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YORK CHAMPIONS OF BRITAIN

Boston end Warley’s hopes

York rode their luck to become the 13th different winners of the British Speedway League Championship in a season in which the top five finishers in division one had all be looking to secure a maiden title win. With the likes of Beverley, Coventry and Stafford—who have 14 title successes between them—not even close to finishing in the top half of the table it has certainly been a year for the underdog, promoter at York, Dave Baker, will see it as a much needed changing of the guard, their fans will hope so, this only the club’s third trophy win in 29 years! What Baker didn’t want was to see the race go to the final day, their home meeting with Warley being a title decider a strong possibility heading into the penultimate round of fixtures. That it wasn’t was down to Boston adding to Warley’s dreadful home record in SL29 by beating the Warriors 42-48 at Shale Green Park, a fifth home loss for the side that had led the standings for half the season meant that York were confirmed as Champions and it didn’t take long for the news to filter through. Eerie cheers from the visiting fans went around the Riso just seconds after they’d lost their meeting with Stafford, a strange sensation with their defeat seeming condemning them to a nervous last day, but news of a heat 15 5-1 for Boston at Warley swiftly changed the mood of the Vipers contingent to first relief and then one of celebration. The biggest party was saved for the final day of the season when the Vipers riders showed off their new piece of silverware in front of all of their fans, a season they’ll capped with a 47-43 victory over Warley, their 18th win from 18 in the league in SL29 at Jorvic Park.

TODAY: Shorts

Boston’s win at Warley hugely significant in the title race but also in the determination of which side would take the remaining European Cup spot for next season. What was the Barracudas second away win in succession—also the only two recorded by the side in the league in SL29—put them in pole position to claim the place ahead of St Ives, and it’s a place they secured on the final day with a 53-37 home win over Doncaster. As a result Boston finish as runners-up in the standings to York having began the week in fifth!

 

Houston and Warley had already secured their participation in the SL30 European Cup by reaching the final of this season’s KO Cup, a final which Houston were huge favourites to win after their eight point first leg victory at Shale Green Park last week. They didn’t disappoint in the return, with four 4-2’s in the first seven doubling their aggregate lead at home and calming any thoughts that away specialists Warley would pull another one out of the bag on the road. A double change in heat eight gave the visitors a 5-1 and hope of a comeback, but Harry Sloan (14) and Branimir Klepp (7+1) snuffed that out for the Mustangs with maximum points in the next, from then on it was plain sailing for the hosts who secured their second success in the competition in as many seasons as early as Klepps victory in heat 12.

 

After last weeks dalliance with youth the GP podium once again became the domain of the experienced rider with Viktor Visek of Pskov dominating to win the Polish round in Krakow. A heat four second followed by four straight wins earning the 35 year old a winning tally of 14 points, which was also enough to take him to a first World Championship victory. He heads a Czech one two at the top of the standings with Boston veteran Vlastimi Lidvin taking second both on the night and overall, Lidvin beating last weeks winner Vladilen Bunin in a race-off which concluded this years championship. Vistek’s victory means that the last 15 World Champions have all been over 28 years of age at their time of their success, the last five all over 33.

 

Defeats on the road for the three sides that began the week in the promotion places in division two meant that the battle to secure top flight racing next season went into the final day. In theory any three from five could have still gone up, St Barts made sure they were one of the trio and would return after a year away as champions of the second tier by smashing East Kent, 65-25. Ben Snodin (15), Andreas Johnsen (14+1) and reserve Venedict Snodin (14+1) all scored maximums as the home side recorded their biggest ever league victory. Timperley’s points difference was already inferior so the title would not be for them, but a 48-42 win over Belham Road took them up from second spot, again one year after relegation. And it’s the same situation for Tibthorpe, relegated in SL28 they claiming third with a 49-41 win over Heatherdale, meaning Pitsea will remain in the second tier despite a final day Pirates’ victory at Buxton.

 

The three promoted sides from division two replace the already relegated duo Doncaster and Stafford, plus Monkston, who drop down following a final day 48-42 defeat at Coventry, who survive at their expense. John Hawke won a crucial last heat 5-1 for the hosts in the ‘six-pointer’. Stafford’s final meeting in the league after 26 years came at Beverley, no last hurrah for the five-times League Champions, they going down 47-43 at the Hellcats.

 

Stafford’s closure and that of three other clubs means no relegation from division two this season and four teams will be promoted from the third tier. Leading that quartet are Dudley who having secured promotion last week made sure of the title this with a 46-44 win over Redhill, a last heat 4-2 clinching the crucial three points from Tim Foster’s side. Crucial because Fort William were ready to pounce, they winning their last two meetings of the season, including at Fenny Stratford, 43-47, Midland took third, Sneyd Green fourth.

 

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