Diamond Edition - ENHANCED
Ruthless Ravens stun Pirates
A spell of four 5-1’s in seven heats earned Tibthorpe a dramatic double figure success at St Ives this week, trailing their hosts after heat six the stunning sequence of results taking the Ravens to their second successive away league victory with two races to spare. The way St Ives capitulated suggests their return season in the top flight after two years away will be a difficult one, Darren Stevens and Russell Bulman outclassed by their opposite numbers in the top four as their struggle in stepping back up to the highest level continues. Bullman averaged 6.24 in division three last season, however the Brit’s current loan spell is only benefiting parent club Beverley, the 26 year old likely to have a GSA of below four at the end of the next two league rounds, he failed to score in three rides against the Ravens. Stevens meanwhile averaged less than six in the Pirates last top flight campaign but begins this one with a mark of 8.66, one so far he’s failing to live up to against higher standard opponents, the home side’s second heat leader won just one of his five races against Tibthorpe, scoring just seven. For the visitors Michael Curran (15) bagged his second full maximum of the season, Ravens boss Kathyrn Baker though will be concerned about the Aussie’s lack of consistency, her number one having scored in single figures in each of the side’s other four competitive meetings. Backing up Curran was Soren Kure (11) who alongside his second string Svenne Gregersen (7+2) scored two of the four 5-1’s which turned the meeting the Ravens way, while the always reliable Dean Newton chipped in with four second places.
It’s now three straight league wins for Tibthorpe since their opening day home defeat, results which franks the form of the only side to beat them, Beverley. The Hellcats top the table from the Ravens by a point, they the only unbeaten side after four rounds, although they had to fight hard to keep that record intact at Timperley. A draw the result in a meeting in which both side’s had their chances, the Pelicans twice going six up only to be pegged back by visiting side tactical substitutes—extra rides from Joshua Sky (7) and Henrik Kojefors (14+2) in heat eight and then Richard Coward (12+1) in heat 11 earning their side 5-1’s in each—while Beverley held a brief lead themselves after Colin Richardson’s (6+2) engine packed up in heat 12 to hand them a third 5-1 and a two point advantage. Brief because Vladimir Helbich (13) made it three wins from four in a heat 13 4-2, and although Paul Pilcher (10+1) and Helbich won the last two, Beverley riders packed in the minor places to leave the final scores tied.
Markus Innanen scored an unbeaten 18 as Stafford’s (21) defence to their Pairs crown got underway at St Barts, however it was far from an impressive showing from the Angels as they seek their sixth victory in the competition in ten years, Innanen’s new partner—Steve Kirkwood—running in four last places, although their only heat advantages were returned against Peckleton (22), who qualified through as runners-up, and Midland (19) who sneaked into next weeks final as the highest scoring fourth placed side. Beverley’s (23) Henrik Kojefors and Joshua Sky won the meeting with a run of three 5-1’s in their final four races, they could even afford an exclusion for Kojefors after a fall in heat 14. Meanwhile after a first round win Weymouth (25) impressed again, albeit on their own track in the semi final, their two point margin of victory over Bognor (23)—Houston qualified a further five back in third—would have been even greater if Davide Matteini hadn’t retired from the lead of heat 15 against the Boxers’ Rustem Fakrutdinov and Erkan Sahlin, the Italian won four of his other five races, while his team mate Linus Muscic—who is averaging over 11 in the league—was beaten just once by an opponent all meeting.
World number two John Hawke (15) eased through to British Final for the fourth year in a row by scoring a maximum in the qualifier at Witham, the Coventry star topping the standings by four points from Ben Walsh. Fellow SL26 GP rider Kevin Bullock (8) kept his SL27 world championship hopes alive with a point in the final race of the night, he qualifying through in seventh, as did world number ten Richard Coward (8) in the second of the semi finals in Bury, a meeting won by York’s youngster, Alexander Gill (11).
At the end of the first month of racing Midland are the only side to hold a 100% league record, the division two leaders making in four wins out of four on their trip to Fenny Stratford, the Pristines rounding off a 38-52 victory with Claes Ardenfors (13+1)/Rob Greenwood (13+1) heat 13 and 15 5-1’s, the side’s third and four maximums of the meeting. Monkston lie second in the standings following a 43-47 victory at Stepps, remarkably completed with just four heat wins from the visiting septet!