Jags underway with record win
Leedsopened their assault on the SL24 league title with their biggest ever top flight away win, the 35-54 success at Dudley also their biggest on the road in any division since SL2. Dudley’s first meeting at the highest level in their 16 year history was one to forget, a heat one engine blow up for Peter Carl (6) handed the Jags a 5-1, the visitors lead then doubled a race later by an Ekrem Muslic (13+2)/Dominic Bibi race maximum. Four race wins in the next five steadied the nerves of the Tigers’ fans and increased their expectations, an opening day rout though was what they got, with Leeds going on to dominate the latter stages of the clash of the two promoted sides. While Nathan Kay (14) led from the front it was 34 year old Muslic who brought up the rear, the £25,000 pre-season capture from Coalville taking the chequered flag in front in heat eight before beating Carl in winning a heat ten 5-1 ahead of Sam Weeks (8+1). Carl’s night went from bad to worse in heat 13, he excluded after a fall in that, and with Matteo De Feudis (10) failing to finish the re-run Leeds would secure the league points with two races to spare, Kay and Kim Cedergren (11+2) picking up the maximum five points unopposed. One away win for Leeds became two at Wimbledon (43-47) in the Division One Cup, while their first home meeting in the top flight for over a year ended in a 58-32 victory over Stowmarket to take them to the top of the standings, Muslic—who begins the season with a GSA of just 4.00 having averaged nearly eight the previous year—top scoring in that win with paid 16 from his six rides at reserve.
After a 100% winning record in pre-season Stowmarket were many peoples tips to take the league championship in SL24, those opinions were fast revised after an opening day home loss for the Witches, last years runners-up to Willenhall going down 44-46 against Eastbourne. Despite racing to just five wins in the first 14 heats and Jaroslaw Szyszko (11+1) suffering a fall in the 13th of those races to hand the hosts a 5-1, the Seagulls trailed by only two points heading into the last race of the meeting, where a 5-1 from Szyszko and Nate Stokes (11+1) would turn a two point deficit into a two point victory for the visitors. Joy in the Seagulls camp was short lived though, they defeated by 20 at Iwade in their Division One Cup opener before going down to a 43-47 defeat at home against Wimbledon, Cvetko Greiwe (10) winning that for the Werewolves with a heat 15 victory over the Stokes (16)/Szyszko (15+1) combo. What was the first ever league win at Wilmington Gardens for Marc Labrum’s side sees them end the week second on points difference in the standings to Leeds, Brickhill lie third having—like the top two—also won home and away. Iwade was the venue for the Tigers away success, 44-46, new signing at second string Andrey Spasskov (7) amongst the heat winners for Glenn Ford’s side on their first ever league visit to Old Gun Road.
League newcomers Runcorn (25) are into the second round of the Club Pairs Championship following an unlikely victory in their opening round tie at Gorleson, Lee Fuller (15) and Lubos Pinte (10) scoring three 5-1’s for Ade Heathcote’s Rockers in their six races as they took top spot in the standings of the qualifier ahead of Stowmarket (23) and Huntingdon (22). The top three from each of the four qualifiers ridden this week go through to next weeks semi finals, amongst those to be eliminated were top flight sides Iwade—who finished fourth in the meeting at Cork which was won by Willenhall (25)—and Cradley Heath, who made their exit at Ramsgate (26), the hosts impressive six point winners over Eastbourne and Brickhill in that tie. Leeds scored 26 points in winning the fourth of the qualifiers at Earley.
Gorleston didn’t top the division two table once last season despite missing out on promotion by just two points, the Ghosts are up there now though, they the only side to pick up on away point in the second tier in the opening two rounds of fixtures. That point was returned at Telford, where a last race 5-1 from Polish duo Piotr Rycak (16) Tomasz Jozwiak (11+2) ensured the meeting would end all square, Telford had led from heat two prior to the final heat reversal.
Kelso’s first away meeting at the third tier level in four years ended in a club record victory, the Kestrels new best on the road in division three set at Claygate, where the visitors scored five 5-1’s. Kasper Lustu (11+3) was involved in three of those maximums, the Dane second in the last two to Kestrels new £35,000 signing, Tibor Adamcik (13+1), who dropped just one point on the night. The top six all provided heat wins for the Scot’s, including Aussie reserve Lee Wills who impressed throughout, the 29 year old finishing with figures of 10+1 from five.