Diamond Edition - ENHANCED
BRIDGING THE GAP
American’s win take Hellcats to third title
Beverleycan now count themselves amongst an elite group of four that have won three League Championship titles or more after they clinched the SL28 edition on the final day of the season. A win in the 539th of a 540 race campaign secured Steve Baker’s Hellcats the three league points they required to shake off a resilient St Ives, who’d taken the battle into the final round of meetings by beating Tibthorpe 44-46 on the road. The Pirates fourth away win of the second half of the campaign and their second in succession briefly gave Nick Ward’s side the edge in the title race over the long-time leaders, however at Timperley the Hellcats would fight back from six down to snatch a draw in the penultimate round meeting, that extra point giving Beverley the advantage going into the final day. Still they needed three more from their fixture with Coventry to be sure of success, and to get all three they needed a four point win or greater. Heat wins in each of the first four which brought about three 4-2’s looked to have set them up nicely, the Crusaders weren’t about to let them off easy though, that’s not in their nature, three successes in the next four from their riders helping the visitors move back to within two of their hosts. Richard Coward (13) and Matt Bridge (6+2) calmed the nerves with maximum points in heat nine, while the situation improved greatly with another 5-1 in heat 13, just three more race points required now for the title. Bridge got those by beating Patrik Gajser to the race victory in heat 14, celebrating of what had becoming a quadruple winning season could now begin in earnest.
Houston beat holders Stafford in dramatic fashion to become the first club outside of the top flight to win the KO Cup in 19 years! A last heat Jonathan Huggett (14)/Valerio Perone (10+1) 5-1 over John Bingley (10+1) and George King (6+2) in their home second leg secured the Mustangs a two point aggregate victory in the final, the Mustangs had not led in the tie up until that stage. Earlier on in the night the Angels had increased their advantage to six with a George King and Mark Austin 5-1 in heat five, the same pairing ensured that would be the situation heading in the final four races when scoring a 4-2 in heat 11. Houston riders though won each of the last quartet of races, Perrone crucially beating Bingley in a tight affair in heat 14 to give the George Seymour’s side—who hadn’t even won a tie in the competition prior to this year—a shot of success heading into the last, which they grabbed with both hands.
It’s taken 28 years but at last Poland have a World Champion. Where the likes of Rodo Jonca and Merek Czapla failed, Tomasz Skrzpek has succeeded, last years World Number five topping the SL28 GP series standings by two points despite not winning a round! In fact a win in this years national final plus success in a WU21 semi final way back in SL15 remain the only two WSO events the now 33 year old has won, meaning the York rider becomes the most unlikeliest of champions in a season in which the least inconsistent rider has won the day. Nine points in Krakow was enough for Skrzypek to take the title, the runner-up in both the Danish and British rounds ensuring success with a second place finish to Ales Skaper in heat 18. Kristian Madar took the silver medal after finishing third in a race-off for the GP win behind Pori’s Abdul Mattiasson and Skaper, Madar moving above Henrik Kojefors in the overall standings after the out-going champion scored just five in Poland.
Boston got the point they required—and two more besides—to secure promotion to the top flight when they took on relegated Hawick (55-35) at home. The long-time leaders though did miss out on the second tier championship, newly crowned KO Cup winners Houston claimed that on the final day with a six point victory at Hawick. Doncaster picked up the third promotion place ahead of Heatherdale by a point, a final day bonus point win over Belham Road enough for the Riverhogs, who’d earlier earned a crucial draw at Chiseldon with a last heat 5-1, a 4-2 against in that and the Heathens would now have been celebrating a top three finish.
A penultimate round home win over second placed Pitsea earned Buxton a spot in the top three of division three for the first time this season. And they would stay there, victory at Bury by two on the final day seeing to that. SL28 Bandit’s ever-presents Danny Halpin (12+1) and Petr Hlavnovsky (12+1) earned Martin Harvey’s side the promotion clinching win by scoring a last heat 4-2. Fort William would finish fourth having led the way for 14 weeks of the season, a 46-44 defeat at third tier champions East Goscote leaving promotion out of their hands heading into the final day’s meetings.
Tibthorpe’s battle against relegation after seven years in the top flight ended with a 14 point defeat at Warley. The writing was on the wall for the Ravens, who’d earlier lost at home to St Ives, leaving Monkston needing any size of win on the final day against St Barts—they won by nine—to be certain of staying up. St Barts had hoped to go into that meeting with a chance of survival themselves, a home defeat to Warley in round 35 though had sealed their relegation fate. Midland were relegated from the second tier after East Kent won at bottom side Fenny Stratford at home to secure their own safety in the division.
Home and away wins over Doncaster secured Beverley’s juniors their second league title in as many seasons, as in the senior equivalent St Ives finished ‘best of the rest’.