England came out on top in the first-ever Short Track of Nations – a team race of America dirt track-style racing on the Peterborough speedway track at the East of England Showground.
Short track UK organiser Peter Boast, at various times an Isle of Man TT rider, an Ice Racer, the first Brit to ride in the AMA championships at Flat track and a Speedway Premier League title winner, stepped in as a late replacement for STUK reigning champion Lee Complin in the England trio.
But it was another notably versatile rider, one-time British grass track champ and current Elite League Speedway star Andrew Moore who stole the show with some quite breathtaking performances in winning twice in the qualifiers as the host country took control.
Joining England and the USA in the Grand Final were Italy and a Dutch trio led by the always dangerous Seitze Hilliger; winner at the Showground when Short Track debuted there last May.
The final saw the imperious Moore quickly establish a lead from the Italian pairing of Marco Belli and Jacopo Monti. Then on lap six of twelve, the exuberant Devin Wenz was a faller.
Damage done to his clutch lever prevented him from being allowed back in the restart and from the staggered line-up this time Belli seized the initiative. It was nip and tuck between the two top European teams to the line - with senior American Mike Gilkey’s fall finally doing for the Statesiders’ chances.
At the line, individual honours went to Belli but with Andrew Moore second just ahead of Darren Pearson it would have to go to a version of countback relating to the third man in each side.
Boast had managed sixth with the other Italian Dario Magnoni only 10th, so the large crowd were able to celebrate a home victory for the England team.
Billed as Europe’s fastest growing motorcycle sport, this was Short Track UK’s third outing at the East of England Showground and the racing was fast and furious as over sixty of the UK and continental Europe’s top riders competed for honours.
But it wasn’t just the cream of Europe this time because for the first team a team of tourists from the home of Flattrack itself, the USA were in town and making an indelible mark on proceedings.
First up on Saturday was Round Two of this season’s Silkolene Short Track UK championship with home-based favourites (two and three in the standings last term), Darren Pearson and Andrew Moore and championship leader (and 2005 champ) the Italian Marco Belli facing not just the largest single field in the event’s history but also the specialist racers from Stateside.
And it was indeed first-blood to the enthusiastic Americans with young Sioux City speedster Devin Wenz mounted on a 450cc Honda swooping to pip Supermoto expert Pearson on the line in a keenly-contested Grand Final.
Stamford-based Victor Bull lived up to his name (not to mention his growing Short Track reputation) by charging home for the third place on the rostrum. Young Tom Wooley from Burton took the honours in the under-card event, the CCM Junior Cup where the new 230cc CCM junior flat tracker is showcased.
The STUK Round won by his younger brother had been held up when the elder of the South Dakotan tourists, Sheldon Wenz crashed heavily.
Undaunted though, Wenz senior was back on the Sunday as the country of Flat track’s origin sought to defend fierce national pride against a challenge from sides from the home countries, the Netherlands, Switzerland, a European select and the also highly fancied Italians in the first ever international team competition ever staged for this discipline: the Short Track of Nations.
The fourth and final event on the weekend’s extravagant menu was a tasty treat of Thunderbike racing with some monster machines pitched into action on the relatively tight confines of the Peterborough Speedway track.
Claiming the honours this time in the Harley-Davidson sponsored event was Boast mounted on a 650cc Suzuki from Jon Lee with Skegness-based Justin Hargate continuing his good start to the season with a rostrum position.
QD Exhausts Short Track of Nations
1 England 29 pts; 2 Italy 27 pts; 3 Netherlands 19 pts
Silkolene Short Track UK Championship Round Two
1 Devin Wenz (USA)
2 Darren Pearson (Huddersfield)
3 Victor Bull (Stamford)
4 Seitze Hilliger (Netherlands)
5 Marco Belli (Italy)
6 Jacopo Monti (Italy)
Points: 1 Belli 31; 2 Moore 25; 3 Monti 24; 4 Pearson 24; 5 Steven Hall; 5 Glynn Pocklington
Harley-Davidson Thunderbikes Round Two
1 Peter Boast (Market Rasen)
2. John Lee (Chorley)
3. Justin Hargate (Skegness)
Points: 1 Boast 36; 2 Belli 31; 3 Hargate 28; 4 Lee 30; 5 Richard May 23; 6 David Selby 20
CCM Junior Cup
1Tom Woolley (Burton-on-Trent)
2 Alf Hyde (Berks)
3 Lewis Cornish (Norfolk)
Points: 1 Wooley 40; 2 Ben Baker 28; Hyde 26