UP FOR THE CUP
Clean sweep in KOC for sports top sides
For only the second time in the competition’s 26 year history all ten top flight sides have made it through to the last 16 in the KO Cup, and not one was taken to a last heat decider in the opening ties. Including Cradley Heath, slender 89-91 aggregate winners over division two promotion contenders Dudley, the Cobras sealing their spot in round two with a race to spare at their West Midlands rivals when home reserve Ben Clements fell on the final lap of heat 14. Russian teen Yerik Pavlovsky finished third in the clincher to cap a great night for the team and himself, his paid 11 score a career best, and a much needed contribution from the rider who was valued at around £400,000 when he made his pre-season switch to the Cobras. Cradley have been paired with Iwade in the last 16, the Colts—who like their next opponents have never been passed the quarter finals of the competition—defeating Plymouth by 18 on aggregate in round one after earning a draw in Devon this week. That is one of three all division one ties in the second round, in the others last years runners-up Huntingdon take on Leeds, while New Way will need to beat Wimbledon if they are to reach round three for the first time. The only second round tie not to feature a top flight club pits division two high flyers Derby with third tier strugglers Kelso, on paper that an excellent opportunity for the Bucks—whose six point first round win over Burnham was only their second ever KO Cup tie win—to reach the last 16 for the first time. Third division sides Bolsover and Earley have been drawn against Verwood and Stowmarket respectively.
Jonathan Fox (13) rolled back the years to win the British title for a second time, his victory in this weeks final coming 12 seasons after his first success. The 36 year old hadn’t won any World Championship meeting since the SL14 victory, despite qualifying for the GP series twice in later years. That will be the goal again for the Bradwell rider, who topped the podium at Huntingdon following a race-off win over last years winner and current world number two, Nathan Kay. Mark Jolly (10) took third after beating Aaron Macaulay in another unscheduled race, Macaulay failed to win any of his six heats in the meeting. Two of last years GP riders head out of the World Championship following the final, both Ronnell Hawtin (5) and Matthew McGowan (2) failing to finish in a top eight berth necessary to progress to the Overseas stage. In the other half of the draw there was success for Pori’s Steve Johnson, who recovered from a third place finish in heat three by winning his next four in Richmond to take the Pacific title ahead of Paul Hope (11) and last years winner Travis Foxman (10).
Coalville extended their unbeaten league run to five meetings but squandered the chance to go top of division one after missing out on all three points at Huntingdon. The Kings were heading for their second away league win after going eight up in the first three races at Steeple Stadium, but the meeting ended all-square following a tactical substitute aided comeback by the hosts, with both Anton Kihlstedt (10) and Roman Korbel (14) winning their extra races, the latter doing so in a heat 12 5-1 alongside Magnus Farnerud (8+1). It was a disappointing result for the Kings and one which leaves them a point off Leeds at the top, but unsurprising given their riders won just two of the final 12 races. The point for Huntingdon is their only one from their last eight meetings, they remain bottom of division one, some seven points off safety as we hit the one-third mark of the season. Cradley also remain in the relegation zone after failing to win their latest home meeting, Verwood grabbing a draw at the Cobras thanks largely to a heat 14 5-1 from Cerek Ostrowski (6+2) and reserve Marek Ivanov (7+2).
With both sides leading on two separate occasions and neither by more than four points, a draw perhaps the right result when Bradwell played hosts to Derby this week. Slightly disappointing for the visitors who had been looking to move level with division two leaders Brickhill with a victory against the side that sit bottom of the standings, however a heat 14 win from new £50,000 signing Robin Wall on debut turned proceedings against the Bucks, a 4-2 conceded there and in heat 15 by the visitors as Andreas Magnus (11) finished last in the decider despite having dropped just one point from his previous four outings to the track. In division three Plymouth were the only side to pick up an away point this week, and having scored three 5-1’s in the first 12 races at Claygate it perhaps should have been all three for the Centurions, however the Bears recovered to take a point from the meeting with two 4-2’s and a 5-1 in the final three races. The visitors though had the last laugh, Kenny Dornan (11) beating Gary Hughes (15+2) in a race-off for the bonus point.