DTRA’s own ‘Prince of Wales’ Toby Hales again proved himself the master of the Amman Valley Trotting Track with his sixth victory at the half mile venue to level the scoring at the top of the 2021 Indian Motorcycle DTRA UK Flat Track Nationals.
2018 Champion Hales had been forced to do things the hard way after crashing out of his opening ride in the qualifying Heats and, despite securing two second places to book his place in the Final, he was left with only fifth choice of starting position. It was holeshot King Rob Mear who made the fastest launch off gate three, trapping Hales on the inside around the first two turns, and allowing 2021 Greenfield winner Gary Birtwistle, top seed to the Final in Ammanford, to come through for second.
Birtwistle’s early pursuit of Mear proved unsuccessful as he overcooked the bottom bend, dropping to fourth with both Hales and a lively Angus Gough coming through. But Birtwistle recovered third at the end of Lap Two and Gough slid off from fourth three laps later. It was a disappointing end to another strong performance from Gough, a podium finisher at the Greenfield Oval, and his non-finish from the Final in Wales sees him drop to fifth in the series Standings, eighteen points back from top spot.
By the half race distance and with Gough now out of the running, the podium trio were left clear of the pack. And Rob Mear, having broken more than a second clear over the first kilometre, began to fade, running half a second a lap slower than Hales and Birtwistle who were not kept behind him for long. It was nonetheless a fine first appearance of the season from Mear, still chasing the first victory of his Flat Track career and he fought tooth and nail to make it this one, toughing it out around the outside of Toby Hales for three of the four turns on Lap Five before finally conceding the lead.
Gary Birtwistle followed exactly a lap later to set up a grandstand finale over the last lap and a half between himself and Toby Hales. A fine outside move on the bottom bend looked to have settled things in favour of Birtwistle but track specialist Hales was not to be outdone, making a determined block pass on the final two turns to resist Birtwistle’s attentions.
Further back youngster Jordan Miller enjoyed a career-best result with fourth, a determined second place behind Gary Birtwistle in Heat One setting the tone for his strong afternoon. Neil Macqueen and Gareth Williamson also put in their best pro finishes with seventh and eighth respectively. And Jack Bell battled back well from a third-ride fall that had left him only eighth seed to the Final by fighting through to another fifth place that moves him third overall.
Attentions now turn to King’s Lynn, originally scheduled to host the 2021 season opener and now the venue for Round Four in four weeks’ time.
AMMAN VALLEY FINAL RESULTS: 1st Toby Hales, 2nd Gary Birtwistle, 3rd Rob Mear, 4th Jordan Miller, 5th Jack Bell, 6th Paul Young, 7th Neil Macqueen, 8th Gareth Williamson, 9th Leah Tokelove, 10th Westley Agius, 11th Joe Banks, 12th Angus Gough
UK PRO NATIONALS LEADERBOARD: Toby Hales 36, Gary Birtwistle 36, Jack Bell 22, Jordan Miller 20, Angus Gough 18
Report by Alex Raby – Picture by Paul France