Emily Hopkins took part in her first training session for some time just prior to the weekend of racing for the Welsh National and Welsh Open Championships and came away with victory in the opening race of the weekend. This was the second time that Hopkins has won the Welsh National title, the last being in 2013, yet had only raced in four races since 2013. Nicole Shering, the rising talent on the dry mat this summer placed second with Georgia Hallett taking third. Eva Pascoe and Jenny Davies rounded out the top five finishers.
It was Shering who set the pace after the first run with a slender lead of 0.01 ahead of Hopkins with Hallett over half a second back from these two. The small field still had a number of top ranked racers in it with Jenny Davies and Lauren Vale more than capable of challenging for the race lead.
Unseasonable rain for the second run meant that the course was slick and fast for the racers. With six to go it was Issy Evans that held the lead in the finish. Jenny Davies, off the pace on the first run could not live with the pace set by her Aldershot teammate but had just enough in reserve to take the race lead.
Davies lead did not last long as Eva Pascoe banished the memories of losing the outright lead in the GBR Series on her last visit to Pontypool by posting a time almost a second and a half faster than Evans’s run leading time to that point. The question was now if Pascoe could hold on a take a place on the podium, something her hard work this summer deserved.
Lauren Vale was next down and sadly for her, she made a mess of things and dropped off the leaderboard. Vale’s time will come and when she does put two runs down on the same race will be up there challenging for the race win.
Georgia Hallett grabbed the lead with three to go with a time just slower than Pascoe. With these races all about being the best Welsh racer, Hallett was now in prime spot to grab the National title. With Hopkins next down, holding on to the race win was her goal.
Hopkins has recently finished studying at University and in the four years since she last raced seriously, the racing world has moved on. To come back and be almost instantly in the mix shows her ability and her determination to win on her home slope. A fastest time on the second run meant that Shering needed to match Hopkins time or go faster to grab the race win.
The one hundredth advantage from the Simon Bannister set first run went as Shering made a small error on the middle section that allowed Hopkins to go eight hundredths faster down the Robin Kellen set second run. Victory for Hopkins in her first race back!
The age group wins went to Lauren Bloom (Under 14, 7th Overall); Eva Pascoe (Under 16, 4th Overall); Nicole Shering (Under 18, 2nd Overall); Caitlin Lewington (Under 21, 9th Overall) and Emily Hopkins (Senior, Race Winner)
Pictures from the races are on www.racerready.zenfolio.com