Photo Credit: Ian Rispin
Newcastle Speedway’s teenage racers Archie Freeman and Danny Smith of the Gems in the 500cc class, and Owen Booth of the Sapphires in the 125cc (B class) completed their fourth round of the 2020 British Youth Championships up at Edinburgh’s Lothian Arena on Saturday afternoon, although for one it ended up as a dramatic and painful end.
Booth ‘s main competitor was Stene Pijper with the pair battling hard with one another in three of the five qualification heats, with the Newcastle racer passing Pijper off bend two in the second race only for the Edinburgh-based youngster to capitalise on an error from Booth on the second bend of the third lap blasting past for the win.
Pijper qualified for the final on 12 while Booth made it through on seven points, lower that it could have been after a fifth race fall when he locked up and fell as Jake Lee falling over his stricken rear wheel with Booth’s exclusion, but he was still in the 125cc (B) final and took a second place behind Pijper from the gate ahead of Becky Weston and Harry Fletcher.
Freeman and Smith had four qualification races too in the 500cc class, with Freeman out in the opening heat, in which he made a solid gate to lead well into the first bend, but Sam Hagon went down on that opening bend, causing the race to be stopped and re-run without Hagon, and Freeman did it again to take up a big lead to win well over Mickie Simpson and Elliot Kelly.
Both Newcastle youngsters were out together in Heat Three against the Leicester-based Thompson twins, Joe and Dan, with Joe leading off bend one, soon to be joined up from by his twin as Freeman battled on in third to take a secure third over Smith, while the Tyneside duo were again out together in the fourth qualifier which saw another perfect gate from Freeman to lead to the finish line ahead of Harry McGurk and his brother, Sam Mcgurk in third.
The third Smith and Freeman clash came in Heat Eight, and three-man race without the injured Hagon, and it was Smith who roared away to take the early lead before Freeman threw the bike hard under him off the second bend and down the back straight to make the win, and the three points with Smith defending second successfully over Sam Peters for a well-earned two points.
With Freeman in the clubhouse with a total of 10 points, and comfortably into the 500 Final, Smith’s last race was Heat 10 and early on did well to pass Kelly on the second bend, but Kelly hit the gas and reclaimed third place round the third bend ending Smith’s challenge, who ended his day on two points.
Freeman lined up in the final alongside the Thompson twins and Harry McGurk with the twins taking the top two places as Freeman started his chase for the third placed point behind McGurk, but coming round the fourth bend, he caught McGurk’s rear wheel, launching himself at speed into the air fence, which deflated upon impact, such was the speed of the crash.
The race was halted immediately and medical staff swarming around Freeman, who, after about eight minutes got to his feet and walked back to the pits to be welcomed by the rest of the field who came out to check on their fellow competitor in a superb display of good sportsmanship. With the final awarded a win for Joe Thompson, second for Dan Thompson and third Harry McGurk, but there was relief as the air fence did its job perfectly and left Freeman only sore and bruised, and hoping to take his place in Sunday’s British Under-19 Championships at Scunthorpe.
125cc (B) qualifying points
Stene Pijper 3,3,3,3 = 12
Owen Booth 2,2,3,Fx = 7
Becky Weston 1,1,2,1 = 5
Jake Lee F,1,2,Fns = 3
Harry Fletcher R,0,0,2 = 2
Mickie Simpson 2,2,2,Fx = 6
Joe Thompson 3,3,2,3 = 11
Archie Freeman 3,1,3,3 = 10
Sam McGurk 1,1,3,1 = 6
Harry McGurk 2,3,1,2 = 8
Sam Hagon F,Ns,Ns,Ns = 0
Sam Peters 0,2,1,0 = 3
Dan Thompson 2,R,3,3 = 8
Danny Smith 0,0,2,0 = 2
Elliot Kelly 1,1,2,1 = 5