American takes Panthers to Pairs win
A third successive win in the Club Pairs for a second division side with Altrincham taking the silverware in the SL21 edition at Laceby. The Panthers sat two points adrift of Sankey in a three-way tie for second spot at the two-thirds mark of the final, before pulling away to win with 5-1’s over St Peters and Ramsgate. Represented by loanee Liam Marlow (13) and world number five Douglas Fread (11) they had plenty of boxes ticked as they went for their first competition win outside of the divisional cup, experience on the one hand with Marlow who’d already lifted the trophy twice with two different clubs, while double-American Champion Fread has proven he has the ability to surpass his partner’s success on the world stage several times despite being just 22. The two youngest winners of a GP round ever began their challenge with maximum points over London, Fread joining his team mate at the front with a sublime pass on Sanel Tiganj down the back straight of lap three. And it was Fread’s fighting spirit which ensured Altrincham ended the night with the trophy, for Marlow may have been making gate after gate, but it was the American who was made to work the hardest. First by Declan Christie in heat 17, who surprisingly kept Fread behind for a full four laps before eventually succumbing to a final dive on the inside as the finishing line closed in. In heat 20 it was Alex Marini to block the way, the two riders battling for second spot right to the wire, the position changing hands three times but Fread was in front when it mattered. And it mattered, Altrincham topping the final standings by just a point.
A third league victory in five at St Peters saw Don Valley extend their winning start to the season in all competitions to eight meetings. Only once before have the Vipers won their first six league meetings of the campaign, that back in SL9 when they went on to win nine in a row on their way to scoring an all-time British record of 75 league points. Remarkably their latest victory came without SL18 WU19 and 21 Champion David Johnson in the line-up, the Australian a tactical absentee as promoter Matt Akers took the opportunity to allow the rider to maintain his 5.42 start of season GSA and his role at second string for the next six meetings. He had been averaging more than two points in excess of that mark. Liam Doherty replaced him in the top five and was one of six race winners as Don Valley took the points, 40-50, the teenager’s victory over Jack Maynard in heat 14 securing his side victory and with it a four point lead at the head of the division one standings.
No joy however for Liam Doherty in the BU21 Final at Altrincham with the youngster finishing last after scoring just two points. The meeting was won for the second year in succession by Ramsgate’s Joseph Wall, who scored 13 points to top the standings by a point from £325,000 Brighton pre-season buy, Chris Carver. Meanwhile Oslo breakout star Jayden Bailey (15) scored a maximum to win the WU19 Championship on his own track, the 17 year old New Zealander—who averaged 4.69 in his first six meetings with his debut club—finishing clear of team mate Erlend Aspen (13) and Pila’s Hans Bissen (12). Chris Carver (8) finished best of the two Brits in action in seventh.
Newly promoted London end the week top of the division two table for the first time after recovering from a heat one 5-1 reversal to beat Buxton 53-37. Veteran Ben French returned to the side at reserve where he scored paid ten, he having missed the side’s earlier trip to Medeswell. That however didn’t prevent the Jaguars picking up their first away points of the campaign at the Magic, 42-48, they leading from heat two to the finish, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (12+2) securing the points with a last heat win over Toni Ylonen (11+1) and the previously unbeaten Robin Hudson (15). The defeat and later loss at Denaby, 54-36, leaves Medeswell still looking for their first point since their own promotion from division three. Denaby proceeded their success over the Magic with an away win of their own, a 42-48 victory for the Devils returned at Bolsover, where guest rider Rudolf Svatek (11+1) secured the points for the visitors with a heat 14 win over tactical substitute Brendan Jeffrey (16). That was the first of two home defeats for Bolsover in the week, with California also winning on the circuit, this time in the Division Two Cup. The Poppies—who have made three previous semi-final appearances but have yet to reach the final—big favourites to reach the last four once again following the 43-47 win, achieved as their riders raced to ten heat victories in the first 13 races.
Away points still hard to come by in division three with just one achieved by the collective ten this week. New leaders Gateshead picked that up at Liden, with the early season top of the table clash ending all-square as the visitors recovered from eight down points down with a run of six heat wins in the last eight races.