tom Hibberd (Sandwell) 8; Ashley Simpson (Bury) 7; Richard Bowler (Sheffield) 7.
Referee - John Burston (Bury).
Moving on to Sunday's racing, as expected the U-19 Final proved to be a much more open contest, but the result had a familiar look about it as Eaton's Darren Slater took his 10th British Individual title win, an amazing feat for a 17 year old. He was made to work hard for this one, as he was taken to a run-off for the title by Gt. Blakenham's Adam Peck, after both had scored 18 points. Slater won the toss for grid positions in the run-off, and held off Peck from grid 2 and maintain his lead throughout the race to win, with Peck once again runner-up in a major final. Horspath's Mike Morgans finished one point behind to take the bronze medal, finishing two points ahead of team mate Mark Boaler.
British Indoor Individual U-19 Final scorers:
Darren Slater (Eaton) 18; Adam Peck (Gt. Blakenham) 18; Mike Morgans (Horspath) 17; Mark Boaler (Horspath) 15; Chris Jewkes (Wednesfield) 14; Ben Scranage (Bury) 14; Richard Williamson (Wednesfield) 13; Daniel Pike (Eaton) 13; Scott Jarman (Bury) 12; Chris Eaton (Tameside) 12; Lee Pike (Gt. Blakenham) 9; Andy Mittell (Somersham) 9; Marcus Wadhams (Birmingham) 9; Joe Twiss (Stoke) 8; Simon Munden (Stoke) 6; Lee Ridgwell (East London) 6.
Referee - Mick Pedley (Wednesfield).
Stoke's Frank Finnigan started as strong favourite to win the Veterans title for the fourth year in succession. However, his chances were hit when his new frame was written off in a nasty clash that saw Leicester's Jim Waring excluded for putting Finnigan into the boards during a Senior Semi-Final earlier in the day. Forced therefore to use son Chris' bike, this gave his rivals a glimmer of hope before the start of the match. And that is all it was, for the 'Silver Fox' turned in his usual immaculate performance to race unbeaten and take his fifth Veterans title. Tameside's Brian Eaton was his closest rival, and he led from the start when the two met in heat 7, but Finnigan cut back inside on exiting the first bend to race away and win. Wednesfield's Mick Pedley looked set to take third place for the third year running, before being dumped unceremoniously into the boards by 'team mate' Mick Aris in heat 15. This let in Birmingham's Paul Timms to take the bronze medal.
British Indoor Individual Veterans Final scorers:
Frank Finnigan (Stoke) 20; Brian Eaton (Tameside) 19; Paul Timms (Birmingham) 17; Mick Pedley (Wednesfield) 16; Mick Aris (Wednesfield) 15; Tony Ridgwell (East London) 15; Gary Hollingsworth (Bury) 13; Mike Hack (Astley & Tyldesley) 13; Peter Williamson (Somersham) 13; Peter Mittell (Somersham) 12; Dave Palfreyman (Hawbush) 12; Phil Widdas (Birmingham) 9.
Referee - Lance Bates (Stoke).
The climax of the weekend was the Senior Final. Following two semi-finals, the two shock absentees were Wednesfield's Lee Aris (five top three placings in the previous six finals, including two wins) and Stoke's Frank Finnigan (3rd in the 2000 Final). The match quickly settled down to provide three leading contenders in Stoke's Chris Finnigan, Bury's Ben Scranage and Horspath's defending champion Steve Harris. Scranage trailed in 3rd behind Harris and Daniel Pike in heat 4, before putting together three successive wins to make a strong challenge. After that opening win, Harris was pegged back firstly by Leon Yelland in heat 7 and then by Adam Peck in heat 10. No such problems for Chris Finnigan, who reeled off wins in each of his opening three races. Heat 16 was a vital race, in which Harris lined up off grid 1 against Mike Morgans and Neil Howarth, with Finnigan off gate 4. Morgans made the start, with Harris in hot pursuit and Finnigan passing Howarth to move into 3rd. On the last lap, Harris made his challenge on Morgans, got it wrong and fell off, whilst Finnigan took full advantage of the confusion to swoop inside for a vital win to keep up his unbeaten run. Harris bounced back to win heat 17 and secure himself a rostrum place, with a total of 15 points. All eyes were on the next race, as this was to prove to be the title decider. Darren Slater lined up on grid 1, Finnigan (16 points) off 2, Scranage (14 points) off 3 and Yelland off 4. Slater raced away from the start, but Finnigan's chances looked to have ended when he fell on the first bend. However, Scranage fell on the next lap, and although he re-mounted before Finnigan could catch him, the advantage was back with the Stoke man. Then Yelland fell on the 3rd lap, leaving a bemused race winner Slater as the only non faller in this heat, but the third place was sufficient for Chris Finnigan to claim his first ever British title, finishing one point ahead of Ben Scranage, who at one stage looked set to force a run-off for 1st place. Finnigan was a worthy winner of the Final, and this victory completed a unique family double with father and son taking the Senior and Veterans titles on the same day. Both Scranage and Harris put in some fast racing and terrific passes, and both will rue costly falls that ended their hopes.
British Indoor Individual Final scorers:
Chris Finnigan (Stoke) 18; Ben Scranage (Bury) 17; Steve Harris (Horspath) 15; Mark Boaler (Horspath) 14; Neil Howarth (Bury) 13; Craig Marchant (Leicester) 12; Darren Slater (Eaton) 12; Mike Morgans (Horspath) 12; Stephen Davies-Ward (Tameside) 12; Daniel Pike (Eaton) 12; Mark Rushby (Bury) 11; David Martin (Eaton) 9; Barry Copping (Somersham) 9; Mark Whitehead (Leicester) 8; Adam Peck (Gt. Blakenham) 8; Leon Yelland (Wednesfield) 7; Lee Aris (Wednesfield) reserve 0.