|NATIONAL Motor-Pace Championship|
POINTS, madison and team pursuit champion in a track career which appeared to have ended some years ago, Paul Curran (Dinnington RC-Neilson) returned to add a new chapter with an impressive win in Sunday's new-look final.
IT was Curran's first-ever motor paced competition, but you wouldn't have known it.
Tucked in tightly behind the experienced Howard Broughton, who has been pacing champions since 1971, Curran looked the part from the word go, his riding style complementing the peculiar needs of the discipline.
With Spencer Wingrave (Neilson-Tivoli), paced by his uncle Paul, also making his competitive bow, the event had a fresh and promising look. A dozen riders signed on so heats were needed for the first time in several years.
Curran and Wingrave qualified one and two in the first heat, and were a minute faster than defending champion Bryan Taylor in heat two, an indication of what was to come.
The final was raced under the format first used at the world championships last year: two 25km heats with starting positions reversed for the second and the overall result decided on points.
Taylor drew one, Wingrave six and Curran seven for the first race, but another past champion, Paul Gerrard took the early lead.
Taylor challenged for the lead after six laps but lost his pacer under the pressure of the effort, and as he slipped back Wingrave came through to take it up on lap 20, only to be passed by Curran in turn, eight laps later.
Rain began to fall. With 28 laps to go the race was stopped. But the positions stood, and with Curran and Wingrave now drawn one and two for the second heat, it was a processional formality.
'I've enjoyed it,' said Curran, who borrowed a bike from ex-champion Rik Notley.
'I'd done a bit behind a motor-bike on my own home track for training, so it isn't completely alien to me. And since my junior days I've wanted to have a go. Howard gave a lecture at Lilleshall when I was a junior and I've been interested in trying it ever since.
'It's a change, and it's great to get the sensation of speed as you're rushing round fast pedalling on a wheel is completely different to road racing.
'The worlds? No-one has said anything to me and I can't expect too much after one race. But I don't think I'll say no if they ask me, and I'll be back next year.
'Paul and Spencer have shown what quality riders can do and I hope they will carry on for a bit,' said veteran Howard Broughton. 'I've been after Paul to have a go for a long time.'
1. Paul Curran (Dinnington RC-Neilson, Howard Broughton)
2. Spencer Wingrave (Neilson-Tivoli, Paul Wingrave) 70
3. Paul Gerrard (Rhyl RC, Noel Worby) 50
4. B. Taylor (Bournemouth Arrow, C. Denman) 28
5. P. Panton (VC St Raphael, K, Panton) 24
6. T. Orme (Concorde RCC, C. Murden) 18
Heat 1: Paul Curran (Dinnington RC, pacer Howard Broughton); 2,S. Wingrave (Neilson-Tivoli, P. Wingrave) at 3 laps; 3, P. Gerrard (Rhyl RC, N. Worby) at 4 laps; 4, B. Taylor (Bournemouth Arrow, C. Denman); 5, T. Orme (Concorde RCC, C. Murden); 6, P. Panton (VC St Raphael, K, Panton) at 9 laps; 7, S. Barnsley (Othex-Dauphin, G. Bristow). Race stopped after 48 laps in 14-16.66.
Heat 2.- Curran 25km in 22-22.86; 2, Wingrave; at 7 laps; 3, Gerrard; 4, Panton; 5, Taylor; at 8 laps: 6, Orme.