Despite weather forecasts looking somewhat average leading into Sunday’s event in Collie, the conditions were close to perfect with sunny skies and only a light southerly for the field of almost 100 who turned out for Round 1 of the Cristal Titanium Series in Collie.

There was a bit of wheeling and dealing around the registration desk as teams short of riders quickly snapped up those who had entered as individuals.  This included Mark Thomas’s All Stars team who were depleted with a no show from young Brad Linfield.  After a superb performance at the recent Collie Donnybrook, Mark Benson was therefore soon tapped on the shoulder and given the unenviable opportunity to step up into cat 1 and try to hang on in a TTT with Nicholas Lawler and Peter McDonald.

Other individuals were quickly embraced by the Eaton Dogs showing their usual friendly nature and numbers were boosted to allow a second dog squad to roll out with Steve Camarri, Wayne Schaap from Busselton and Ian from SPR all happy to join the hounds.

It was good to see Brian Johnson back racing again after receiving some encouragement and tips from other racers in the Collie Donnybrook.  He was joined by the in form Chris Howard, Ian Ferry sporting the President’s bike and Paul Liddicoat from Margaret River having his first go at road racing.

The introduction of coloured race caps made it easy to quickly determine categories and with team members all having to be in the one grade the tactical approach needed to be different to last year.  Avanti Uberquads who have plenty of experience at these SWCC series were looking like they meant business as they lined up with 225 Racing, BDC Drilling 1 (sporting new super smart kit), Champion Lakes Racing and the SWCC crew.

Unfortunately a bingle mid race saw Jaiden Lanigan have to withdraw with minor injuries and young Tony decided to pull out of the race.  While 225 team mate Darren Coram stopped to assist as did Darren Spouse (BDC’s token female) the rest of the bunch continued on undeterred making good time toward the finish line of stage one.

Young Nicholas Lawler put in a good sprint to take the first stage ahead of Martin Thurlby from Uberquads and Jamie Coutts from BDC with young Bryce Lanigan in fourth place.

Team Arimia were always going to be hard to beat in Cat 2 and James Stephenson claimed stage one ahead of Dave Berglund representing Team Dunsborough with Adam Carson from Uberquads 2 in third place in front of BDC’s Vik Cheema.

Category 3 was the largest bunch by far, bolstered with the addition of the women’s teams starting at the same time.  Eaton Dogs rider Ian Hayward showed the benefit of recent training in the spin classes with a quick turn of speed to just get over the top of young gun Ben Hastie who unfortunately had a bad crash on the track on Friday night.  Great to see Russell Horlin back competing and leading a new group of keen recruits with Cathie Rice Travel and he rode well to claim 3rd place ahead of Manjimup’s Roger Kamman.

How good to have enough numbers for a female teams category with a number training for the upcoming ToMR.  The Riders Choice Women were impressive and dominated the road race with Margaret Gollagher claiming the win ahead of Alison Dyson with Bronwyn Sax in third place.  Fourth went to Mercy Ships’ Sabin Bird with Shannon Miraglia in fifth.

After a short break during which the Eaton Dogs enjoyed a gourmet selection of picnic dog food, it was soon time to get stage 2 underway.

The SWCC teams in cat 1 were looking somewhat depleted with only 3 riders in the All Stars and 2 riders in the SWCC Racing team (Bryce and Franz) after the crash.  There were no such challenges for the Avanti Uberquads however and although they didn’t quite catch the SWCC All Stars, they blitzed everyone posting a very impressive 52.45.  The All Stars were the only other team under 56 minutes and took 2nd place ahead of BDC Drilling 1.

Team Dunsborough were also very impressive recording the third fastest time overall and likely to improve significantly over the season as well with riders with TT’ing credentials like Bing Pasco.   They easily took out Stage 2 in Cat 2 ahead of Arimia and SWCC Masters who were strongly captained by the experienced time triallist Denny Teede.

Ian Ferry and Chris Howard put in some big efforts to bring SWCC Racing 2 home for victory in the TTT in cat 3 a handful of seconds ahead of Prime.  The two Dogs teams were neck and neck with Dogs 2 just getting the better of their counterparts.  Unfortunately Russell’s Cathie Rice crew hit the deck at one point with a touch of wheels but no major injuries.

Riders Choice Women continued their domination of the Women’s category recoding an impressive 1.03.28.  Mercy Ships were next fastest ahead of Next Vision.

Loose Wheels enjoyed their TTT and their time of 1.14.21 was not only respectable but also saw them deadheat with the junior team.  Harrison, Lowan and Josh dropped Isabella a couple of km from home and the three put in a very impressive sprint finish but needed just one second to get in front of their Saturday morning companions from group 4.  No doubt on the hilly Dardanup course the boys will be feeling confident of getting one up on their adult training partners.

Overall placings in each category are looking very interesting after round 1 with Avanti leading Cat 1 ahead of SWCC All Stars and Arimia just ahead of Team Dunsborough in Cat 2.  Eaton Dogs 1 are in the lead in Cat 3 just ahead of SWCC Racing 2 and Busselton Cycle Club while Riders Choice are already out to an almost unbeatable lead in the Women’s category.

Many thanks to Mark Thomas for the huge amount of work he has done in pulling this series together, to Suzanne who always sorts IMG and registration, Brendon Morrison for promotions and organisation on the day, Robbie Commons who is looking after signs and juniors, Hugh McDonnell our motorbike escort, Jamie Moloney from Collie Cycle Club who marshalled today, Brian Kennedy for manning the start line, Paul Cogan for manning start/finish lines and all the team captains for pulling your teams together.  Also huge thanks to our sponsors Cristal Titanium and Shire of Dardanup.

Round 2 at Dardanup on the 4th October will be a different ball game with a few more hills to challenge riders and the added incentive of Golden Gnomes on offer for individual Category winners on the day.  Should be a great day out!!

Round 1 – Cristal Results