BEARERS OF BAD NEWS
Jags toppled by league minnows
Leeds are on course to suffer only their second KO Cup opening round defeat in 16 years following a 14 point first leg loss at Claygate, the third tier minnows dominating this weeks clash between the pair, the Bears top six all contributing at least one heat win to the impressive victory over the former winners of the competition. Claygate’s KO Cup best remains their quarter final appearance in their debut campaign back in SL13, with their experienced heat leader trio currently enjoying something of a renaissance in their careers though that could be bettered this season, 38 year old Alex Trajkovski (12) is currently averaging over ten for the first time ever, while Ross Tait (11+2) and Aaran Christie (9+1) are achieving their best marks in over a decade. Trajkovski and Tait may have benefited from a bit of luck as they rode to a last heat 5-1 against Simone Alidori (11), the Leeds number one losing his team mate Pierangelo Guarino (8) to an exclusion, but overall the 52-38 victory was a deserved one for David Farr’s Bears, that heat maximum one of four in the meeting for the hosts, Gary Hughes (9+2) partnering Tait to two of the others, the fourth won by his fellow second string Ross Wharton. Elsewhere the top flight sides look safe from giant-killings, with the only other leading sides expected to make their exit next week those from the two all division one ties. They could go either way at the ‘half-time’ stage, Wimbledon winning their home first leg against Cradley Heath, 49-41, while Willenhall beat Gorleston by ten.
WU19 Champion Maurizio Giacomini will race in the British League after Coalville paid a signing on fee of £392,981 to the Italian, an eye-watering figure, but one still some £160,000 shy of that paid by Eastbourne to secure the signature of last years winner Vladimi Pelcis, who is currently struggling to attain a 3.00 point GSA on loan at Newport. Giacomini franked his under 19 form by winning his WU21 semi final in Cradley Heath this week, it certainly the easier of the two qualifiers, but after scoring 13 to take the meeting win from Brit’ Stewart Sharpe (12), Kings boss Alan Fellows will be breathing a sigh of relief. Verwood’s Miloslav Dorosh (14) dropped just a point on his way to victory in the Pskov semi final, last years runner-up Travis Foxman (12) the only rider to beat the Russian, however he was denied a maximum and overall victory when excluded from heat 13. Holder Stig Martinson was another to fail to finish all of his races, an engine failure costing him any points in heat one, he recovered to finish third on the night.
Eastbourne returned to the summit of division one after defeating previous leaders Cradley Heath 51-39 in the top of the table clash, reserve Paul Martin (9) amongst the heat winners in that, he also a key player in the Seagulls later four point win at Gorelston, a result which saw them maintain their points difference advantage over the Cobras. Martin finished second to fellow reserve Adam Jones in a heat two 5-1 at the Ghosts, one of two maximum returns for the visitors, the other a heat 11 success in which second string Ryan Palin (7+1) superbly got the better of home heat leader Matthew Rodden around the opening bend before going on to record a second successive race victory. The defeat leaves Gorleston without a win in six, and three points adrift at the bottom of the standings.
Back-to-back defeats have left Exeter in the division two relegation zone, having started the week fourth in the standings. The first loss came at home against Verwood, the side they replace in the bottom three, Bartosz Gorczca (15+2) starring for the Vipers as they overturned an eight point deficit to win by two, debutant Markus Kienzl (4+1) involved in the first of two successive 5-1’s scored by the visitors in the closing stages. Not so good at home for Verwood though, they suffering a shock defeat at Potterne Park to Kelso, a side who’d lost five in a row prior to this weeks meetings. Lee Wills scored a season best 10+2 at reserve for the Kestrels, his 5-1 with new signing Danny Watson in heat eight the middle in a decisive run of three such scores in succession for the visitors.
Claygate backed-up their KO Cup success with a second successive away victory in division three, their good run of form continuing at Canvey, where a last heat 4-2 won by Aaran Chrstie (12) ensured the Cruisers would end the first ten meetings of the season without a league point. The victory meanwhile takes the Bears to within a point of leaders Beverley, their unbeaten start to the campaign coming to an end at Torbay, where hosts number one Lubos Pinte (15) scored his first ever full British League maximum. Elsewhere fourth placed Glenholt were involved in two draws, they denied a win at Keswick by a last heat Crusaders 5-1, while at home they dropped a point to Torbay.