RACE REPORT & VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
It was a tough day in the office for some as the Viking Pro Series rolled into Leigh Town Centre for the first of two back to back rounds.
UCI BMX WORLD CHAMP CHARLOTTE GREEN MADE HER VIKING PRO SERIES DEBUT IN WIGAN
The pro line up was possibly one of the most exciting in recent Insync StreetVelodrome history. Among the regulars were Legend riders Patrick Robinson and Jess Stone, Gold riders Craig Maclean, Rowena Price, Jess Watts and Bronze rider Csaba Csenge.
Joining them in the unexpected heat of Leigh were debut riders Charlotte Green (UCI BMX World Champion), Sergio Layos (BMX Freestyle / Redbull athlete), Jono Jones and Becci Skelton (Mountain bike elite riders).
Also on track were Alice Staniford, Charlotte Cole-Hussein and Joe Connell.
CLASS OF 2018 - POSSIBLY OUR MOST EXCITING RIDER LINE UP EVER
PRO QUALIFYING - MALE
It was amazingly tight after the qualifying session ended with Patrick and Craig level on 18.86 seconds for a 2 lap time trial. With the top two eager to claim the top seed position there was only one way to separate them, Rock, Paper Scissors!
ROCK BEATS SCISSORS! PATRICK GAINS THE UPPER HAND
Hungarian rider Csaba Csenge fell foul of the Johnson Line and was given a 1 minute penalty sending him to the back of the pack. Whilst debut rider Jono Jones created interest with a new 'running' start technique.
PRO QUALIFYING - FEMALE
Jess Stone returned to the Series and continued her dominance with a 0.8 second lead in qualifying. But behind her the competition was hot. Three riders, Rowena, Charlotte Green and Jess Watts were all within 0.09 seconds of each other. It was going to be tight going into the elimination races.
JESS STONE WAS RELAXED BEFORE HER QUALIFYING RUN
RACING - PRO MALE
WATCH THE PRO MALE HIGHLIGHTS NOW
The track was fast and the surface tarmac smooth making for some quick lap times. But it also presented the riders with the challenge of scrubbing off speed into the turns to avoid going over the Johnson Line. Brake too much and you lose time, don't brake enough and you risk being eliminated.
The biggest name to fall foul of the track limits was Legend rider and defending champion Patrick Robinson. This was his first penalty since the introduction of the Johnson Line rule in 2015. Regardless of his long run of success, the referee's decision was a huge blow to the defending champion and rendered him to the Small Final battle for bronze against debut Spanish rider Sergio Layos.
Deflated he rode well within himself in the small final allowing Sergio to claim bronze in his debut race.
LEGEND PATRICK ROBINSON HAD A TOUGH DAY IN THE OFFICE THANKS TO THE JOHNSON LINE
For Csaba, getting to the semi finals was a battle in its own right. Left as bottom seed following his own Johnson Line infringement in qualifying, he lost out to Patrick in the first round elimination races.
However, thanks to the Fan Boost we won a second chance to claw himself back into the competition. His semi final saw him line up against Patrick and thanks to Patrick's penalty he was gifted a shot at the Big Final.
But there was still the issue of Olympian Craig Maclean and his high speed straights powered by his piston-like thighs. Could the lucky challenger cause one of the biggest upsets in Viking Pro Series history?
After a valiant attempt Csaba had to settle for second place as Craig was in determined form to grab the top prize. The result did however lift Csaba up to SILVER status in the Pro Rider Rankings, a potentially vital boost ahead of the SuperFinals.
WINNER CRAIG MACLEAN AND RUNNER UP CSABA CSENGE CELEBRATE ON THE PODIUM
RACING - PRO FEMALE
WATCH THE PRO FEMALE HIGHLIGHTS NOW
Controversy hit the Female competition as once again the Johnson Line reaped havoc with the riders attempts to rail the corners without penalties.
First to be hit with a penalty was Rowena Price, rendering her to the Small Final. There she would face her regular foe, Jess Watts (the winner of this round in 2017). Rowena wasn't at all happy with the result, but the Referee's decision was final.
She went on to narrowly beat her rival to claim herself a bronze.
IT WAS A BUSY DAY IN RACE CONTROL WITH LOTS OF PENALTIES AND CLOSE RACE RESULTS TO DECIDE
Then came the biggest moment of the Viking Pro Series so far. Lining up for the Female final was debut rider and UCI BMX World Champ Charlotte Green who was getting faster and faster with each race. She was to face reigning champion Jess Stone.
Jess had appeared to be cruising so far in the competition, but this was a real challenge and one that made her nervous, as she told pre-race reporter Lucy Bradford.
The two riders hit the banks in full flight mode as they battled over three high speed laps. They crossed the line with Jess ahead by 1 second. But the linesman's flag was up and Jess was given a penalty by the Referee.
Immediately Jess appealed the decision, the first in Viking Pro Series history. Video footage was reviewed by the Referee and the Race Director. The decision was made to re-run the Final.
The second time around both riders rode with the same high level of speed and skill, but with both visually keeping clear of the dreaded track limit line.
Jess emerged the winner of a controlled match. But debut rider Charlotte impressed many and seems to be a serious new threat for the future.
JESS STONE CLAIMS THE WIN BUT CHARLOTTE SHOWS SHE'S A VERY CREDIBLE NEW CHALLENGER
NEXT ROUND: ROUND 3 LEIGH RACE REPORT COMING SOON