Regent Edition - ENHANCED
Division One sides in 1/4 final clean sweep
For the first time in the 25 year history of the competition all eight quarter-final places in the KO Cup have been taken by sides from division one. Some like Whitemoor, Newport Pagnell and New Forest—second round winners home and away—breezed past lower division opponents to make it into the last eight, others were made to fight right to the wire. Most notably Kent, with their 89-90 aggregate victory over Cambridge secured in the final race of the tie at the Cougars. Rafal Robakiewicz (10+1) picked up the winning point, he finishing third behind team mate Gary Stant (12) in heat 15 of the second leg meeting, Stant having ensured the visitors would lead going into the last by winning the previous race ahead of Arsen Zharkov (8). Kent’s reward is a last eight tie with another club that weren’t assured of their quarter-final spot until the last chequered flag of the night was waved, Lee Alty (12) and Kevin Dobinson (12+1) crossing the line second and third in heat 15 at Bolsover to send Pennsylvania through by four. Didsbury Village had looked favourites to cause an upset after holding hosts Rugby to just a 46-44 home first leg victory in their tie, and even more so after taking the aggregate lead with a 5-1 in heat two of the return. However the Gravediggers dominated the closing stages of the second half, they eventual winners by 12 on aggregate after scoring 5-1’s in three of the final six races, while both Valeri Elin (14+1) and Bryan Baah (15) finished the night with maximums to their name. Bridgwater and Chalvinton also did enough on the road to defend their first leg advantages and progress into the last eight of the competition.
Just one defeat in 14 in all competitions now for New Forest who end the first half of the season second in division one and just four points off top. The record seven times champions sit ominously poised behind Rugby who are looking to win the league title for the first time, history though is on the side of the Gravediggers with each of the last five pacesetters at this stage of the campaign going on to take the title. A great week for New Forest began at Colney Hatch, where Kristof Muller (13+2) and Stephen Charnock (16+1) 5-1’s in heats 11, 13 and 15 took them to only their third win at the venue in 23 attempts. At the other end of the table bottom side Kent pulled of a surprise 42-48 win at Glasshoughton with the help of race wins from all of their top five, the success was their first away from home in SL25 but their third in a row at the Gazelles’ Broomhill home. Earlier Kent had needed a last heat 5-1 to earn even a draw in their home fixture against Newport Pagnell, who claimed the aggregate bonus point by 26 to consolidate their position in third spot.
Seven British riders go into next weeks World Championship third round looking for spots in the newly extended eight round GP series. Amongst them are a trio of qualifiers from Whitemoor’s second round tie, Tom Powell (11), world number 11 Adam Schofield (10) and Mark Lyons (9) all qualifying through to the next stage following top eight finishes. The meeting was won by Prague’s world number seven, Fiske Piehl (12). Another European League rider in Durko Bocan (14) topped the final second round qualifier on his home Lublin circuit, the 24 year old finishing two points clear of Michael Edge (2nd) and Tamas Bukszegi (3rd). Following Terry Duffield’s withdrawal, Ben Sharman (2) was the only British rider in action, the veteran of ten GP rounds finished a disappointing 15th.
Netherton lost top spot in division two after their unbeaten run of five came to an abrupt halt with a home defeat to Sedgemoor. The promotion ‘six-pointer’ went the way of the visitors, 44-46, thanks to a last heat Karel Vlasak (13+2)/Mike Conlon (14) 4-2, both riders had been called in as tactical substitutes very early on in the meeting, the Heathens having led by 12 after heat four. 5-1’s won by Vlasak in heats 11 and 13 ultimately broke the resistance of the home side, who have now lost four of their last five against the Rebels in the league at their home venue. The result helped Oxford complete the first half of the season as division two leaders, Sedgemoor are up to second, Netherton drop to third. Nicely placed to make a second half challenge are Didsbury Village, a second away draw in three for them this week following their trip to Maldon, disappointing in the end though for the Vaqueros, they were on for their maiden away success of the campaign prior to the concession of heat 13 and 15 5-1’s to the hosts.
March’s run of six unbeaten in the league came to an end with a 48-42 defeat at bottom side Claygate. The division three leaders never really in contention for the points in a meeting dominated by home number one, Chris Webb (15). They did hold on though to take the bonus by two points, which ultimately keeps them ahead of Durham at the top.