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Somerset Open Championship

David Thompson  Saturday, July 07, 2001  15:41 GMT

David Thompson responded to my request for any independent reports on any Conference League matches attended. So, if any other budding reporters wish to submit a report on a match they attend, please get in touch.  In the meantime, here's David's excellent offering...
Somerset Open Championship
Friday 6th June 2001
Tonight's meeting got away to a late start, due to a serious accident on the M5 near Bristol, this delayed the arrival of several of the riders, and a good number of fans. Eventually all the participating riders arrived , with the exception of the following seeded riders, Adam Allott, the Defending Champion, David Mason, and Andrew Moore. All these, I believe, due to injury. The first two were replaced by "Wild Cards", the latter by Martin Williams. The early heats also lost a rider, Chris Collins, who was replaced by Ray Dickson.
The meeting eventually got under way about 30 minutes behind schedule, but not before problems with the starting gate delayed proceedings for several more minutes. The referee ruled that the races should be started under the "Green Light" until the gate could be fixed. Heats 1-8 were run as "Green lights" The gate was fixed for heats 9-14, it was then back to "Green Lights" for the remainder of the meeting following a further break down.
None of this could detract from a great night of action with outstanding performances from several riders, including Steve Bishop riding for the first time, after a long bout of back problems, and using borrowed equipment & bike. Krister Marsh, the new signing for the Exeter Falcons who produced the two fastest times of the night. Ritchie Hawkins of Swindon, and last but not least the eventual winner James Mann of Workington & Buxton. The Somerset promotion should also be congratulated for putting together such a great evenings entertainment, and battling against the odds to bring the meeting to a superb conclusion. They tried to ensure all heats had 4 riders with the judicious use of "Wild Cards" & replacements.
The format for the meeting followed the "Grand Prix" system of 24 Heats with riders being eliminated for two rides outside the first two finishing positions.
Referee: Robbie Perks
Heat 1 60.15s
1st,Rob Finlow (to Heat 7) 2nd Gordon Meakins (to H8) 3rd Tim Healey (to H5) 4th Ray Dickson (toH6)
Finlow by a mile, but fell wheelying over finish line, wrecked bike and had to withdraw for meeting(replaced in H7 by Tim Healey)
Heat 2 59.56s
1st Jamie Holmes (toH8) 2nd Ritchie Hawkins (toH7) 3rd Rob Hollingworth (toH6) 4th Nick Simmonds (toH5)
A tight first bend tussle saw Holmes take the lead, and stay there. Simmonds broke down on Lap 2.
Heat 3 59.43s
1st Lee Hodgson (toH7) 2nd Matthew Cross (toH8) 3rd Neil Painter (toH5) 4th Simon Phillips, Excl 2Mins (toH6)
Hodgson led from the start, with Cross riding round the outside of painter to snatch 2nd on the last lap.
Heat 4 59.75s
1st Glen Phillips (toH8) 2nd Jason Prynne (toH7) 3rd Shane Colvin (toH6) 4th Malcolm Holloway (toH5)
Holloway gifted this heat to his opponents when he flipped over backwards on the start, Ex Rebel Phillips winning easily from a close fought battle between Prynne & Colvin.
Heat 5 59.25s
1st Simmonds (toH9) 2nd Holloway (toH10) 3rd Painter (Elmntd, given W/C to H11) 4th Healey (Elmntd, replaced Finlow in H 7)
Heat 6 60.44s
1st Hollingworth (toH10) 2nd Colvin (toH 9) 3rd Dickson (Elmntd) 4th S.Phillips (Elmntd, given W/C toH13)
Colvin led all the way, otherwise uneventful except for the sight of Phillips throwing his bike to the floor, in disgust, after breaking down on lap 1, seemingly eliminated.
Heat 7 60.41s
1st Hawkins (toH11) 2nd Prynne (toH13) 3rd Hodgson (toH9) 4th Healy (toH10)
Prynne led for 3 1/2 laps with Hodgson trying to hold off Hawkins, who then rode around both of the to take the heat. Stunning!!!.
Heat 8 59.94s
1st Holmes (toH12) 2nd G.Phillips (toH14) 3rd Meakins (toH10) 4th Cross (toH19)
Holmes in great form to take his second win of the night, from Phillips. Meakins just wasn't fast enough for these, tailed off. Cross engine failure on 1st bend.
Heat 9 59.93s
1st Simmonds (toH14) 2nd Hodgson (toH12) 3rd Hollingworth (Elmntd) 4th Cross, Excl 2mins (Elmntd)
Back to Tape starts for a while, Simmond led all the way, rest followed in finishing order. Cross 2 minute exclusion probably due to failure in previous heat.
Heat 10 60.19s
1st Holloway (toH13) 2nd Colvin (toH11) 3rd Meakins (Elmntd) 4th Healey (Elmntd)
Holloway showed his class, won pulling away, Meakins & Healey tailed off.
Heat 11 59.37s
1st Steve Bishop (toH17) 2nd Hawkins (toH18) 3rd Colvin (toH15) 4th Painter w/c (toH16)
Superb return to the track by "Bish", who hasn't race for a couple of month due to a back injury. He held off a spirited challenge from the flying Hawkins.
Heat 12 60.86s
1st Hodgson (toH18) 2nd James Mann (toH17) 3rd Holmes (toH16) 4th Gary Phelps (toH15)
Hodgson always led, a close battle behind for two laps before Mann got the better of Holmes. Phelps nowhere.
Heat 13 Awarded-no time
1st Holloway (toH17) 2nd S.Phillips w/c (toH18) 3rd Prynne (toH15) 4th Martin Williams, Excld fell (toH16)
Two great battles going on Holloway & Phillips swapping places for three laps, until Williams, battling with Prynne, Took a nasty looking fall on the third bend, hitting the kick board hard feet first.Williams was taken to hospital & took no further part. No news as yet regarding his injuries.
Heat 14 59.01s (Fastest time of the Night)
1st Krister Marsh (toH18) 2nd G.Phillips (toH17) 3rd Jamie Smith (toH16) 4th Simmonds (toH15)
New Exeter signing Marsh blasted from the gate, and was never headed, followed by Phillips. Smith was squeezed out on 1st bend and then struggled. Simmonds not sighted.
Heat 15 60.55s
1st Phelps (toH19) 2nd Simmonds (toH20) 3rd Colvin ( toH16)  4th Prynne, Excl jump start (Elmntd)
Back to "Green Light" starts, for the remainder of the meeting, after Tapes failed again. Prynne unluckily excluded for jumping the "Green Light", by about 3 secs!!. Colvin should have been eliminated but was put into Heat 16 in place of the injured Martin Williams.
Heat 16 60.57s
1st Smith (toH20) 2nd Holmes (toH19) 3rd Colvin (Elmntd) 4th Painter (Elmntd)
Smith back on form with a quick start followed closely by Holmes. Painter lost engine on 1st bend.
Heat 17 Awarded-no time.
1st Bishop (toH21) 2nd G.Phillips (toH22) 3rd Mann (toH19) 4th Holloway Excl-fell (toH20)
Great scrap between "Bish" & his former team mate Phillips, until Holloway Fell awkwardly Lap 3, took no further part.
Heat 18 59.21s
1st Marsh (toH22) 2nd S.Phillips (toH21) 3rd Hawkins (toH20) 4th Hodgson (toH19)
The "Flying Falcon" was at it again, with the second fastest time of the night. Phillips battled away taking 2nd place from Hawkins on Lap3.
Heat 19 60.85s
1st Mann (toH21) 2nd Phelps (toH22) 3rd Holmes (Elmntd) 4th Hodgson (Elmntd)
Superb ride from Mann, a slow start left him struggling in third place behind Holmes & Phelps. He then picked up some drive to pass them both on lap3. Phelps just got the better of Holmes on the last lap. Hodgson falling on the 3rd bend, last lap.
Heat 20 60.41s
1st Simmonds (toH22) 2nd Hawkins (toH21) 3rd Smith (Elmntd) 4th Holloway, withdrew (Elmntd)
Simmonds got the better of a first lap battle with Smith, who pressurised him all the way. Hawkins was being left behind, but was gifted the qualifying place when Smith fell on the last bend needlessly pressing Simmonds.
Heat 21, 1st Semi-final, 59.68s
1st S.Phillips (toH24) 2nd Mann (toH24) 3rd Bishop (toH23) 4th Hawkins (toH23)
Phillips led from 1st turn. Bishop missed the gate, and was squeezed out on the 1st bend. Mann took second place, but under pressure all the was from "Bish".
Heat 22, 2nd Semi-final, 59.94s
1st Marsh (toH24) 2nd G.Phillips (toH24) 3rd Phelps (toH23) 4th Simmonds (toH23)
Marsh on fire again, the only unbeaten rider on the night, getting the better of a tight first bend tussle led all the way. Phillips kept up the pressure to the line.
Heat 23 "B" Final - (Abandoned)
Due to the late running of the meeting, and local curfews the Consolation final was abandoned to allow the running of the "A" Final.
Heat 24 "A" Final, 59.60s
1st James Mann. 2nd Krister Marsh. 3rd Simon Phillips.  4th Glen Phillips.
Mann made the gate, Simon Phillips into second place, with Marsh, making his worst start of the night, challenging hard, until squeezed for room on the back straight, and Glen Phillips bringing up the rear. Marsh dropped back before charging passed Phillips with a lap & a half to go. He then set about catching Mann who was long gone by now. In a flying last lap he just failed by a bike length to make it. Despite the earlier problems, a fitting end to a great evening of speedway.
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