Crown Edition - ENHANCED
BULLS IN A CHINA SHOP
Minnows smash top flight duo
Sports newcomers Bullbridge have immediately made a name for themselves, the Bandits winning their home first round Club Pairs tie by a clear five point margin and in the process eliminating top flight duo Auckland and Rugby from the competition. Promoter Leigh Rose took the surprise decision to track reserve Tony Stephens (8) alongside his number one, twice former world champion, Thomas Klemmensen (17), and it was a move that paid off, the pair combining for three 5-1’s in their first four races, including against league champions Rugby in heat eight. Alexandr Danishevskiy and Howard Close had dropped just a point up until that encounter, however the defeat proved to be just the start of their difficulties, the two riders—who went into the competition as the highest averaged pairing of the 30—going on to concede two 4-2’s and another 5-1 in their remaining outings to the track. Those results left them sixth of seven, Auckland above them but only after being the ones to score that 5-1 in heat 19, still though it wasn’t enough to earn them a second round spot, Bullbridge being followed through to the next stage from the meeting by division two side Cradley and fellow rookies Doncaster (20). Sunderland and Purton from division one also missed out on progression in the competition this week, the Stars eliminated at Coleshill in another meeting won by the home side, while Purton were one of four sides to concede a 5-1 to tie winners Peter Wedzynski and Janne Vuorinen, who represented Hailsham (28) at Rochdale.
Roman Saenko (16) and Ari Vento (12) began their bid for a fifth Club Pairs title with an impressive first round victory at Cricklade, the Wimbledon duo racing to four 5-1’s in the tie, the second of which scored against Lyme Bay, one of their expected challengers for this years trophy. The two club’s could yet meet again in the final, with the Buccaneers going through to round two from second spot, albeit having finished some six points adrift of the Stars.
For the second successive season Southampton have opened the campaign with back-to-back wins, the Saints following up a 16 point home success over top flight debutants Purton, with a 42-48 win at Timperley. Sergey Guerk and Radek Latal—starting together in the Southampton side for a sixth straight season—raced to eight wins between them in each of the meetings, a maximum going Guerk’s way at home, Latal claiming one on the side’s travels. The Saints end the week top of the division one table by a point from Lyme Bay, who began their seventh successive top flight campaign with a couple of promising results, holding Eastbourne to a draw away from home as Jason Reeves scored 10+1 from reserve, before going on to defeat title favourites Wimbledon 48-42 at Lyndhurst Road.
Wimbledon and Halesowen both began their SL23 Division One Cup campaigns with away wins, the Stars defeating Eastbourne 42-48 in the competition as teenage Finn’ Jari Annala impressed with a paid 12 haul from reserve, while Halesown notched up a two point success at Auckland following Zoran Pekala (13) and Toni Lindberg’s (13+1) defeat of home number one Erkki Arponen (10+1) in a last heat decider.
Hailsham picked up just two points away from home in the whole of last season in division two, a figure they’ve already matched in SL23 thanks to a last gasp win at Furzton. Janne Vuorinen (15) completed his maximum and a 44-45 victory for the Aces with a win over Petr Englaro in heat 15 of the clash, two races earlier Vuorinen had won a visiting side 5-1. Wolverton meanwhile made a winning start to their first ever campaign outside of the third tier, victories over Stepps at home (47-43) and at Sawley (44-46)—in which all of their top five picked up race wins—seeing the Wolves end the week in the top three of the standings behind Hailsham and Tooting, the latter winning at Lakeside, 44-46.
Howard Close’s defence of his British title is over, and with it his chances of GP qualification, after the Rugby world number seven finished ninth in his semi final at Wolverton, the meeting won by Sawley’s Colin Hague (13). World number ten Ben Hale (13) topped the standings in the second of the qualifiers at Hailsham, the 40 year old Lakeside star taking his career tally of WSO event wins into double figures as a result.
Rochdale’s first ever league meeting ended in a 41-48 home defeat to fellow rookies, Coleshill, however they recovered to win at another of the newcomers, Doncaster, 41-49, Steve Burton and Tom Hansen taking them over the line in the with a last heat 5-1.