LAKE RUNS DRY
Brit star suffers as Leeds exit
For the first time in 15 years there will be no British representation in the European Cup final with both Leeds and Eastbourne exiting the competition at the last four stage. Record four times winners Eastbourne were on a hiding to nothing in Lublin following their home rout in the first leg of their semi-final tie, the return played out as expected, with the SL26 winners wrapping up their aggregate success as early as the end of heat nine. Lublin went on to win the leg 56-34, the tie by 40. Leeds however rightly still had expectations that their bid for a first win in the competition would go beyond the meeting in Krakow, they may have taken just a six point lead with them, but they had the knowledge that with their top three they can defend any sort of advantage, any where. What they didn’t need was to concede two 5-1’s in the opening two races, but that was always possible with Darren Evans riding his weakest riders in the top five at 1 and 2 and Krakow having a key rider at reserve in Marcin Symanski (12+2). Nathan Kay (15) and Daniel Lake (3+1) hit back with a 5-1 for the visitors in the next, but there wouldn’t be another maximum for the Jaguars until the very final race, by then it was far too late. Krakow would progress by three as Lake in particular failed to come up with the performance necessary for them to progress, after his paid win in heat two the 22 year old newly qualified GP rider failed to beat an opponent in his remaining four outings to the track, the rider who dropped just a point in the first leg suffering notable defeats to Symanski in heats seven and 11, both of which ended in a 5-1 to the hosts.
Coalville pulled off one of the results of the season by winning the first leg of their highly anticipated KO Cup quarter-final tie with Brickhill. Joy for the Kings as they won at the holders, 41-49, they limiting their hosts to just four heat wins in the contest, Russell Lewis (14) managed that alone. Riding in his 13th successive season for the club, this was one of Lewis’s better performances for them, the 27 year old only failing to secure his first maximum of SL28 when Andrey Spasskov (9+1) passed him on the final lap of heat 15. Still a comfortable win for Coalville, who’d led from a Lewis/Brian Bodersen 5-1 to the finish, they very short odds-on favourites to progress to their first semi-final in the competition since SL22.
Leeds put behind them the disappointment of their European Cup exit to extend their advantage at the top of division one to three points. A home 54-36 win over title rivals Verwood did it as second placed Stowmarket surprisingly lost at bottom of the table Dudley, the Jaguars win extending their unbeaten league run at the Hawthorne to 47 meetings, just six shy of the club record. Earlier Aaron Macaulay (16) and Nathan Kay (12+2) 5-1’s in heats 14 and 15 had secured them the points at Huntingdon, the two-times defending league champions picking up their fifth away win of the campaign in their familiar smash and grab fashion. At the other end of the table there was a second away win in four for Eastbourne, who end the week nine points clear of the relegation zone. The 43-47 victory was returned at Wimbledon, a meeting in which Frank Klein (12) scored his first maximum for the Seagulls since his early-season £600,000 switch from Verwood. Wimbledon—who are on a win-less league run of seven—remain in the bottom three, but did end the week with a surprise draw at Coalville, that meeting finishing all square after Balder Erland (10+1) spilt the home pair of Travis Foxman (14) and Mark Jolly (11+1) in the last heat decider.
With the vast majority of the near 20,000 crowd behind him Paul Hope pulled off a race-off victory over Daniel Wallar to land the European GP title at Stowmarket. At 32 the home club favourite was making his debut in the series, and came up against a veteran of 17 GP’s in Waller after both riders scored 12 points in the main meeting, Waller’s secured with four wins, while Hope had dropped a point to Owen Mitchell (10) in heat 20 when on course for outright success. However the Aussie made amends in the decider to take the title ahead of Waller, Piotr Kubiczek (11) finishing third on then night after he beat Roman Korbel and Ronnell Hawtin in a race-off for the remaining podium place.
Heat leader Kristian Aho (6) failed to win a race for his new club Runcorn at Cork but that didn’t stop them recording their second away win of the division two campaign. Charles Knapper (6+2)—demoted to second string following the Finn’s £133,000 arrival—and teenage reserve Teodor Zlobec (8+2) picked up the slack for the Rockets, who end the week back in a season high second spot, four points clear of Cork who remain fourth. Leaders Gorleston meanwhile raced to a draw at bottom side Claygate, who had lost their previous nine in the league. In division three, leaders Wentworth bounced back from dropping their first home point—that against Plymouth—by beating Coventry on the road, 41-49.