Regent Edition - ENHANCED
Hoover stars in Baboons Pairs success
A new name on the Club Pairs trophy with Bridgwater winning the competition for the first time in their nine year history. And first time wins to for the Baboons representatives Bernd Hoover (18) and Odell Espeseth (9), the former becoming only the fifth rider in 29 years to score a maximum in the final. Having topped the standings in both their qualifying rounds, Steven Potter’s duo were marked out as the ones to beat at Netherton, but there were no signs of the pressure that comes with being favourites, with the two quickly into their stride, racing to 5-1’s over Wilmington in heat four and then Whitemoor two races later. A dropped point, but only one, when they came up against winners of the other semi-final, Chalvington, Espeseth beaten in heat ten by Per Dalberg. And third only for Espeseth again in heats 14 and 17, importantly it was Ruby’s Valeri Elin that prevented him taking second in the latter, the result leaving the Gravediggers still in contention, if only just. Hoover though had won five out of five, making it six from six would confirm Bridgwater’s success in heat 19. Newport Pagnell duo Andy James—the four-time World Champion surprisingly still looking for his own maiden Pairs win—and Deniz Rask had little to ride for, and not even pride was enough to see them compete against Hoover and Espeseth, the current two-time World Champion sprinted away to his sixth win of the night and his partner followed him home, a third 5-1, their combined score on to an unbeatable 27 points, the second highest ever in the final of the competition. Rugby returned to the track to score their third 5-1 of the night a race later, with it the runners-up spot assured, a fourth podium in a competition they have still yet to win.
It’s that tight in division one that a defeat for Whitemoor at Bridgwater could have seen them end the week in the relegation zone. However the meeting finished all-square and the Witches lie second in the standings to Sedgemoor, with visiting promoter Trevor Walker ruing the fact that his side couldn’t build from the base given to them by the three 5-1’s they scored in the opening seven races. Terry Duffield (9+1) and Anton Zontar (11+2) raced to two of those, reserves Eugeny Kolesnikov (7+3) and Urjasz Gorski (3+2) the other as they looked to take full advantage of the absence of heat leader Odell Espeseth from the Baboons side. They were unable to add to the victory recorded at the venue last year however, wins for tactical substitutes Bernd Hoover (18) and Joshua Russell (11+1) steadied the ship for the under-strength hosts—both resulted in 5-1’s for them—and although they never led in the meeting, they had enough to at least take a point, Hoover and Russell seeing to that when earning a 5-1 and a 4-2 in two of the closing three heats. Going forward Espeseth retains his 7.74 GSA having averaged 9.17 in the opening period of the season, while Mario Gottardi (9.09 CMA) also retains his opening season mark of 7.47 for the Baboons having missed the 37-53 defeat at Cambridge. For Whitemoor, Kolesnikov—an £80,000 pre-season signing from Bolsover—has seen his GSA increase from 3.00 to 5.50, 18 year old Pole Urjasz Gorski, who joined from Oxford for the same fee, does though retain his bargain 3.00 point mark for the next six meetings, coincidentally he missed the Witches own trip to Cambridge.
Such is the strength in depth in the new look lower order at Whitemoor that Alfie Marsden (13) is struggling to get a regular spot in the team. The £85,000 signing from Nottingham has certainly made his promoter take note though, with a fantastic performance in this weeks final at Rugby taking him to victory in the BU21 Championship. The 19 year old recovered from an opening heat defeat to SL25 Champion Henry Simmons (13) and Adam Eaton (7) to win his next five, the fifth being in a race-off for the title where this time he got the better of Simmons. Darren Spencer (12) had been on course to better the scoring of both and to make a successful defence of his title, however the SL26 winner could not add to the 12 points he scored in his first four races in heat 18, finishing last in a contest won by Marsden. Marsden’s victory was his first in a WSO meeting in nine attempts, his previous best finish was fifth in a BU19 qualifier on his WSO debut back in SL24.
Smethwick’s unbeaten start to the new league season was ended by Nottingham. The Red Dogs holding on for a 46-44 home win in a meeting they had led in by six. More concerning for the Meerkats however was that they were held to a home draw by New Forest in their later division two clash, this time they unable to hold on to an eight point advantage, conceding 5-1’s to second string Ashley Arnold and Stephen Charnock (10+3) in heat 12, and then to Dominic Little (15) and Charnock a race later. Bolsover’s home meeting with Netherton also ended all-square, reserve Harry Short (8) winning a crucial heat 14 5-1 for the Heathens as they too fought back from eight down to level the meeting.