Crown Edition - ENHANCED
Stars return to top after ‘epic’ win
According to Roman Saenko (13+1) his side’s victory over Southampton was a turning point in the title race, claiming the ‘epic’ success now makes Wimbledon firm favourites to land the title for a fourth time in six years. Celebrations are a long way off yet considering we haven’t yet reach the halfway point of the campaign, however the Stars victory came in a completely one-sided meeting, two 4-2’s and two 5-1’s from the hosts leaving Southampton in damage limitation mode as early as heat four. Even after the use of four tactical substitutes the Saints trailed by 12 and by the end of the night the deficit had grown to 22, the defeat John Shuttler’s side biggest ever in a top flight fixture. Points were scored throughout the Wimbledon side, as only twice in their combined 30 outings to the track one of their riders return to the pits empty handed, and on one of those occasions it was down to mechanical failure, a broken chain costing Ari Vento (11) two points in heat 11. Wimbledon’s victory takes them top of the table for the first time in two months, they going three points clear of the Saints. Earlier in the week Wimbledon had picked up a third away win of the season on the their trip to Auckland, 44-46, Saenko showing how to come from the back on a couple occasions, helped by the favourable conditions he picked off Erkki Arponen (13) to win heat five and Jean Zunters (9) to do the same in heat 13. The latter victory came in a 4-2 which earned the Stars a two point lead heading into the final two races, the minor places in both confirming their success.
Rugby’s roller coaster home league season took another downward dive, a defeat by Eastbourne their third from six meetings at Rowan Arch. The Hyenas had already picked up a draw at the venue in SL23 on their way to the Division One Cup semi finals, a last heat 5-1 from Akos Fekete (14) and Eddie Myhill (10+2) made their latest trip north even more profitable, the pair had also picked up a 5-1 in heat six when Fekete was used as a tactical substitute. Eastbourne went on to beat Timperley 52-38 to extend their winning league run to five meetings, Rugby end the week seventh, a point above the drop zone. Eighth lie Halesowen who dropped points in both their latest meetings after suffering last race 5-1 reversals, Lyme Bay claiming all three on offer on their trip to the Heathens after Thomas Klemmensen (16+2) and Morten Kaya (15+1) secured a 43-47 victory with a heat 15 maximum, while at Purton Halesowen led by four going into the finale in which Magomed Saitov (15+1) and David Lejsal (9+2) snatched a share of the spoils for the hosts.
Wimbledon almost came a cropper in the European Cup despite looking a shoe-in for a semi final place after a 53-37 first round first leg win over Horsens, the Danes taking the tie to the wire in the return, they closing to within two points of the visitors with a heat 14 4-2. Ari Vento (13) saved the day with victory in the last, the nature of the track meant that once he’d got out in front there was no stopping him claiming his third win of the meeting to seal his side’s victory. Wimbledon take on holders and current European League leaders Pila in the last four, the Pole’s eliminating competition debutants Purton this week by eight, reserve Andreas Friedrich (14) racing to four wins as his side completed their success with a 52-38 home win. Lyme Bay and Rugby meanwhile enjoyed their foray’s into Europe, they winning their meetings in Pori and Kassel respectively 44-46 to set up an all-British semi final.
Magomed Saitov (8) will continue his defence of the World title in next months Play Off round in Timperley after missing out on a top three finish in this weeks Continental Final, the three automatic GP places going to Holger Heppke (12), Maris Korablev (12) and Robert Vyskoc (11). World number three Heppke—who rides for Halesowen—become only the second rider to retain the Continental title after defeating Korablev in a race-off in the Pila contest.
Hailsham extended their unbeaten run to nine in all competitions with another set of excellent results, including a second round first leg 55-35 victory over top flight Purton in the KOC. Janne Vuorinen (15) scored a maximum for the Aces in that, as he did in their 41-49 division two win at Cradley earlier in the week, that result plus a home win over Stepps taking them to within points difference of the top of the standings. Tooting remain at the summit, but they dropped a point at home for the first time in SL23, their clash with Grangemouth ending all square after Robert Vyskoc (13) won the last for the visitors. Cradley meanwhile bounced back from their loss to beat Wolverton 41-49 on the road.