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York take title in dramatic finale

York have been crowned League Champions for the second successive season after a dramatic final two rounds of racing. Points difference alone separated the Vipers from St Ives at the top of the final standings, the Pirates cruelly denied a first title when their final day meeting at Coventry ended in a draw. Heartbreak for the visiting support at Diamond Park with John Hawke and Hayden Baker scoring a last heat 5-1 for the hosts, St Ives had led for 11 of the previous 14 heats in the crunch meeting. Coventry’s superior firepower told in the end, you don’t lose many meetings when racing to 11 heat victories. Up the M1 in York the Vipers were completing their 18th home victory of the campaign, they matching their perfect record of SL29 at Jorvic Park with a 55-35 demolition of Beverley. Any win would have put pressure on St Ives, but Dave Baker knew they would probably need the bonus point too if they were to stand any chance of securing back-to-back league titles, a second 5-1 in as many races from the hosts in heat 14 ensuring they would take all three points from the meeting. Fans in the stadium now firmly had one eye on the TV screens in the bars, their side had done their bit, they were now waiting on the St Ives result. Heat 15 was still in progress at Jorvic Park when huge cheers began to ring out, the huge favour bestowed on them by Coventry had got the celebrations underway. In topping the table York become the first side to successfully defend the title in ten years and only the third to do so in the history of the sport. Can they now make it an unprecedented three in a row?

TODAY: Shorts

Coventry’s habit of scoring dramatic last heat 5-1’s was again on show as they completed a record breaking fifth KO Cup success. The aggregate scores in the SL30 final with Boston were tied going into the last race of the return leg at Diamond Park, and with Vlastimil Lidvin (13+1) and Paul Pilcher (10) to come the Barracudas had every chance of taking their first trophy. John Hawke (14) and Hayden Baker (12+2) shut down those hopes from the off, earlier defeats by Lidvin for both on the night forgotten as they left their main rival no room coming out of the first and second bends, the Czech rider couldn’t recover his speed in time and the Crusaders pair were away. 5-1, Coventry end the year with two trophies—the other the Division One Cup—having not won a competition in the previous five seasons.

 

Nine points in Krakow was enough to see Joshua Sky this week became America’s fifth World Champion. The SL30 crown went the way of the 29 year old Beverley star by a point from outgoing champ, Viktor Visek (10), whose heat 17 win in the Polish GP left Sky needing just not to finish last in his final race. Sky gated in third two races later and was more than happy to stay in that position, and Marek Siadaczka showed no inclination he was about to challenge for it. Still a nervous four laps as he completed his deserved World Championship success. Just the silver medal for Visek this time despite being the only rider in the field to score in double figures in each of the five Grand Prix, third overall went to Coventry’s John Hawke, he the highest placed English rider since he himself finished as World Championship runner-up in SL26.

 

Beverley’s run of 12 successive season’s in the top flight has come to an end after they were relegated this week. Champions in SL21, 26 and 28, the Hellcats lost out in the survival battle after slipping below Houston on the final day. The Mustangs took the maximum three points from their home fixture against St Barts, 57-33, with the Hellcats of course losing at York by 20, a result which had even great consequences at the top of the table.

 

The promotion places in division two were all wrapped up prior to the final two rounds of racing leaving the small matter of the title to be decided this week. As expected Monkston got the two points they required to gain their second success at this level, Andy Roughton’s side beating Midland 51-39. That was the side’s 18th league victory from 18 at home in SL30. Meanwhile East Goscote were relegated back to division three after two seasons away.

 

A final day win at Witham ensured the division three title for Peckleton in their first season back in the sport. The Raiders top the standings from Stowmarket, however the in-form Hawks will not be promoted, with the club earmarked for closure. That’s good news at least for Brighton, who recently dropped out of the top three having been in the promotion places for the first 32 weeks of the season, they go up from fourth, Sawley do so from third.

 

Poland have won the International League for the first time thanks to a 39-51 win in Russia this week. The Dave Baker managed side top the final standings from the Russians on points difference.

 

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