Hawks lose at Mildenhall amid disqualification controversy

Hackney side miss Barrie Evans who was sidelined with a foot injury

Hackney Hawks suffered an away defeat at the hands of Midenhall last weekend after missing the services of Barrie Evans, who was sidelined with a foot injury.

The rider-replacement facility gave the Hawks four points as coverage for the former Mildenhall man, leaving a huge hole in the Hackney offence.

Ben Morley – following on from his third-placed finish the night before in the British under-19 Championship – did his best to fill the gap with two wins in an excellent paid 14-point haul. That tally would have been even higher but for a last lap fall while leading heat 15.

Marc Owen added a further race win, but that was about it in terms of major positives. Hackney’s lack of top-end firepower contrasted heavily with a rock solid Fen Tigers outfit that fielded five different race winners, with all seven riders paid for at least one success.

The biggest talking point of the meeting, though, derived from a bizarre heat nine which saw first Joe Jacobs and Cameron Heeps excluded by the referee for separate falls.

With Morley on a tactical-ride nomination, an 8-0 in Hackney’s favour clearly beckoned in the second re-run.

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Unfortunately, Morley’s cut-out came adrift on the final lap, with partner Brandon Freemantle then slowing in an attempt to keep his partner in front for the additional double points.

Morley duly got his bike running again and both riders completed the race, only for the referee to disqualify Freemantle for not making a bona fide attempt to race.

The consequent 6-0 (rather than 8-0) left the Hawks behind 32-22 at that stage, instead of within eight points of their hosts.

As promoter Len Silver stressed afterwards: “The slowing of a rider to allow his partner through when on a tactical nomination is an established situation within the sport, and one that is witnessed at tracks all around the country every week.

“Why, in heat 11 today we had an identical situation, where Ben Hopwood allowed Shane Hazelden through for second place without any questioning of the finish.

“It makes a mockery of an established rule, and we plan to make an official complaint.”

Hackney scorers: Shane Hazelden 7 (5 rides, inc 4 as a TR), Barrie Evans R/R, David Mason 5 (5), Marc Owen 5+1 (5), Ben Morley 13+1 (6 rides, inc 6 as a TR), Brandon Freemantle 0 (4), Ben Hopwood 5+1 (5).