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STEPP CHANGE

Shocker as holders out after home loss

SL26 quintuple winners Beverley have gone out of the KO Cup in dramatic fashion, the holders defeated at home by a Stepps side currently in the division two relegation zone! However the visitors to Figham Road looked anything but underdogs as they stormed into a ten point lead in the meeting to all but wrap up victory in the tie with still six races to go, Serpent riders taking seven of the first nine heat wins in the return leg, with two of them resulting in 5-1’s. Both maximums were secured by loanee duo Wolfgang Sara (10+1) and Eero Oja (9+2), the partnership—combining assets of Stafford and Chiseldon—was defeated just once in the meeting, the two riders then went on to pick up wins in heats 12 and 14 in turn, with Sara’s success over Richard Coward (7) in the former securing the passage of Matt Barnard’s side through to the quarter finals. That result left the disappointing Coward without a heat victory in the meeting, his fellow heat leader Joshua Sky (7) faired little better, his sole win coming in heat 11 when Richard Karley (10) fluffed his lines at the gate. There was another shock at Weymouth where the top flight leaders made their exit against Bognor after the visitors picked up a stunning 42-48 second leg victory. The meeting started well enough for the Hitmen, 4-2’s in the opening two races wiping out their slender four point deficit early on, however Serpent riders won six of the next seven, Aarno Karjalainen (14) and Erkan Sahlin (13+1) both picking up two wins in the period, the pair would add further successes to the cause in heats 12 and 13, before completing a ten point aggregate win with a 5-1 in the last.

TODAY: Shorts

Timperley lost for the first time at home in SL27, and in spectacular fashion with league leaders Weymouth pulling off a 12 point victory. On the back of their cup loss it was a case of ‘blowing away the cobwebs’ for the Hitmen who returned to form with a bang, the bounce back led by a seventh maximum of the league campaign for Linus Music (15), although he was pushed for ‘rider of the night’ by second string Pietro Lopetuso—signed towards the end of SL26 for just £12,000—who raced to three wins in a career best tally of 12+1. In all the Pelicans were limited to just three heat victories by Weymouth, who end the first half of the season four points clear of Beverley at the top of the division one standings. Elsewhere a run of 13 consecutive league wins at Jorvic Park for York was brought to an end by Tibthrope, the local derby ending all square despite home number one Tomasz Skrzpek (15) scoring a maximum and a ten point contribution from second string Alexander Gill. That closed the curtain on a disappointing week for York, who exited the KO Cup by six against Timperley, who progress to face Coventry in the only all top-flight tie of the quarter finals.

 

Any signs that Stepps were about to pull of a great cup shock were hard to find when they entertained St Barts at the start of the week, the hosts conceding two 5-1’s in the opening three races in going ten behind in the battle of the second tier strugglers. The visitors lead had hit 12 by the end of heat ten, but they almost threw their advantage away, Kai Niemi (7)—who’d picked up two wins earlier—on the wrong end of a 5-1 in heat 12, while another maximum went the Serpents way in the next. However second string Joeri Varivonchik (8+1) and reserve Ben Snodin (9+1) ensured a second St Barts away win of the campaign with their side’s third 5-1 of the meeting in the penultimate race, the eventual 44-46 victory helping take them to move within three points of the promotion places at the halfway point of the season. Still leading the way in the race to the top flight are Warley (34 points) and Houston (31), they extended their advantage over fourth placed Monkston to nine and six points respectively after ending the first half of SL27 with away wins, Warley’s retuned at the Monkeys, 39-51.

 

They’ve shared the lead of division three between them in recent weeks, however of the two sides it was Belham Road that had the look of champions about them when they made their first trip of the campaign to Bury. The meeting resulted in the Aces third win of their three visits to the venue, the turning point of a tight contest a heat 12 Martin Hlinka (13)/Jeremy Garrison (6+1) 5-1, now five in front the Dave Lewis side eased to a 43-46 success. What was Bury’s first home defeat of the campaign leaves them down in fourth, the Aces finish the week three points clear of Redhill—who picked up two away points for a draw at Buxton—at the top.

 

Doncaster’s Piotr Kucz (14) claimed his first career WSO event win this week, 13 years after finishing on the podium in the WU21 final as a 19 year old! The Pole topped the Continental semi final standings in Lublin by a point from Tomasz Skrzypek. Pskov’s world number 12 Martin Arst (14) was the winner of the second semi final in Gyor.

 

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