A total of 45 riders partook in three events in the annual pre Christmas Team race. Reports of each match are below
'JRM Energy' VIKING 45
A nail bitingly close match between the Vikings and the Aces went down to the wire with the narrowest possible victory. It was a fairy tale 500cc debut for 15 year old Max Ruml who led home team mate Gino Manzares and Steve Russell to start the Vikings off on a 5-1. It looked like scores would even out in heat 2 but Kayle LeoGrande fell in the final turn as he was trying to follow his Aces partner Dan Faria home. Shaun Harmatiuk looked like he had never been away with a win in heat three from a fast John Marquez. Tyson Talkington led home Novratil in 5 to keep the Vikings 6 ahead. Burmeister and Russell found their groove in heat 5, getting a 5-1 for the Aces over Ramirez and Harmatiuk and narrowing the score to 2. Manzares and Ruml restored the gap to 6 with a hard earned maximum and keeping Novratil in third. Marquez got a brilliant win in 7 over Talkington and McConnell, keeping the gap at 6. Ruml got the gate in heat 8 and led but on lap two he got too much speed coming out of turn 2, crashing on exit and being excluded from the re-run. Steve Russell got the win in the restart but what should have been a 5-1 became a 3-2 to the Aces when LeoGrande crossed the white line and was excluded. Heat 10 saw a 3-3 with Novratil being the victor for the Aces. Heat 11 had the Viking stretching the lead to 7 - Manzares led home Scopellite with Ruml on a borrowed bike in third with Marquez falling. Burmeister and Russell got another 5-1 in heat 11 to bring the gap down to three and Scopellite's win and 4-2 with Dan Faria in 12 brought the Aces within a point. Their rally continued as Novratil's defeat of Manzares and Burmeister's third place gave a 4-2 and a one point Aces lead. Heat 14 however saw the Vikings 4-2 back with Ramirez winning and restoring the Vikings to a 42-41 lead. It all came down to heat 15, the nominated rider's race. Vikings boss Steve Graham went with Manzares and Talkington whilst the Aces Peter Davenport chose Russell and Novratil. Manzares led a hard chasing Novratil and the 3-3 gave the Vikings the win by the narrowest margin possible.
It was an excellency fought event and neither team was ever far enough behind to use a tactical. The Aces, though the losing team, provided 8 heat winners to the Vikings 7.
Heat 1: Ruml, Manzares, Russel, Burmeister 5-1
MATCH 2 - DIVISION 2
In the 2nd match The Aces simply proved to be too strong in depth for the Vikings to keep pace. Gabe Price won heat 1 though Davey Shaw's fall kept its as a 3-3, the Aces got a 5-1 in heat 2 from Pierson and Dion to lead by 4, The Vikings fought back in heat 3 - Steve Bowen leading home Shawn Eldridge with Brad Moreau's third place bringing the gap to 2. Herkner won for the Aces in Heat 4 in a tied heat but the NorCal duo of Eldridge and Dilkey found their groove in heat 5, the 5-1 putting the team now 6 up. Heat 6 was also a 3-3, Davey Shaw winning. The Aces provided their 6th winner in 7 heats in heat 7, Herkner winning his second race. This was the start of a run of four 5-1's that saw the Aces 41-19 up after 10. Laurer got 2nd for the Vikings in heat 11 on a double point tactical but the first and third for Herkner and Pierson meant a 4-4 tied race. The Vikings did rally with a 4-2 in heat 12 and a Laurer / St Louis 5-1 in 13 to pull 6 points back. However by this the match was long over and two 5-1's with victories from Norcal's Dilkey and Eldridge sealing a massive win. The Aces provided 12 heat winners and only 4 last places.
CHRISTMAS CUP AGGREGATE - VIKINGS 89 - ACES 102
MATCH 3 - DIVISION 3 / JUNIORS - PANDAS 59 - WITCHES 43
Huge thanks are due to all riders, mechanics, staff and fans who came out to IMS yesterday, and of course Shawn, Benny and crew.
It was a superb event enjoyed by all. All 45 riders who signed up showed up meaning no program headaches in an unfamiliar format to many. It was very thrilling to see the riders getting into the team spirit and looking out for their team mates both off and on the track. The weather was very nice and the racing was exciting. Our past team races have had mixed divisions and thus very spread out races - this time it was much closer action.
The Division 1 riders also got a very nice bonus - the event was originally advertised as a strictly amateur for fun race with no purse and most every rider who showed up yesterday signed up knowing such. Then, with the quality riders we had signing up we wanted to pay something - we put heats for sale - sales did not go so well (I know I've likely over sold you all this year on many worthy causes!) but we made up the difference ourselves anyway after the event and bought the remaining heats.
A lot of attention was on Max Ruml, making his 500cc debut and his performance typified his talent whilst keeping his feet truly on the ground - a fairy tale first race win followed up by a paid win and then the spectacular get off whilst winning his easiest heat on paper followed by a solid third place. The youngsters excelled and an older dog, Steve Russell, had a great score in what was his first ever team race!
2013 is going to be a very busy year for me - the FIM calendar received last night had a surprise or two on it - but I'd like to think we can do this again some time in the off season.
Once again, thanks for the support and thanks to all who made this a great day of fun and a nice warm up the Grand's ground breaking event coming up in 20 days!
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