TIGERS ROAR TO SECOND TITLE
Totton seal success with Stourbridge win
Defending the league crown is considered the toughest of challenges in British speedway, but with a club record run of eight top flight wins to end the season Totton have successfully achieved that feat. Crossing the line with a 39-51 win at basement side Stourbridge the Tigers rounded of the campaign in style, their SL8 ever-present top trio of Miksa Mathe (15), Simon Snow (11+1) and Cameron Adams (12+1) all scoring in double figures as the Tigers made it nine away wins for the campaign, beating the club record of eight set in last season’s maiden title win. By adding one more each in the finale Mathe And Snow took their combined tally of maximums for the campaign to 12, the latter securing all three meeting points with a heat 14 victory over home tactical substitute Frantisek Adamcik (7+1), the travelling Tigers support were already celebrating the championship win, the necessary bonus point win having been achieved four races earlier when Snow took the chequered flag in front of Julian Woodruff. The title race had been a tight four-way affair for much of the campaign, Totton though found consistent form when it mattered, they picking up league points in each of their final 11 meetings, a run which began and ended against Stourbridge. Early season form from Gareth Walker at reserve helped get the Tigers up there, however a change in GSA’s saw those points dry up and their hopes of success looked to be fading. John Shuttler then turned backed to Anders Sten to provide some impetus to their challenge, the Swede recalled from Alfreton the wins began to roll in once again and the rest is now history.
A double league champion with Totton—a club who he’s ridden in 263 consecutive league meetings for—and now a double World Champion also, Cameron Adams adding to his SL4 success by topping the GP series standings in SL8. Victory in the opening round in Sweden had given the 34 year old Aussie the best of starts to his GP campaign, however having seen his title lead cut in successive meetings and then eventually overhauled by three-time defending World Champion Erich Lacina last week in Prague, it looked as though his chance had gone. Surprisingly though given his previous success Lacina was off the pace all evening in the decider, although having finished third in heat four he had a great chance of taking the initiative two races later when the two title protagonists met. It seemed to be advantage Lacina when Adams was shepherded wide and into the fence by Olcay Fugleberg, however the World Champion’s machine packed up just seconds later, neither would take any points from the encounter. The tables turned Adams’s way as his victory in heat ten was followed by a Lacina last on his second bike in heat 11, and although the Czech rider recovered to win heat 13, there would be no fourth title. Adams claimed his second straight win a race later, while he notched up a third after blasting around the outside of Lachlan Jackson in heat 18, the title his whatever Lacina did in the last. Epping’s Jacek Sokolowski (13) denied Adams the chance of the meeting win by taking all three points in heat 19, at 39 he became the oldest winner of a GP round.
Long Eaton’s ten point first leg advantage was never threatened by Belfast as the Rifles claimed their first victory in the KO Cup competition, Martin Smith’s side aggregate victors by eight over last years winners having led for much of the return in Ireland, Belfast’s consolation came with a last heat 5-1 which gave them a 46-44 meeting win.
Houston have competed at the top level in more season’s than any other club, however their ever-present eight year reign at the highest level has come to an end, a penultimate round home defeat to Long Eaton (42-48) giving Caversham a sniff of survival, which they grabbed by defeating Bradford at Bodhall 43-46 on the final day of the season, the win their first on the road of the campaign. The visitors shot out of the traps in the crunch meeting, the Swans picking up 5-1’s in the first two heats and led from then onwards, the vital three points secured with the minor places in heat 14.
There was always going to be huge disappointment for one team in the division two promotion race, a tight four-way battle going against Alfreton (56 points) in the end, who’d been in the top three for 32 of the previous 34 weeks of the season. They slipped out for the second time in SL8 with a 54-36 defeat at Herne Bay, and stayed there, the top flight places going to Epping (59), Brookwood (59) and Cranford (57). Bill Jones’s Stags return after one year away, they crowned second tier champions from Brookwood who end the season nine unbeaten, the Spitfires—last in division one in SL1—finished the campaign with a draw at Harringay. Like Epping Cranford were also relegated to this level last season, they pip Alfreton to third by a point, the Yellowjackets taking the bonus at Steeple as the Archers lost out on theirs against Epping on the final day. In division three Ernsford Grange took the final promotion place ahead of Finchampstead who they beat 52-38 on the final day of the season, the Jon Hardy promoted 56ers scoring three 5-1’s in the last six heats of the ‘winner-took-all’ meeting.
Totton’s juniors matched their senior counterparts by successfully defending their league title, the Tiger cubs—led by Marcus Gill (10.81Jnr)—topping the standings by five points from Bradford after beating Hallamshire home and away this week.