A fantastic day of racing on Saturday 5 August in Round 4 of the UniSA HPV Super Series at Tailem Bend for The Bend 8 Hour Pedal Prix.
Blackfriars had three teams in what was the largest field to participate in a pedal prix event since we started competing in the sport in 2019.
Two teams, Hound #1 and Hound #2, raced in the S3 (Senior Secondary) category for students up to Year 12, featuring 52 teams, while Hound #3 competed in the S2 (Middle Secondary) category for students up to Year 9, with 53 teams.
Heading into Round 4 in 3rd place overall – after a very strong start to the season in Mount Gambier in March, a solid race at The Bend back in May and an indifferent performance at Victoria Park at the end of June – our Hound #1 team was looking to rediscover that early-season form. And discover it they did!
Starting on the second row of the grid, the team of Daniel Carlier, Ben Herbert, Tien Chung, Oliver Nolan and Hunter Griffiths ran in the top 10 throughout the day, at times pushing up to 5th and at other times dropping back to 9th.
While the series leaders from Pembroke, St Peter’s and Norwood International High School continued their season-long, three-way fight for the podium places, Hound #1 was locked in the race for the best of the rest, with around 15 cycles all staking claims to that title at various times during the day.
Racing was made all the more interesting as a number of unexpected rain showers in the early part of the afternoon threatened to wreak havoc on the field. But, with a little over 90 minutes of racing left, Hound #1, Norwood International High School Team Focus and Seaview HPV Racing emerged as the most likely contenders, interchanging 4th, 5th and 6th positions.
The final two rider changes were performed flawlessly, with the pit crew running like a well-oiled machine and, particularly the penultimate stop, timed perfectly to allow us to clean the windshield following the final annoying rain shower of the day. This set the stage for our last rider to set off for a 30-minute charge to the finish, with Norwood having pitted earlier and Seaview still needing to make one last change. Rejoining the race from that stop in 6th position, the timing charts showed that the race was going to come down to the final laps. And so it proved.
With 5th place secured from Seaview with two laps (around nine minutes) to go, the places looked set. However, with the Norwood team having to go longer with their last rider, and Hound #1 with slightly fresher legs, the pass was made in the last few hundred metres of the final lap, carrying Blackfriars to 4th place on the day. We also locked in 3rd position in the HPV Super Series, heading into the last race of the season in Murray Bridge in six weeks’ time.
Blackfriars’ second S3 cycle, Hound #2, had been racing inside the top 20 for the first four hours of the day. This team made up of our next generation of lead team riders, Jordan Schrapel, Kane Taarnby, Thomas Pace, Harry Glatz and Jonathan Bunyon, has been developing steadily over the past few years.
This weekend was the first time we had seen our two S3 cycles run so strongly together. If not for one of the day’s rain showers rendering visibility near impossible, resulting in a crash at the precise moment Hound #2 caught up to a slower vehicle, the team was well set for a finish comfortably inside the top 20.
It is a testament to the strength of these vehicles, the ingenuity of our pit crew and the fortitude of our riders that only around five laps were lost to make repairs to Hound #2 as a result of the untimely crash. Dropping below 30th position while in the pits to re-engineer a front chain ring and tape together bodywork, the Hound #2 boys fought back strongly in the second half of the race to end in 29th position, finishing on the same lap as the team in 27th place.
For our newest riders in Hound #3, this race was their longest to date and their first look at the long track at The Bend. Earlier in the year, Ben Colliver, Ewan Moran, Max Mallia, Oscar Smith and Matthew Macrae raced the 6-hour Pedal Prix on a shortened layout at Tailem Bend.
These boys are gaining a world of experience and this shows not only in their consistently improving results but, more so, in the way they are understanding their cycle, how to position themselves on the track during a race with traffic around them and how to continue participating in the team when they are not physically out riding by helping in the pits.
Their 42nd-place finish riding the special Kadli livery cycle – designed by Year 5/6 students Owen Delany, Lachlan Dennis and Rafael Vuksan, who were on hand to watch the race – was the result of a strong and consistent performance in conditions the boys had never encountered before on the 3.4km circuit, more than 200 cycles and rain showers.