Westernapolis Exeter 2013

Taken from spokesman-online


Exeter Aces celebrated 50 years of cycle speedway in Exeter at the weekend, staging their first ever Westernapolis event at Cofton Road. The event attracted many of the sport’s top individuals including World Champion Lukasz Nowacki, who won the event, taking away over £200 in prize money.

After a series of pre-qualifying races, the field was whittled down to 16 riders for the Grand Final.  The adrenaline kicked in, right from the off, in heat one with Ashley Hill making a pass on home favourite Tom Reed during the first lap, but with the support of his home Devon crowd, Hill’s lead lasted just half a lap with the Aces star currently in great form.

Sparks flew in heat two when Poole’s Arek Szymanski was a victim of a Gavin Wheeler clamp from grid two, and then having found his pedals again was left to ride three very wide laps on Leon Mower’s outside shoulder. A small coming together after the race had finished could have escalated into more during the heat of the moment but both riders returned to the pits and sportingly looked to their next race.

The excitement and drama continued to unfold in the early stages of the meeting with heat three providing more quality racing. Lukasz Nowacki just about managed to pip Arron Morgan to the first bend, only to be joined by the ultra fast accelerating Greg Gluchowski on his outside. With the Poles throwing themselves into the first bend with such speed, underdog Jamie Chittock was able to perform a smooth cutback before holding his inside line as the World Champion tried to clamp him down on the entry into three.

Again, another huge space was left to be filled, with Morgan steaming up the inside into lap two. If that wasn’t enough for the crowd’s eyes to take in within the space of 10 seconds, then cue Nowacki who lined up a breath-taking cut back on the young pair to storm to victory and collect another heat winning £10. Gluchowski also kept Poland in the spotlight, quickly finding a way to get himself into the three point position.

Heat four was another interesting race with Chris Timms, who left it late in the pre-qualifier. After gating around Mark Carmichael and Aaron Herbert he was stuck on former World champion Steve Harris’s shoulder. Herbert successfully filled the gap to push himself into second which left Timms with a tricky decision to make.

With Carmichael unusually in last place Timms was well aware of the threat from behind. After sitting in behind Herbert for three and a half laps, he went for the dive into the final bend. The Brummie however could only manage to clip Herbert’s back wheel – and through came Carmichael for the three points!

Reed added a tenner to the kitty in the fifth race of the day whilst Jamie Chittock took an early chance to pass Szymanski.  However the Pole banked it well, leaving Chittock nowhere to go but through the air! Luckily for him though he managed to land on his feet.

Steve Harris joined Reed in the ‘two race two win’ club in heat six, whilst Hill battled from the back to pass Mark Winwood into third.

Gluchowski made good use of his grid one to take a start to finish win, with Carmichael seeing out the challenge from Wheeler in the first lap. The Elite Hammer then went on to chase Greg but didn’t quite have that finishing touch to take four points.

Another fantastic race unfolded in heat eight, which saw Nowacki drop his only point of the day. After another fast Timms gate he found himself stuck on the outside down the back straight. Chris also couldn’t have gone much closer to the outside and with the bikes tangling, Leon Mower and Craig Nethercott came through to take the first two spots.

Nowacki quickly found a way past Nethercott but the Exeter Ace immediately lined up a smart cutback and again the world champion was under threat which is a rare sight! Shoulder to shoulder going into bend three, Lukasz had the power to blast around the outside and after Timms got involved, Nowacki decided to play safe and settle for second behind Mower.

Thomas Reed was unfortunate to draw the number one spot, meaning the first of his two grid fours came in heat nine. With two fast gating riders on his inside, Gluchowski and Timms, this was always going to be a tough task. The first run of the race saw Reed try a cutback but with himself, Timms and Winwood falling, the race was rerun with all four.

The Devon Express attempted exactly the same move again, clattering into Timm’s but with all riders staying on, referee Dave Dart allowed the race to continue. Gluchowski used the opportunity to speed away but Reed was on his back wheel in no time! With a well-timed dive into bend three, lap three, the home fans cheered with joy as Reed’s total hit 12 out of 12.

Nowacki continued to pile pressure on the front runners with a healthy win just before the interval whilst Hill made life very difficult for Carmichael at the back. After being taught by one of his match day rivals and previous Hammer team mate Steve Harris, he was able to pull out a move on Ashley.

After the half time interval, another maximum was taken away as Chittock powered from gate one to lead Harris for four laps. Steve thought about making a pass on the entry to lap two but knowing he was on the inside of Nowacki and Reed in his next ride, decided that three points may not be so bad.

Mower however was racing for every point and caught Nicky Evans out on the final bend to add a little more to his earnings for the day, with each rider being rewarded £1 per point.

Heat 12 provided more entertainment for the supporters. Wheeler held his gate off one, with Morgan from three powering around the outside. Nethercott stormed up Wheeler’s inside which sent them both slightly off line. From nowhere, Herbert found the room to cruise pass Morgan up the inside and then split to two in front to leave Wheeler, Nethercott and Morgan wondering how that happened!

Morgan got himself back into the race, passing second and third but Wheeler wasn’t finished yet. With one lap to go, a tidy cutback pushed Morgan out wide, only for Nethercott to read the situation wisely and storm into second, passing both riders. An Exeter one-two sent the crowd wild and left the two Elite league stars wondering what went wrong.

Tension was already high throughout the Westernapolis final but next came the biggest race of the day so far. Wheeler taking two on the trot from grid one, Harris hoping for a sensible ride from two. Reed wanting to impress his home supporters from grid three, and looking for the right doors to open up from gate four, Nowacki.

As the tapes rose, Wheeler made an expected solid start with Harris holding Reed and Nowacki on his shoulder. Coming down the back straight, Reed, in third, tried a hopeful but questionable switch on Harris. However with Harris securing the inside line, there was no room at the inn for Reed! This allowed Nowacki to come through into third and chase Harris.

The former world champion rode a good line to keep the current champion on his line but another amazing cut back from Nowacki’s back pocket sounded a quick squeak of rubbing tyres before the Pole accelerated out of the second bend with more than enough speed to pass Harris. Wheeler, having had fitter seasons, felt the effects of his two on the trot and with Lukasz charging for the four points, he was overtaken with millimetres to spare. Nowacki knew he’d done enough for the top prize and showed his emotion as he passed Gavin to take the chequered flag.

The only rider left who had a chance of keeping the challenge alive was Gluchowski, who made a faultless start from two in heat 14 to cruise to victory. Meanwhile the race was on between the Ipswich pairing of Mower and Hill, joined by Herbert. Mower took Herbert wide into the first bend after a powerful elbow which allowed Hill to find himself in second. Herbert then split the pair only for Mower to showcase a very fast dive on the Ace who had then run out of ideas.

Nicky Evans was one of a few people to stop Timms from gating around them during the event, with the Brummie on two and Evans on one. Chris was almost around but Evans used his elbows well to give Timms a shove out to the fence. Morgan then mounted a challenge on Evans exiting bend four, lap one but couldn’t quite keep tight enough and clipped Nicky’s back wheel, putting him out of the running for first.

This allowed Timms to get himself back into second but it wasn’t long until Szymanski, who finished third in the senior Polish championship at the age of just 17, threw in a healthy dive on the fast gater to send him out wide once again. Shortly after that, Arek seemed to have a bike malfunction just as Timms was lining up a much wanted overtake. He then tried a last gasp pass on Morgan who closed the door just enough to take the three points.

Heat 16 gave Carmichael his first win of the day with a Saturday stroll from grid one. Chittock managed a decent gate around from four to take second whilst the battle went on at the back between Winwood and Nethercott. Eventually Winwood had the upper hand after four laps.

With back to back grid ones, this was Carmichael’s chance to get a place on the podium and earn some extra money for those all important top four places.  However with Reed and Morgan on his outside, he needed full commitment and concentration. Mark did indeed start the race as he hoped to go on, coming out of the second bend in front.

With Reed caught on the Welshman’s outside, Morgan took full advantage and raced into the three point spot. Thomas, knowing every line of the Exeter track like the back of his hand, resumed second place and continued to chase for first (pictured above).

Unfortunately after some fast and furious racing, the track had a few loose patches on it as would any track, which caught Reed out. However, after a couple slips he gained momentum and was back up with Carmichael for the final bend to give it one last go. Being perhaps one foot too far behind, he couldn’t quite get the elbow contact needed and slid to the ground for Morgan to come around and finish second.

Hill added a tenner to his already £19 from previous races, also taking advantage of grid one as Timms chased him down for four laps. From the start line things were tight. Wheeler used his body to start a domino effect which then led on to Timms hitting Chittock, who had a one way ticket across the centre green! However later on in the race, Wheeler was on the receiving end of the rut which caught out Reed a couple times in the previous race and after a tiring day, decided to return to the pits early.

After a five race breather, Nowacki had undergone the perfect preparation for his final ride of the day. Knowing a win would guarantee him the Westernapolis crown, he flew around Herbert and Winwood and never looked back. All the battling went on for second spot though with Evans lining himself up for a smooth cutback on Winwood.

A big strong elbow from Evans gave himself a decent chance upon entering bend one, lap two leaving Winwood heading for the outskirts. Herbert however read the situation well and crept through into the three point spot only to slip a pedal on the next bend and lose out to both riders. Nowacki crossed the finish line, having only dropped a single point all day, to be crowned champion.

However, not all podium places were decided yet, with Gluchowski and Harris still having to meet each other in heat 20, both aiming for the silver position and an extra £80. Greg from two, powered around Nethercott and after a very brief challenge from Harris up the inside, managed to secure the heat win. Harris settled for second in the end with Szymanski in third.

After 20 fast and furious heats, the scores for the bronze position and the £50 prize money was tied between Harris and Carmichael. Mark won the toss for grids and took two, successfully keeping Steve on his shoulder for the full race. Harris liked to point out the fact Mark had learnt those skills from him and that maybe he shouldn’t have taught him so well!

Lukasz Nowacki was a worthy winner on the day by far and truly deserved his final winnings of over £200. Nowacki commented on his day saying it was a great day, with a fantastic track, awesome atmosphere and great people. He also went as far to say it was the meeting of the year so far. He thanked Exeter CSC for a lovely show.

Poles apart! Lukasz Nowacki and Greg Gluchowski dominated the Westernapolis.

Could we see Lukasz back next year for another Westernapolis if the fixture is made permanent on an annual basis? That’s something the Aces will be considering with much thought in the coming months.

Westernapolis 2013 at Exeter

Lukasz Nowacki (Horspath) 19, Greg Gluchowski (Poole) 18, Mark Carmichael (Newport) 16, Steve Harris (Poole) 16, Thomas Reed (Exeter) 15, Ashley Hill (Ipswich) 13, Jamie Chittock (Ipswich) 12, Nicky Evans (Newport) 11, Gavin Wheeler (Southampton) 11, Leon Mower (Ipswich) 11, Aaron Morgan (Poole) 11, Chris Timms (Birmingham) 10, Aaron Herbert (Exeter) 10, Arek Szymanski (Poole) 10, Mark Winwood (Birmingham) 9, Craig Nethercott (Exeter) 7