Dragons on course for round two
A dominant performance from their top five has made Dunmow favourites to cause the upset of round one in the KO Cup, the Dragons racing to a 53-37 first leg victory over SL15 cup winners Sandwell. Up until Rune Jorgensen’s (11) defeat in a last heat 4-2 reversal, the Dragons lead quintet had picked up at least a point in every race they contested, and half of those visits to the track resulted in race wins over their higher division opponents. Three of those wins went the way of Jorgensen who counted all three visiting heat leaders—Chris Correy (twice), Rami Tjernstrom and Mikhail Milserdov—amongst his victims, they beaten in 5-1’s as Morten Hansen (9+3) followed home Jogensen on each occasion, the Dane would complete his maximum with victory in a heat 12 4-2, one which confirmed the Dragons the meeting win. A further 5-1 from Martin Rasmussen (14) and Michael Bjerg (8+1) in heat 13 added further to the Scorpions miserable night, Stephen Hodgkinson will be hoping his £100,000 signing since the defeat—Zsolt Mezo—can do something special in the return leg, because on this form the club are facing only their second opening round exit in nine years. Third division Lye looked to be the venue for another shock, however division two side Swindon—who went into the meeting without a league win in seven—put their recent woes behind them to pull off a 44-46 win on their travels, Jermu Ramo’s (0) £171,000 arrival not immediately identifiable as the cause of the up-tick in form, but it did allow Alexy Khomich to drop to reserve, a position from which he scored paid 12 from his seven rides.
With just two wins in their opening 11 meetings Laceby’s debut in the top flight had not got off to the best of starts, however results turned in their favour this week, with a home league win over Quantock being followed by two positive away results from Martin Smith’s Avenues. The first of those came in the KO Cup at Exeter, they clear favourites now to win the tie—billed as a potential upset given the Falcons great start to their division two campaign—after securing a 42-48 victory at The Country Ground, a venue at which Long Eaton had lost on all their previous visits there. Not this time, they leading from heat two onwards with Exeter forced into using tactical substitutes just to keep the margin of defeat down, new signing at second string Daniel Wood one of five different heat winners for the visitors. Long Eaton took that form into their league fixture at Cradley Heath, where having taken the lead for a second time on the night with a heat 13 5-1 they will count themselves unlucky not to come away with a victory, a last heat 4-2 from the Hammers denying them that but still they picked up their first away top flight point, one which takes them to within two points of Cradley—who are now themselves without a win in six—in the standings.
With a win at bottom side Sandwell under their belts, Sankey were on course to overhaul Southampton in the top flight standings, however the home victory over the Scorpions they required didn’t materialise, the visitors leading throughout to win this one 41-49 and mark themselves as serious championship challenger’s once again. Simon Driffield and Adam Roberts had dropped just a point between them in the four point win at Sandwell, with the former scoring a maximum. However Driffield’s run of successes was ended as early as heat four against Southampton, the 25 year old beaten by World Number six Craig Rowntree (11+1) in a 4-2 which saw the Scorpions take an early eight point lead. A race later Roberts was beaten by Paul Adams (14), and although in turn the home pair scored a win and paid win respectively as tactical substitutes that would be were their side’s comeback would end, Southampton riders winning five of the remaining eight heats, including Adams in a last heat 5-1 alongside Rowntree over the Driffield and Roberts pairing. The result takes Southampton to within points difference of leaders Ramsgate—whose five meeting winning league run came to an end at Quantock (49-41)—Sankey remain fifth.
World Number three Simon Driffield (9) squeezed through to the second round of the World Championship in his qualifier at Manor, doing so after finishing a place above the cut-off following a last heat win over Tomas Pesir (10). Fellow Brit and SL17 GP rider Graham Hancock (10) went through from fourth in a meeting won by Oslo’s Florian Kogler (14). The second of this weeks qualifiers win Plock was won by Sankey’s David Mulrain (14), in a meeting which saw world number 14 and top averaged rider in the field, Alois Jarolim (6), make a surprise exit.
Sittingbourne’s hopes of securing back-to-back promotions were dented by a home defeat in the top of division table clash with Newquay, 44-46, the leaders never headed in the meeting in which Lesta Markoff (12+1) sealed the points with a last heat victory.