Diamond Edition - ENHANCED
Pirates take early lead in title race
St Ivescouldn’t have come closer without actually winning the league title in each of the last two seasons. The Pirates finishing as runners-up to first York and then Coventry, that despite leading the standings heading into the final rounds of racing in both campaigns. Nick Ward will be preying his side can go one better in SL32, and their chance of making a winning start in their bid for a title was boosted by a fixture list which set them going at top flight debutants Sneyd Green. However the Rockets proved to be no pushovers, led by Davide Matteini (12) and boosted by the pre-season arrival of astute signing at second string Tore Olav Hjedle (9+1), the hosts more than held their own in the early stages of the clash, they deservedly going six up when a fall from World Under 21 Champion Nalek Walczak (4) handed them a 4-2 in heat ten. Ward now had the option of a tactical substitute which he used immediately, sending his number one Marek Siadaczka (9+1) into heat 11 to join Bosko Brezic (13). Matteini managed to spilt the pair to limit the damage to a 4-2 against, not a bad result considering, what happened in heat 12 was. The hosts on the wrong end of a 5-1 this time, and it wasn’t their opposition’s top men to do the damage but second string Igor Dedura (7+1) and reserve Kent Hansen (9+3). With the scores now level Sneyd Green could have capitulated from that point onwards, but they would take the meeting down to the last, in fact they’d regained the advantage going into the decider. But St Ives had this covered, or more accurately Brezic and Siadaczka did, this time the top two taking a 5-1, the Pirates a 44-46 victory.
St Ives strong start in the league wasn’t replicated in the Pairs with the Pirates exciting at the first round stage of the competition for the second successive season. Both they and fellow top flight outfit York missed out on the necessary top three spot at Nottingham, where Blackpool’s Miloslav Ivanoff (13) and Davide Natali (10) topped the standings from the pairings of the hosts and Pitsea. The other three first round ties were all won by top flight sides, impressing most were Houston’s Harry Sloan (15) and Darren Stevens who scored five 5-1’s from their six races in winning the meeting at Liden by a clear eight points. Runners-up Midland were the only side to take points off the Mustangs on the night, Liden qualified through in third but will do well to reach the final. Likewise Witham who sneaked through to round two thanks to home advantage at the expense of top flight Warley, the Warriors out after finishing fourth to meeting winning Fort William (24), Bury and the Blacksmiths. One of the favourites to lift the trophy, Boston (27), meanwhile made a winning start to the competition, Valstimil Lidvin (18) scoring a six ride maximum as he and Wolfgang Sara (9) topped the standings on their own track from Timperley and East Goscote.
Things only got better for the re-badged Blackpool side after being held to a home league draw by Brighton on the opening day. As well as winning at Nottingham in the Pairs, the Dave Hood ‘second-string’ went on to win away from home in two further competitive fixtures, beating Timperley 43-47 in the Division Two Cup thanks to a last heat Miloslav Ivanoff (15) winning 5-1, before smashing St Barts 35-55 at the Cemetery. It’s a margin of victory that will remain in the Blaze’s record books for some time one would expect, the win returned with the help of a maximum from Ivanoff (15), plus a paid 14 from his Pairs partner, Davide Natali. It was a dreadful start to the season for St Barts, who also suffered a 43-47 home defeat to Witham in the Division Two Cup. Four points was also the margin of success in the competition for Doncaster, who won at Peckleton with the help of three 5-1’s contributed by six different riders.
East Gostcote fought back from eight down after heat ten to win at East Kent to top the division three standings. Three late 5-1’s saw the Gunners to the 42-48 victory, Rob Greenwood (11+1) and £150,000 new boy Jeremenko Kirjakov (12) scoring the crucial one in the decider, which followed a maximum won by reserve Tyler Holder (6) in the penultimate heat. Tom Dilkes side lead the way from Bury on points difference, the Buccaneers having won at Redhill by the same six point margin, a heat 14 win for reserve Slane Ficek (7+1) taking them over the line. Bury also enjoyed an away success in the Division Three Cup—44-46 at Bridgwater—as did Sawley, two point winners at Redhill.
Beverley’s Samuel Strickland (14) added to his success in the BU19 semi-finals with victory at the same stage of the BU21 championship this week. He topped the standings in the tie at Houston, East Kent’s Callum Gregory (14) the winner of the second semi-final in Peckleton after a race-off victory over Stuart Goodman.