Wednesday April 03, 2019
DAVID Mason brought the curtain down on a 20-year racing career - and saw his Birmingham side beaten 53-37 by noisy neighbours Wolves.

The Premiership giants, who brought a good amount of travelling support across the A41, had too much strength in depth in what proved to be a handy workout for both teams.

Brummies co-owner Mason and boss Laurence Rogers will take plenty of positives into their opening Championship Shield meeting at Eastbourne on Saturday.

Italian ace Paco Castagna recovered from a slow start with a duck in his opening ride to secure two race wins on his Birmingham debut after two years out of British racing.

His victory over Kyle Howarth, who is part of the GB training camp ahead of this summer’s World Pairs, brought the house down in Heat 7 and he followed that up with another win in the penultimate race with a stunning ride – again over Howarth.

And Dane Tobias Thomsen, who many had not heard of when Brummies announced his arrival, also notched his debut win when he partnered skipper James Shanes to a maximum in Heat 8.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle to win the meeting and Wolverhampton reserve Ashley Morris stole the show with a stunning 12+2 haul.

The positive aspect is that Morris will now link up with Birmingham on loan – starting on Saturday in Sussex.

He is available for every Brummies meeting under the new protected race nights where his fixtures won’t clash with Wolverhampton.

The final word went to Max Clegg and Luke Becker for Wolves when they combined for a 5-1 wipeout in the last heat.

Mason completed his final laps on a bike and there was also an emotional moment when Garry Stead, who is wheelchair bound with paralysis in the lower body after a track crash in 2006, completed four laps on a bike.

There was also a wheelie competition amongst riders and mascots from both clubs to entertain the youngsters.

The crowd was encouraging for Mason, particularly when considering the heavy rain throughout the region in the build-up.

Now the challenge is for the team to settle into Championship action and for the fans to back them in big numbers to make the gamble of promotion pay off.

Said Mason: “I’m really pleased with how everything went overall.

“First and foremost I want to thank everyone who came along; it was a bitterly cold night and we all appreciate you staying until the end.

“From a Birmingham point of view I think there is plenty to take from tonight’s meeting and it’s given us something to build on ahead of our main campaign.

“Wolves are a top, top team and you can see why people fancy them for the title this season.

“It was nice to do my final laps with Henning Bager too - but I’m definitely looking forward to life on the other side of the fence!”

BIRMINGHAM 37: Zach Wajtknecht 8, Steve Worrall 7+1, Tobias Thomsen 6, Paco Castagna 6, Ulrich Ostergaard 4+1, James Shanes 4+1, Kyle Newman 2+1.

WOLVERHAMPTON 53: Ashley Morris 12+2, Kyle Howarth 12, Sam Masters 10, Max Clegg 7+3, Luke Becker 6+1, Nathan Greaves 6+1, Nick Morris R/R.

Picture: David Mason (Centre) celebrates his racing farewell with Birmingham skipper James Shanes and Wolverhampton counterpart Kyle Howarth.

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