Sunday, May 19, 2024
CheetahsOxford Speedway

REACTION: “We rode well as a team, while three of us have had regular meetings for the Chargers in the last week and that always helps.”

MONARCH Oxford Cheetahs produced an emphatic performance to record a 54-36 away victory in a Cab Direct Championship league match at Birmingham’s Perry Barr stadium last night (Wednesday).

Cheetahs had a seven-match unbeaten streak ended in a KO Cup defeat at Poole last Wednesday, but this was the perfect response – and leaves Oxford in second place in the early Championship standings, with a 100% record after two league matches.

Skipper Scott Nicholls showed no ill effects from his big crash at Poole, despite not quite feeling 100% yet. Both Nicholls (14) and Sam Masters (12+2) put in classy performances, and both dropped just one point apiece, when Birmingham No 1 Nick Morris won Heat 15, after the Australian steamed around the outside on the second turn to head home the Oxford pair.

Third heat-leader Lewis Kerr also won two races for Cheetahs on his way to an eight-point haul.

But arguably the limelight was stolen by 21-year-old Jordan Jenkins and 22-year-old Henry Atkins. Fresh from their exploits from table-topping WSRA Oxford Chargers – where they had led the team to three victories in the last week – Jenkins (8+3) dropped just a single point, while Atkins scored 8+2, despite losing a paid win with a last-lap fall in Heat 8.

Cameron Heeps scored four points, while Ryan Kinsley failed to score. But it’s only a matter of time before riding for both Cheetahs and Chargers – and the regular track time that provides – pays off for Kinsley (recently back after missing a year through injury), in the same way it has for Jenkins and Atkins.

Brummies led 7-5 after two heats, before Kerr and Jenkins put Cheetahs ahead with a 5-1 in Heat 3, with Jenkins battling past Connor Mountain and Alfie Bowtell on the opening lap.

After a fall for Birmingham skipper Justin Sedgmen in Heat 4, Nicholls and Atkins banged in another 5-1, and when Kerr and Jenkins posted their second maximum heat win in Heat 7, Cheetahs were already ten points ahead.

Heeps had started with two last places, but he recovered with a victory in Heat 8. Meanwhile, Atkins passed Joe Thompson and then shot around Alife Bowtell at the halfway stage of the race, after Bowtell was slightly impeded by a mistake by race-leader Heeps. But, having fought from fourth to second, Atkins drifted too wide on the second bend of the final lap and took a tumble, denying Cheetahs another 5-1.

Almost all the overtaking moves were performed by Cheetahs. Birmingham held a 5-1 for most of Heat 10, but Jenkins burst around the outside of Bowtell to snatch second place on the line – much to his delight and that of the visiting support.

Heeps repeated the move on Thompson on the line in Heat 11, as he joined Masters for a 4-2 that re-established Oxford’s ten-point lead. Heat 12 was shared, after Atkins passed James Pearson for third place on the third lap.

Nicholls and Masters clinched victory for Cheetahs with a tapes-to-flag 5-1 in Heat 13.

Over the last week, Jenkins and Atkins have regularly scored 5-1 for Chargers in Heat 15. Last night, they again concluded their evenings with a 5-1 together – but this time in Heat 14 for Cheetahs. Jenkins trapped, while Atkins burst around the Birmingham pair on the opening bends. The pair then team-rode to perfection to a 5-1, before a couple of celebration laps, which were most appreciated by the large visiting support, largely congregated on the first bend.

Morris then denied both Nicholls and Masters their maximums in Heat 15, but Cheetahs still have an 18-point lead for the aggregate point, ahead of when the two sides again meet at Sandy Lane next Wednesday (June 14).

Jordan Jenkins said: “We wanted to come here and capitalise on Birmingham’s poor form of late. We rode well as a team, while three of us have had regular meetings for the Chargers in the last week and that always helps. I’ve been banging on the points recently, so I can’t complain.

“This isn’t a track I particularly enjoy coming to, because I have bad memories of it. But we still have to race it, and the track was much better tonight than it’s been in previous years, and we got stuck in and got the job done.

“I got my engine back recently and it’s going well and I’m making some good starts on it. I’m enjoying my racing, and I’ve got plenty of confidence. It was nice to finish the night on a 5-1 with Henry – we had a good ride together, but we always seem to have good rides together, because we look out for each other.

“In the race against Alfie Bowtell, I was sussing him out and trying both the inside and outside. I knew if I went inside on bends one and two, he’d moved across to try to pin me to the kerb on the back straight, so that left me with a decent chance of getting around him on the final bend and I made it work.”

Henry Atkins said: “It was a really good night. We had the bike dialled in from the get-go again and it was working well. The team started to pull away with 5-1s and we’ve come away with a good-sized win.

“I’m happy to get paid for double figures away from home in the Championship. I’m full of confidence and it’s working well in both leagues.

“When I came off, I bent the forks. We had to change those over during the interval. I put that behind me, jumped back on the bike, and had another good couple of races, and finished off with a 5-1 with Jordan. We’ve built up a really good bond and we know how each other ride and where we’ll be on the track.

“It’s a been a busy last few days, but it’s gone really well. There’s been the three wins with the Chargers, to put us at the top of the table, and now a really good win here at Birmingham with the Cheetahs. We want to keep pushing and reach the finals in both leagues.”

Birmingham Brummies 36: Nick Morris 10+1, Alfie Bowtell 6+1, James Wright R/R, Connor Mountain 7+2, Justin Sedgmen 7, Joe Thompson 4+1, James Pearson 2.

Monarch Oxford Cheetahs 54: Sam Masters 12+2, Cameron Heeps 4, Lewis Kerr 8, Jordan Jenkins 8+3, Scott Nicholls 14, Henry Atkins 8+2, Ryan Kinsley 0.

PHOTO: Lewis Kerr and Jordan Jenkins on their way to a 5-1 over Justin Sedgmen in Heat 7 (pic: LES AUBREY)