VIPERS READY TO STRIKE
Double win boosts Don Valley
League giants Don Valley are set to make a real race of this years championship, bidding for a record fourth title—but a first since SL9—the Vipers closed to within five points of holders and clears favourites for this years crown, Ramsgate, by recording a 54-36 win over the runaway ‘half-time’ leaders. In inflicting the biggest defeat on the Rams in exactly a year, Matt Akers’ Vipers have shot out of the pack as Ramgate’s main challenger’s, the nature of the win—completed with nine heat advantages to their rivals two—certainly giving Phil Watmough plenty to think about. The success followed Don Valley’s first away win of the campaign, six of their septet racing to heat victories at Quantock as they recorded a 40-49 victory there, the visitors leading from a heat two 5-1 onwards. It was the second successive defeat at Coleridge Way to a top four rival for the Rangers, their bottom four scoring just nine in the loss as against the 19 the riders in the same positions scored for the visitors. As last week though Quantock bounced back from a home loss to win on the road, with a 42-48 success at Sankey keeping their deficit to leaders Ramsgate at eight points. A much better performance from their back-up riders saw the Rangers record their third top flight win at the Woodlands in four years, Bradley Hargreaves paid for a season best ten at reserve—a tally which included a point for a match winning third in heat 14—while second string Corey Wolin left the home side in tactical substitute territory after he recorded a brilliant tapes to line victory over David Mulrain (10+2) in heat seven.
After a promising start to the season—they led the division two standings for four weeks on the bounce—Gateshead have now won just one of their last nine in the league, with a second successive home defeat leaving them eighth and five points adrift of safety. In contrast this weeks Shearlegs Road victors—Barking—have now won six of their last seven, a run which has taken them up to fourth and to within points difference of the promotion places. Barking’s single point victory was returned despite the visitors racing to just five heat wins—the same number Jamie Worthington (15) managed alone for the home side—those successes turned into four heat advantages for the Clan, the hosts managed just three, and one of those—a heat nine 3-2—was returned only after Sean Hilton’s (8+1) engine blew while leading the race. Barking remain outside the top three in the standings after Swindon beat local rivals Dunmow, 54-36, that victory consolidating the Penguins earlier 43-47 success at Lye, a meeting in which the visitors top six scored in all but one of their combined 26 outings to the track. Meanwhile Swindon this week discovered their last four opponents in the Division Two Cup, Liden reaching the semi finals in that competition by the smallest of margins after rivals Lye lost at Cradley, 46-44. Glendale topped Group B following a 53-37 victory over Liden and will take on Gateshead in the last four.
Witham won at York, 43-47, to reach the semi finals of the Division Three Cup where they’ll take on Group B winners, St Peters, second string Neil Notaro winning a heat 14 4-2 as the Pirates picked up the decisive victory with a race to spare. Rookies St Peters meanwhile confirmed their place in the last four with a 53-37 home win over Newquay, the size of that defeat costing the Knights any chance of reaching the knock out stage, with second place in the group going instead to Manor, who’d already completed their qualifying fixtures. Manor will face Sittingbourne in the semi finals, the Stags finishing top of Group A despite a 48-42 defeat at California in their final qualifier.
SL12 winners Ramsgate are on course to reach the final of the European Cup for a second time thanks to a 41-48 semi final first leg win in Prague this week, the Rams completing a comeback from an early six point deficit in the clash with 5-1’s in both heats 13 and 15. Southampton won the first leg of the all British tie against Quantock, 50-40 at home.
Tottenham returned to the top of the standings in the highly competitive division three with back to back wins, the latest success a second victory of the campaign at Witham. Eight down after heat four the Turnpikes recovered to win by four, Leon Creer (14) and Maik Walbrohl (15+2) securing both league points with a last heat 5-1, the pairing’s second maximum in three races. Stepps drop to second despite a 41-48 win at California, the Slickers having earlier dropped a home point to St Peters, who are now unbeaten in five in the league.
Double joy for English riders in this weeks World Championship second round meetings, Sankey’s Adam Roberts (13) taking victory in the tie in Lublin, while Southampton’s Paul Adams (11) secured a shock success in the Quantock qualifier after a race-off win over Iain Johnson.