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Hanna Phipps-Jones 21 - report

27 May 2024 21:01 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Round 4 of the SB Sports Injuries would undoubtedly have been cancelled had conditions turned just 25 minutes earlier as riders and officials endured some of the worst racing conditions in living memory in the Wrekinsport CC Hanna Phipps-Jones 21. Starting in sunshine and held over two laps of The Tiddly triangle, event winner and first off Dean Callister crossed the finish line for the first time on exactly 21 minutes – precisely when the deluge commenced. With all riders out on the course the sky turned black, the rain bounced off the road for the rest of the event – and the added and totally unexpected hazard of tractors repeatedly using the lane with over 30 trips in both directions in the near dark, as well as a steady stream of motorbikes, which made for a challenging evening everyone was pleased to see the back of.

Callister took the first points away from reigning champion and 2024 Series leader Tomos Hales in his first appearance in the Series with a course record breaking effort of 43 minutes 49 seconds, undoubtedly helped by the heavy rain, one of two types of condition conducive to personal bests and fast times generally thanks to relatively easy passage through the air and plentiful oxygen. The Aerologic rider was delighted when a trawl back through several years of records confirmed he had sliced a huge 29 seconds off the previous benchmark, stating: “My first course record - very pleased with that, and in not great conditions on second lap. I was hoping for no rain, but it really started coming down the last lap. I couldn’t see much due to rain. There was a big headwind up to Peplow which was tough, but managed to pace it well - thanks to Wrekinsport for hosting the event”.

Hales took the runner-up spot in 45:24, pushing out Callister’s Aerologic team mate Mark Pritchard by 1:40 in 45:24, extending his Series lead to 12 points over Jonathan Mills-Keeling. Starting nine minutes after Callister, Hales got caught up in the hullabaloo of traffic on a normally quiet lane and graphically described conditions: “The first two side of the Tiddly circuit went well before the rain start to fall and it became very dark. It was a tough section up the A442 into the headwind and I had to battle the farming traffic. So much appreciation to the marshals that had to endure in those conditions! Thanks for Wrekinsport for hosting, and well done to Dean for the win”.

Mills-Keeling finished a strong fourth overall and took the Veterans win for his fourth straight SB round in a row in +9:02, 25 seconds ahead of Chris Riley, making his first appearance of 2024 in the Series. Mills-Keeling opened up a dominant lead of 38 points at the head of the SB Veterans Series thanks to this effort, and thankfully the traffic hold-up didn’t affect his winning position: “Fun after I finished, halfway around the first lap started to rain and got progressively worse. I was held up in traffic, and was pleased to see the finish - a great ride by Dean for the Course Record”.

With only one female in competition Hayley Wells was guaranteed another maximum 20 points for finishing, also making it a straight 4/4 wins. Terribly baulked as she simply rolled through at the end of the first lap unable to pass tractors that had held her up considerably, it was more about getting around on the evening, which she did in 52:19 – a time significantly traffic-affected. She explained: “A race of two parts! Starting off in dry conditions and ending in a downpour with plenty of standing water added to the challenge, not to mention the train of tractors, cars and motorbikes causing a hold up for almost four kilometres along the back stretch of the first lap. Sadly traffic wasn’t on my side on this occasion, but I was just happy to get around considering the abysmal weather conditions - many thanks to Wrekinsport for sitting out in the pouring rain”!

Junior winner Ben Southgate was one place and eight seconds back from Wells in 52:27, and his brief comment summed up the evening: “Some of the worst conditions ever, but glad to have finished it”!

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