My first race at Rockingham speedway this year was a 2/3 scratch. The circuit was short, and took in the biggest of the infield’s little bumps, just before the start/finish line. To get to the lump there was a stretch of block headwind and before that a fast sweeping bend, then you were pretty much back to the start, at the top of the little bump.
Racing were Dave H, Ed, Simon R, Wayne and me; Tom and Adrian were over in the 4th cats.
From the start Ed was off the front, first following a wheel and then going solo. The rest of us either just sat in or sandbagged at the front while Ed’s gap grew. We let the other riders do the work and watched for any moves.
20 minutes in and there was a crash. 4 or 5 riders went down and the bunch threatened to split. It came back but a small group of 5 was pulling away, Simon among them. Dave, Wayne and I moved to the front, lined-up in a row, slowed down and controlled the bunch with an easy pace. I was starting to enjoy this race. We couldn’t get away with our rolling blockade for long, it lasted for little more than a lap, but it gave Simon’s group and Ed some breathing space.
Simon’s group eventually split with two lads managing to bridge to Ed and the rest, Simon included, being swallowed back into the group. I spent the rest of the race near the front, but not helping at the front; we were actually racing a bit like a team and had no interest in jeopardising Ed’s advantage. The one long pull I did do was a pedestrian spell while Ed’s group to lapped us.
Ed finished 3rd. In the sprint for the minor placings I found myself leading into the block headwind. It wasn’t a good place to be and I was swamped in the charge for the line. Simon placed best for 10th. Over in the 4th cats, Tom came 4th and earned his 3rd cat promotion.
I enjoyed the race and, rarely for these days, felt in control rather than being put under pressure by it; I was mostly near the front, but I wasn’t riding aggressively – with Ed up the road we were trying to ride like a team and help his lead. It’s reassuring for the next Rocko trip, but this relatively easy 2/3 circuit race has given me no false sense of confidence ahead of Sunday’s E/1/2/3. My inside information is the big boys, young lads really, will smash it for the first couple of laps then it will settle down. So, only 20 furiously fast miles and the first two ascents of the Devil’s staircase climb to survive before I can sit like a grape in the bunch….yet…I have a nagging doubt that a 19 year old 1st cats’ notion of “settle down” isn’t the same as mine.