VAUX GRAND PRIX
Paul Curran scored another impressive Star Trophy victory in the North East Vaux Grand Prix on Sunday. His face was a picture of delight as he saluted the crowd 49 seconds ahead of his Manchester Wheelers team-mate Mark Gornall and Phil Bateman (VC Bradford).
The tough 106-mile course, nagging cross-winds and top-class opposition, including Star Trophy leader Ben Luckwell (VC St Raphael) were not enough to stop Curran controlling the race almost from start to finish. He won with an attack in the final lap on the steep prime hill.
Gornall and Bateman had powered their way through the final miles to catch Curran's original breakaway companions, Brian Johnson (Wembley RC) and Nigel Bishop (ABC Centreville).
The early action in the seven-lap race around a hilly circuit, including the prime hill at Quarrington Bank, was centred around Bateman, Nigel Simpson (Wembley RC) and Dave Spencer (Paragon RT) who took 1-10 out of the bunch in the opening miles.
The pace proved too much for Simpson who was dropped from the break, and at the beginning of the second lap the two remaining off the front were at 58 seconds as the bunch hammered over the prime hill, having lapped the circuit at an average of 25mph.
On the descent of Synham Bank the bunch were travelling at over 60mph and the two leaders were caught only for Gornall, Chris Young and his Paragon RT team mate Greg Newton to counter-attack and establish a short lead into the third lap
Fourth time up the prime hill the selection was well under way as 10 riders were off the front, without Curran, but with Gornall, Stephen Marchant (CC Orpington) and Andy Chapman (Featherstone RC).
The group were 1-20 ahead of the bunch which was beginning to split into small groups.
In lap five the break was brought back to 30 seconds and it was at this point that Curran made his move. He jumped from bunch to break and then took Johnson and Bishop off the front and the three quickly gained 50 seconds.
On the final climb of Quarrington Bank Curran attacked and converted an initial yard-wide gap over Bishop and Johnson to 1-15 half a lap later. In the final 10 miles he easily held his lead while Bishop and Johnson were caught by Gornall and Bateman, while the remnants of the bunch battled it out for minor placings.
Curran admitted that the strong winds had affected his legs in the last miles and was glad to sit down at the finish.
"It was a funny sort of race, people kept jumping and opening gaps. I had no plan really, we (the break) were working for two laps, there was a group chasing behind and I thought we could get caught so I decided to go it alone," he said.
The win puts him back on top in the Star Trophy, but had Luckwell worried him?
"He is a big strong lad, but on a course like this things may go my way a little bit," he said.
1. PAUL CURRAN (Manchester Wh-Trumanns Steel) 106m
2. M. Gornall (Manchester Wh) at 49sec
3. P. Bateman (VC Bradford);
4. D. Spencer (Paragon RT) both st
5. W. Hart (Ferryhill Wh) at 1-12
6. B. Luckwell (VC St Raphael)
7. N. Bishop (ABC Centreville)
8. B. Johnson (Wembley RC)
9. P. Rogers (VC St Raphael) all st
10. B. Smith (Johnstone Wh) at 3-10.