REPORT: SUPERFINALS 2017

After four epic regional rounds the pro teams have experienced scorching heat, high winds and thunderstorms as they’ve raced across cobbles, plastic track, tarmac and now the polished granite tiled surface of Canary Wharf’s Montgomery Square. And getting to this venue, for this moment, is what all their hard fought battles so far were about. But few could have predicted just how dramatic the deciding skirmish would be.

CANARY WHARF PROVIDED THE DRAMATIC SETTING FOR #SUPERFINALS17


The SuperFinals see the conclusion of the overall Team competition which is based on an Olympic style medal table. The team with the most gold medals from both the male and female categories will win the Series. If teams have the same number of golds, then the number of silvers or even bronze medals will decide the title.


But that wasn’t the only title up for grabs. The teams were also competing for two other sub-competitions, The Catch Trophy (rewarding aggressive riding) and the Most Wins Trophy (rewarding the most consistent team).

SPEED PAYS - THE MEDALS AND TROPHIES AWAITING THE WINNERS


And for the riders themselves there’s the added incentive that the gold medal winners on SuperFinals night are also crowned the individual national champions. Could both Patrick Robinson and Jess Stone defend their 2016 titles or will one of new crop of pro rider talent joining the series this year upset the established order? The scene was almost set. But not quite.


Add to the mix the qualifying amateur competitors. Their performances at the regional rounds, or by topping the time sheets in the early morning qualifying session in Canary Wharf on the day, gave them the opportunity to race alongside the pros. Riding as part of the pro teams and in front of the crowds and TV cameras too, importantly their results count as well. So with the tables in all three team competitions still wide open, it was certainly the case that a complete unknown amateur rider could help secure one team the 2017 title.

QUALIFYING - TEAM CORNWALL'S VERONIKA PUSHES TO THE TRACK LIMIT


PRO QUALIFYING

Doing well in qualifying offers the teams an easier route to the all important medal races. It also opens up the opportunity to score much needed Catch Trophy and Most Wins Trophy points against lesser opposition. And with sights firmly on the Catch Trophy the South Coast Rollers did exactly what they had to do, they secured pole position by setting the fastest combined time in qualifying.


But only by four hundredths of a second from the resurgent Team Dublin, headed up by 2016 Pro Champ Jess Stone. Team London, with debut rider Harry Molloy, were a close third on home soil (well polished granite). Thus these three teams, SouthCoast, Team Dublin and Team London, would now have the advantage in the first round of Eliminator races.


Their opponents, respectively, would be Team Cornwall, who qualified last 3.57 seconds off the pole position time, Suffolk Saints with returnee Bryn Dickerson and Series leaders Team Wigan who qualified fourth.

FIVE TEAMS WENT INTO THE SUPERFINALS WITH A CHANCE TO WIN THE SERIES


THE MEDAL TABLE

In the overall medal table Team Wigan had three golds, Team Cornwall just one behind with two golds and then South Coast, Team London and Team Dublin all had one gold each. With three golds available to win (Male Pro, Female Pro and Amateur) any of these five teams could still lift the Series winners’ trophy. But the next few races could build or break their fortunes.


THE ELIMINATOR RACES


Race 1 & 2 South Coast versus Team Cornwall - In the Most Wins Trophy just two wins separate South Coast Rollers from leaders Team Wigan, so having pole position was going to give Craig and Rowena every opportunity to close that gap as they would line up against the slowest qualifiers Andy and Veronika of Team Cornwall.


As expected the first two Eliminator races allowed the SouthCoast pairing to do just that. Craig and Rowena both progressed to the semi finals and drew level with Team Wigan in the Most Wins Trophy.


However this early match up also placed the two top teams in the Catch Trophy against each other. During the encounter as Team Cornwall just were clearly not going to be able to score any further catches it seemed SouthCoast may have done enough to secure themselves at least one trophy already. Result!


Contrast to Team Cornwall with Andy now eliminated, even if Veronika progressed as fastest loser the team could not now win a sufficient medal tally to overhaul leaders Team Wigan. So Team Cornwall's dream of retaining their 2016 title was now over.


RACE HEADLINES:

TEAM CORNWALL OUT OF THE RUNNING FOR SERIES TITLE

SOUTHCOAST 'VIRTUALLY' CLINCH THE CATCH TROPHY


Race 3 & 4 Team Dublin versus Suffolk Saints – A mix of results for both teams. Bryn (Saints) takes the win eliminating Csaba for Team Dublin. Meanwhile his Suffolk Saints teammate Kara is eliminated by a catch delivered by the ‘assassin’ Dublin’s Jess Stone. Her catch puts Team Dublin into 4th place in the Catch Trophy competition.


However with Csaba now eliminated Team Dublin’s faint hope of winning overall was now dashed. Suffolk Saints, the rank outsiders, had any little hope they had ruined with Kara’s early demise.


RACE HEADLINES:

BOTH TEAM DUBLIN & SUFFOLK SAINTS OUT OF THE RUNNING FOR SERIES TITLE


Race 5 & 6 Team London versus Team Wigan – Two potential overall winners Harry (London) and Patrick (Wigan) went head to head, neither rider willing to settle for the fastest loser slot. However experience paid off with Patrick snatching the win and the final guaranteed place in the semi finals. His wins also placed Team Wigan back into the lead in the Most Wins Trophy. Meanwhile Harry’s teammate Anna scored a win against Jess Greaves (Wigan). And with Harry going through as fastest loser this meant that both teams progressed to the Semi Finals still in the fight for the overall title.


RACE HEADLINES:

HARRY'S PRGORESS AS FASTEST LOSER KEEPS TEAM LONDON IN THE HUNT FOR THE SERIES TITLE

TENSION MOUNTS IN THE PRO RIDER PITS


THE SEMI FINALS

The main contenders had now been whittled down to just those who would contest the gold / silver medal and the chance to be crowned the national champion. The teams left in the hunt for overall victory were leaders Team Wigan followed by South Coast and Team London both two golds behind in the medal table.

PRO-MALE SEMI FINAL 1 Craig (SouthCoast) brought all his fire power and strength to home boy Harry (London) recording a narrow win. But Craig’s win, once again placed SouthCoast level with Team Wigan in the Most Wins Trophy both teams having 15 wins a piece. Harry’s relegation to the bronze medal race meant Team London were now ruled out of any chance for overall victory in the series. The Series was now just a two horse race between Team Wigan and South Coast.

THE SUN SETS ON LONDON & TEAM LONDON'S SERIES TITLE HOPES AS HARRY IS RELEGATED TO THE BRONZE MEDAL RACE

PRO-MALE SEMI FINAL 2 Bryn (Saints), who was now riding for personal glory only, was beaten by Patrick (Wigan). Patrick’s win once again placing Wigan back at the top of the Most Wins Trophy by one point to South Coast.


WAITING FOR THE KILL - PATRICK LINES UP FOR THE START OF HIS SEMI FINAL AGAINST BRYN


PRO-FEMALE SEMI FINALS 1 The pendulum of the Most Wins Trophy now swung in the other direction with Rowena (SouthCoast) beating Veronika (Cornwall) and securing herself a chance to go for gold in the SuperFinal. SouthCoast were now once again level with Team Wigan in the Most Wins Trophy.

COOL RIDER - ROWENA KEEPS HER COOL TO BEAT EURO CHAMP VERONIKA AND SECURE HER SHOWDOWN WITH JESS STONE

PRO-FEMALE SEMI FINAL 2 Jess (Team Dublin) seemingly cruised to victory over the London crowd’s favourite Anna (Team London). Jess’s win set up a repeat of the 2016 SuperFinal battle with Rowena that could also decide the overall Series title.


RIDING HIGH - DEFENDING CHAMP JESS STONE DOMINATED HER WAY TO THE GOLD MEDAL SUPERFINAL


THE SUPERFINALS

The next few races would now determ