Friday, April 12, 2024
CheetahsOxford Speedway

REACTION: “I’m very happy with my own performance. I’ve struggled the previously two times that I’ve been to Poole, so it was a nice turnaround.”

MONARCH Oxford Cheetahs started their 2024 season by slipping to a heavy 29-61 defeat at Poole last night (Good Friday) in the BSN Series.

With their press and practice rained off on Wednesday, some of the Cheetahs went into the meeting with precious little track time and it told, as Pirates – still smarting from losing both the big finals at the end of 2023 to Glasgow and Scunthorpe – tore into the visitors.

Despite the final scoreline, it wasn’t a poor meeting. The Poole track has been subject to work during the winter, inheriting shale from sadly closed Wolverhampton. Despite heavy rain in the preceding days and showers earlier on Good Friday, the track held up well and produced some terrific racing during the course of the evening.

Both Luke Killeen (Heat 2) and Scott Nicholls (Heat 4) produced early heat winners for Cheetahs and the score was 14-10 to Poole after four races. But Pirates then rattled off six successive heat wins to kill off the meeting as a contest.

Killeen was the highlight from an Oxford perspective. The 18-year-old Australian-based British rider has collected paid wins before at Cab Direct Championship level, but Heat 2 was his opening race win at second tier level, and he looked lively all night and finished his evening with eight points.

Killeen led Ben Cook for over a lap in Heat 4. By that time that Cook passed Killeen, Nicholls had built up a lead and won the race, leading to a 4-2 to Cheetahs and their only heat advantage all night.

Killeen, who won the Western Australian state championship for the first time over the winter, said: “I’m very happy with my own performance. I’ve struggled the previously two times that I’ve been to Poole, so it was a nice turnaround.

“It was tough for the team. Everyone gave their best, but there’s new shale down at Poole this season and it was a different ball game – some of the lads were struggling to find a set-up that was working for them.

“Nothing is won or lost at the start of the season. At least all the boys have now had at one least outing this season, while we’ve been here once and we will work out the track before we come back here in our league match.

“It’s my highest score for the Cheetahs, so it’s a great start to the British season for me. I think being on the bike over the (Australian) summer has helped me and I want to continue the way I’ve started, while I’m sure the team will soon bounce back.”

Cheetahs are next in action in the corresponding fixture against Poole at Oxford Stadium next Wednesday (April 3), while Oxford Spires feature away at Birmingham on Easter Monday (April 1).

Poole Pirates 61: Richard Lawson 15, Tobias Thomsen 5+1, Tom Brennan 9+1, Zach Cook 11+1, Ben Cook 9+2, Sam Hagon 10+1, Max Perry 2+1.

Monarch Oxford Cheetahs 29: Sam Masters 6+2, Henry Atkins 0, Cameron Heeps 3, Jordan Jenkins 3, Scott Nicholls 9, Luke Killeen 8, Ashton Boughen 0.

PHOTO: The 2024 Monarch Oxford Cheetahs (pic: Steve Edmunds)