Diamond Edition - ENHANCED
Mustangs hopes boosted with triple win
Houstonhave certainly wasted no time making an impact since they were allocated a spot in the British League less than four years ago. George Seymour’s side earning two promotions, three trophies and a spot in the European Cup in their first three seasons, this week they ensured European racing again for SL30, the holders reaching their second successive KO Cup final. It is their challenge in the league though that has impressed on-watcher's most, after a slow start to their debut top flight campaign the Mustangs have crept up the standings, the in-season additions of Craig Upton at reserve and the experienced Rob Greenwood at heat leader—who’s on loan from Tibthorpe—helping them become serious title contenders. After this weeks win at Stafford they lie a season high second, four points adrift of York who they play host to next week, a loss against the Vipers and it’s probably all over in their title bid, but not many would be counting them out just yet. Houston led from heat three to the finish at Stafford in picking up their third away win of the campaign, 42-48, Greenwood (12+1) racing to two wins and a paid win in a last heat decider behind Jonathan Huggett (12), Huggett himself took the chequered flag in front on four occasions, in all the visitors racing to ten of the 15 heat wins. The victory capped a great week for the Scottish side, they’d already qualified for the KO Cup final by beating Boston 51-39, double figure scores from Huggett (12) and Lenny Sloan (11+2) and 6+1 from Upton in the second leg helping them progress by four from the semi final tie as Boston’s bottom four scored just six between them.
After last season’s semi final home loss to Stafford fans of Warley were taking nothing for granted when they turned up to see them side face Doncaster in the second leg of their last four tie in this years competition. So despite leading by seven from the first leg the home side knew this wasn’t over yet, however any trepidation of what was to come was soon over, a nerveless workmanlike first five heats taking the Warriors ten up on the night and out of sight on aggregate. Robert Pappas (12+1) and Janne Turpeinen (6+2) did much of the damage to the visitors, scoring both a 5-1 and 4-2 in the opening third of the clash, and although Boston claimed three advantages of their own in the next six thanks to the use of tactical substitutes, the tie would be over as a contest by the end of heat 13. It’s a first ever final in the competition for Warley in their 21 year history, qualification also secures Adrian Heathcote’s side a long awaited European Cup debut in SL30.
With 30 appearances under his belt in SL29 Jeremenko Kirjakov has ridden in more league meetings this season for Pila than the previous six combined. And what a year it’s turning out to be for the 28 year old Russian, he’s upped his average in the European League by over two points to 9.96 and having qualified to the GP’s for the first time by winning the Continental Final, he this week won a round in the series in only his second appearance in it. A last heat win over Abdul Mattiasson (5) took him to 13 points in the main meeting, level with Boston’s Vlastimil Lidvin who’d just come off a run of four straight wins. A veteran of 22 GP’s Lidvin was looking to win his first, it was not to be for the home nation rider though, Kirjakov promptly out of the gate and in front coming out of the second bend, with his path blocked Lidvin lost pace and his prey was away and gone. Richard Coward (11) picked up third on the night after beating Krisztian Madar in a race-off, opening round winner Viktor Visek finished fifth, Visek now shares the lead of the series alongside Lidvin.
An away point and the bonus at Pitsea has boosted St Barts promotion chances, the sides who began the week separated by just points difference in third and fourth, may reside in the same positions but are now three points apart. David Grainger will be pleased with the return, but perhaps slightly disappointed his side didn’t claim a fourth away win of their division two campaign, Ben Snodin (14) gunning for a fifth straight heat win in the last, one which would have given his side victory, however he was beaten by Jacob Harvey (13), Pitsea gained a 4-2 and the scores finished level. The bonus point though St Barts, 89-91, a point that takes them to within one of leaders Timperley, who will host them on their next away league meeting. Elsewhere a draw for Heatherdale at Buxton helped them to move level on points with Pitsea in fifth, any one of the top five still firmly in reach of securing promotion this season.
In division three Dudley moved to within five points of claiming a promotion spot with still six meetings left to ride. A draw at Fenny Stratford taking Tim Foster’s Tigers eight clear of Midland in second and 14 better off than fourth placed Hawick, a last heat win for unheralded Brit’ Richard Lewis (12+1) clinching two of the three league points on offer for his side.