Young Lions shine brightly at Mitas British Youth Speedway Championship
Kyle Bickley, Leon Flint, Nathan Ablitt and Joe Thompson proved the individual winners on an afternoon at Rye House that emphasised the continued talent development work that is ongoing within the domestic sport.
More than 40 riders competed across 46 races in the fourth round of the Mitas British Youth Championship, and regardless of individual stage of progress, every one of them showed 100 per cent commitment and determination on each visit to the track.
In conditions that could hardly have differed more from those that ended the previous night's racing at the circuit – when the track was disappearing under water after a burst of heavy rain - 14 year old Kyle Bickley from Cumbria took the 500cc Final after just scraping through into the decider with 8 points following bike problems while leading his third ride.
The otherwise unbeaten Tom Brennan finished second – and also posted the fastest time of the day of 60.2 secs – while Luke Woodhull placed third.
The Final was marred by the wrist and elbow injuries suffered by Daniel Gilkes, who appeared to straighten and lift on the exit to the last bend before hitting the air- fence at considerable speed. Gilkes required considerable treatment before being assisted, in obvious discomfort, into the track ambulance.
13 year old Leon Flint from Berwick took the 250cc Final after quickly finding a way past his main rival Jason Edwards, who in turn headed home Drew Kemp. Flint and Edwards have now each won two of the four rounds.
The 250cc class had earlier produced the closest and most compelling races racing of the afternoon, with little to show between the rivals.
The 150cc Final was collected by 12 year old Nathan Ablitt, who went through the card and is still yet to suffer a race defeat in any of his four rounds to date. Sam Hagon took the runner-up slot, with Kieran McCoy finishing third, while Josh Parnell placed fourth for the second consecutive round after suffering mechanical problems on the start line.
Finally, the 12-year-old Thompson twins dominated the 125cc bracket, with Joe eventually taking pole position after both brothers had ridden undefeated during the qualifying heats. Sibling Dan, who had won earlier rounds at Glasgow and Scunthorpe, finished second, ahead of Harry McGurk, who had dropped just one point in his qualifying heats, with Corbin Pavitt fourth after suffering problems at the gate in the Final.
Young Lions Manager Neil Vatcher was highly upbeat afterwards. "Apart from the unfortunate way the meeting ended with Daniel Gilkes' injury, it has been a great afternoon.
"I would like to thank everyone who came out to support the future of British Speedway. Hopefully, everyone can spread the word, because as I keep saying the future DOES look bright and we've got some great kids here.
"Things have really come through this year. We've got three riders in the World U-21 Final, and guys who are riding in the Elite League who have come through the British Youth Championship.
"There are many more here today who in the next few years have the potential to get through to U-21 Finals, and hopefully will go on to ride in the Elite League and Grand Prix. So it is a good time to be a British Speedway supporter."
500cc qualifying scores: Tom Brennan 12, Daniel Gilkes 11, Luke Woodhull 10, Kyle Bickley 8, Jordan Jenkins 7, Anders Rowe 6, James Hitchen 6, Kean Dicken 6, Sam Woolley 5, Carl Basford 4, Alex Spooner 4, Sam Bebee 2, Sheldon Davies 2. Final: Bickley, Brennan, Woodhull, Gilkes (fell) (63.0 secs).
250cc qualifying scores: Leon Flint 11, Jason Edwards 8, Drew Kemp 5, Aaran Butcher 0. Final: Flint, Edwards, Kemp (3 riders only) (64.7 secs).
150cc qualifying scores: Nathan Ablitt 12, Sam Hagon 8, Kieran McCoy 8, Josh Parnell 7, Mason O'Rourke 3, Jamie Bursill 3, James Laker 0. Final: Ablitt, Hagon, McCoy, Parnell (ef) (68.8 secs).
125cc qualifying scores: Joe Thompson 12, Dan Thompson 12, Harry McGurk 11, Corbin Pavitt 9, Sam McGurk 8, Mikey Robbins 8, Mickie Simpson 6, Jordan Palin 6, Freddie Fox-Baron 5, Danny Curl 5, Jacob Clayton 4, Alex Goldsborough 4, Bailey Fellows 4, Elliott Kelly 2, Taya Thirtle 2, Jacob Fellows 1, Max Perry 0. Final: Joe Thompson, Dan Thompson, Harry McGurk, Pavitt (ef) (67.1 secs).