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STARRING ROLE?

Wimbledon hit top spot

After two years without a trophy SL28 was planned to be a season of consolidation for newly promoted top flight side Wimbledon. However Mark Elliott maybe swiftly changing his expectations after his side took an early lead at the head of the division one standings following impressive home and away wins, the latter returned against a side that finished ten points clear of them in the division two table last year. Before making the visit to second tier champions Sawley, the Stars hosted another of their newly promoted rivals, Eastbourne, where a run of four heat advantages in the first four races helped them settle quickly into the new season. Rokus Gergely (10)—at 18 the youngest rider in the youngest side in the league—was one of three riders to score in double figures as the hosts cruised to a 52-38 win. Gergely (6+3) would again have been paid for a double figure score against Sawley but for a retirement from the lead of heat eight, the Stars at the time had been on for their second 5-1 of the meeting and Gergely his second win. Still it was pretty much another one-sided affair in favour of the Londoners, the Stars first ever league win at the venue confirmed when the young Hungarian picked up the minor places alongside the oldest rider in Elliott’s line-up—31 year old Adam Beeby—in heat 14. Tougher meetings are ahead for Wimbledon, but if they can get a run of results going this young side will build confidence quickly. And they’ll have a chance next week to pick up points at title favourites Southampton, who will be without injured second string Marcin Adamski.

TODAY: Shorts

For the fifth time in seven years Southampton picked up points in their first away league fixture of the season. Two this time for the defending champions at Lyme Bay, an opening day 44-46 win secured with Sergey Guerk’s (11) final race victory over Mario Mueller (11). With a combined six race wins a piece the spoils of the battle of two of the league’s best heat leader trios were shared, however it was certainly advantage Southampton lower down the order. Lyme Bay lost out at second string where William Nicholson (1+1) and Vaclav Koch were making their competitive debuts for their respective clubs, Koch beating his opposite number in heat three on his way to an impressive paid nine tally, with three later points earn for a crucial heat 12 victory over Victor Bitkin (9). Just as crucial was Nicholson’s failure to beat Kai Gregory in heat 14, the visiting reserve’s point for third taking his side back in front heading into the last, when Guerk would finish off the job. The injury to Marcin Adamski—picked up in their later 48-42 home win over Birkenhead—will hurt Southampton however, with Dominic Butler set to be promoted to second string and a junior into the reserve berths.

 

With no away wins in division two Purton’s opening day draw at Hull is enough to see the newly promoted side top the standings. A last heat 4-2 from Ryan Govier (12) and Bradley Higgins (10+1) clinched a point for the Pirates in a meeting the hosts had previously raced to ten heat wins in to the visitors four, Jonathan Kingsford (14) and Mark Nemeth (11) having dropped just a point between them until the deciding race. Bigger and better for Purton’s top two at the same venue later in the week, Higgins (13) and Govier (12) racing to three 5-1’s—including one over the hosts—in winning their Pairs qualifier ahead of top flight Rugby (24), with Hull sneaking through to round two in third spot, division one side Sawley finished dead last.

 

Sawley were one of four sides from division one to be eliminated at the first round stage of the Pairs with perhaps the biggest shock coming at Birstall, where last years bronze medallists Tobias Schneider and Ricky Lewis were eliminated. The Timperley pairing finished fourth behind winners of the tie Southampton (24), Bullbridge and the hosts. First round hosts Bolsover and Dundee were also amongst the qualifiers for the second round, their ties won by Grangemouth (23) and Auckland (24) respectively, Eastbourne and Sunderland also progressing from the two meetings.

 

The current top two passed an early test of their SL28 world title credentials in the British Final qualifier at Cradley. Defending World and Overseas Champion Andy Daniel—who is back on loan at Halesown for a second season—scoring 14 to win his semi-final for the third year in a row, last years surprise Grand Prix star, Harry Myers, qualified through in sixth. Lyme Bay’s Darren Corbett scored a maximum to win the second of the semi-finals in Loughborough.

 

With all ten of this weeks meetings in division three ending in victories for the home sides, little can be read into the results, newcomers Nottingham proudly sit top of the table on points difference.

 

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