Top three dominate as Wolves claim KOC
Willenhallhave won the KO Cup for the second time in five years, the Wolves defeating Telford 51-39 in their home second leg of the final to complete a ten point aggregate victory. Willenhall’s top three dominated their opposite numbers on a night when the hosts raced to 13 of the 15 heat wins, five going the way of the unbeaten Aaron Macaulay (15), three apiece to fellow heats leaders Mark Butcher (13+1) and Ronnell Hawtin (9). Butcher’s contribution was his second highest in a meeting this season, Jacek Grad (8+1) the only Thunder team member to defeat the 25 year old in the clash, his heat 12 victory the first for Telford on the night. Ironically their second came two races later in a heat in which the Wolves confirmed the silverware, the ‘killer-blow’ a second place finish from Karel Penner! Telford’s hopes of success were pretty much over after the first two races, the Wolves storming into a six point aggregate lead with 5-1’s in heats one and two, Macaulay partnering Matthew Joyce to a maximum in the opener, while in the reserve race Danny Daniel won a terrific scrap with first leg hero Garry Hooper to take second behind his team mate Daniel Simpson. Victory ensures last years league champions do not end SL22 empty handed, the trophy the club’s ninth in their history, and considering they had to beat the likes of Leeds and Eastbourne just to get to the final, promoter Danny Powis will be more than delighted with his side’s efforts. Ally Carrol too will be pleased, despite losing the final, his side have finished fourth in their first top flight season and qualified for Europe.
For the second successive season four-times winners of the competition Eastbourne have failed to qualify for the European Cup, Stowmarket snatching the final place in the SL23 renewal with a last day victory over Leeds. A last heat 5-1 from Juris Moroz (13) and Grzegorz Kowalcyk (14+1) secured a 49-41 victory for the Witches in the meeting, and vitally a bonus point by six, they finish third in the league standings, Eastbourne a point adrift in fifth, their lowest placing in 19 years!
Agony for Claygate and their promoter David Farr, the Bears—who’d been in the promotion places in division three for the previous 33 weeks—dropping to fourth on the final day despite defeating newly crowned third tier champions, Devon, 46-44. The size of victory was not good enough to see them claim the bonus, whereas Coventry took all three points in their home 59-30 win over Glenholt, a result—coupled with their earlier win at Canvey, 44-46—which saw them leapfrog Claygate in the standings. It was the first time this season that the Wildcats had been in the promotion places. Meanwhile a defeat for Newport at Torbay meant Beverley—relegated last season—could celebrate their promotion to the second tier with a meeting to spare, despite their own 24 point loss at Devon.
With one of five teams separated by a single point in division two prior to the final two rounds of racing sure to be relegated, there was bound to be a bad luck story somewhere. It’s in Linlithgow, the Lions suffering relegation to the third tier despite having one of only two unbeaten home records in the division and scoring 41 points over the course of the season, a total normally more than adequate to stay up. Dudley jumped from seventh to fourth over the course of the final meetings, which included a 42-48 success at Brockmoor for the Tigers, Derby, who began the week in the bottom three, drew at Exeter before defeating Iwade at home on the final day 47-43 with a last heat 4-2. The Bucks finished seventh, a point better off than Linlithgow.
British GP winner Grzegorz Kowalczyk (12) has been crowned World Champion following a second place finish in the final round of the GP series in Krakow, the Stowmarket and Poland rider losing out in the meeting to Steve Johnson after defeat in a deciding race-off, however his points tally was good enough to see him finish top of the standings from Johnson by two points. Aaron Macaulay, who went into the meeting as series leader, dropped to third overall after scoring just eight points in Poland. Kowalczyk went on to help Poland claim their third International League title in a row, he scored 8 in his nation’s win over England in the decider in Lublin this week, it was however Jaroslaw Szyszko (13) and Kazimierz Agafon (11+1) who clinched a vital 46-44 success for the Poles, the minor places from the pair in the final race enough to see them top the standings from the Lions by three points.
A 44-28 victory over Cradley Heath took Eastbourne to their seventh successive Academy League title, the Seagulls topping the standings by a point from Claygate. 21 year old Ben Clements of Iwade topped the averages with a mark of 11.75, Stowmarket’s Craig Lyons (9.89) was the pick of the 3.00 point GSA riders.